Why real news is crucial to advertising’s future

Marketing News

This week, Teads has launched its Campaign for Real Media, celebrating the power of premium media to unite and inspire. Each week we’re looking at a different area of publisher content – how magazines represent culture, how new-age publications represent people and how local press stands up for community. We start, though, with the national press and how real news is the voice of the nation.

There has never been a more important time for quality publisher content that people can trust. A world of misinformation that, through AI, reinforces instead of challenging your point of view leads to very myopic thinking. It sends us down a single-track path that ends in tribalistic ‘me versus you’ behaviour, rather than allowing us to understand both sides of the argument, make up our own minds and evolve our personal perspectives.

So, where do people go for real news? When I talk to my teenage children, they say they don’t turn to social platforms but visit the BBC or Vice. While they might discover a story from their friends, it’s quality journalists paid to reveal the truth that they then turn to for the facts.

And so it’s crucial that publishers are able to properly fund those journalists and the teams that support them. Not just their salaries either but the travel to some of the most dangerous places on the planet to report on vital stories, and all the measures that are required to keep them safe when they get there. All of these things are expensive, and rightly so.

In recent times, publishers have struggled to maintain these levels of investment, but today’s revenue models are starting to thrive. A powerful combination of subscription and advertising are proving key to the success of these publishers. It is a challenging balance as people need to see value in return for their hard-earned money, and advertising needs to be interesting and impactful while also non-intrusive.

We at Teads have worked for years with publishers to offer an ever-evolving, exciting and effective suite of solutions for advertisers. With Teads, advertisers can have huge reach in a brand-safe, quality environment that delivers excellent business results – with the comfort that their pounds are also sustaining the quality journalism we all desperately need, now more than ever.

I spoke to Phil Smith, director general at ISBA, to hear his his thoughts on the idea of ‘real media’ – what it means to him, what it means for brands and what it holds for the future of our industry.

Viewpoint

Phil Smith, director general, ISBA

Real news is the enemy of fake news. We are now all aware of the unconscious biases that colour opinions and skew reasoning. Just as radio and TV have been exploited for propaganda, soundbites and spin, digital technology is being manipulated to exploit our vulnerabilities; truth and tolerance are both casualties.

Real news at its best stretches thinking, broadens horizons and gives new perspectives. Real news nourishes with a rich, varied and consistently high-quality diet of reporting, analysis and well-formed opinion.

In practice, what this means for publishers is a commitment to accurate reporting, investigative journalism and editorial courage. It means more journalists who have achieved craft mastery through many hours of ‘deliberate practice’; a clear editorial stance and accountability for what is published, with fact checking, corrections and, where required, apologies; a purpose closer to the BBC’s Reithian doctrine of “inform, educate and entertain” than to the maximisation of audience reach and dwell time.

It is not a race to the bottom to appeal to the largest audience at lowest cost. It is becoming increasingly clear that this demands a business model which encourages deep engagement with a well-defined audience whose trust is valued.

Many of the bastions of real news have strong heritages and proud, quality brands. What they largely have in common is that they are not free. That a generation has now emerged expecting free news creates a significant problem for potential newcomers. For readers keen to expand their minds, technology has meant there is more quality journalism readily accessible than ever before.

What real news means for advertisers is a dependable context, where hard news is not treated with sensationalism. It means an advertising environment that is curated, where quantity and quality are both controlled; and where advertising and editorial are clearly delineated, not peppered with clickbait and scam ads masquerading as editorial. It is also an environment where leading advertisers can reasonably expect to be seen in the company of ads from other reputable brands.

Ultimately, a healthy future for real news is critical for sustainable news media and public trust – in advertising, in media and in institutions at large. From the research ISBA has done with Credos and the Advertising Association, we know this is the defining issue for the advertising industry’s future.

The volume of advertising, repetition, retargeting, lack of relevance and obtrusiveness are all contributing to all-time lows for favourability and trust. Reversing these trends requires adaptation from both the buy and sell sides. Work has begun to take on this challenge. The quality environments represented by real news are an essential foundation on which it can succeed.

Marc Zander is SVP of global client partnerships at Teads

To hear more from our industry contributors as to what Real Media means to them and give your opinion, go to campaignforrealmedia.com/realnews

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