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Premium publishers have unique opportunities to attract advertisers

Charlotte Taylor, Head of Publishing and Audio at Spark Foundry, specialises in publishing and audio. She talks to New Digital Age about what’s next for the industry.

“There is so much happening in this space right now, which is great for the industry,” says Charlotte Taylor, Group Trading Director of the Publicis-owned agency Spark Foundry.

The industry had already begun a fight-back and charm offensive when Covid-19 hit, she says, though the pandemic has served to show just how vital our (largely) unbiased news sources are. “Publishers, more than other platforms, offer trusted sources and give advertisers access to their unique audiences.

“Our brands have been able to speak to such a vast majority of people over this time, whether they want news or escapism. And it’s no longer about ‘print’ – publishing today is a plethora of things, from words to podcasts to video, but it’s all in a premium, quality and trusted environment for our advertisers. There is plenty to feel excited about.”

She believes that this new-found confidence predates the coronavirus but says that it has accelerated the positive trends that the industry is now capitalising on and diverging revenue streams that they will rely on.

Taylor talks about multiple strategies from those behind paywalls , leveraging reader loyalty to those who offer added extras under the publisher branding, “News brand subscription models have changed over the past year,” she says. “People are willing to pay for quality content, and that is delivering. But equally some publishers are delivering brilliant numbers. There are so many revenue streams now and they don’t all rely on advertising. With all these fingers in different pies these are not just publishers in the traditional sense any more.”

She cites The Sun as a brand that has been able to leverage selling holidays and more as an example. Taylor also believes that data is helping publishers connect with advertisers and agencies in more relevant ways, though she admits that there is no clear solution to replacing the third-party tracking cookie option that much of the digital ad ecosystem is today predicated on.

“We [the industry] just don’t have a solution for this yet. There is many a taskforce being set up here to explore ‘what next’ but I actually think that this is possibly a time for publishers to shine even more.

“They have a wealth of first-party data, they already provide premium environments. Many newsbrnads will know exactly who their audience or audiences are, and can give advertisers the opportunity to target effectively across all their various verticals.”

Taylor also calls initiatives such as the Ozone Project as important collaborations that will allow advertisers to scale activity across premium publishers.

Her remit at Spark Foundry crosses both publishing and audio, and she believes the two are becoming much more aligned, particularly with the burgeoning popularity of podcasts and radio with the ‘print’ kings. The Guardian, for example, can count some 600,000 listeners for some of its podcasts, whilst News UK is building and buying a credible live radio proposition.

“What we need to do as an agency is ensure that we’re going where audiences are going. There is a huge opportunity in this online space.”

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