Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Justin Taylor: Why we all need to support real media

Justin Taylor is MD, UK at Teads and NDA’s new monthly columnist.

This wasn’t quite the first column I was planning for New Digital Age. But in these extraordinary times I think it is all the more essential for it.

Let me explain: as the UK MD of Teads one of my focuses is on championing the online publishers we work with. It’s why, last year, we launched The Campaign For Real Media to drill down into just why our premium publishers should be valued and supported by the advertising community.

Never has that been more true than today. Last year we talked about their role in politics and social discourse ; in bringing trusted news and views into our homes even as “fake” news proliferated on our social feeds.

Today, we are united: they, as the fourth estate, have been reporting and analysing what our parliamentary people tell us. They are trusted beacons in a time of great anxiety and confusion.

Our internal media barometer reports that the number of visits to UK news websites and apps had risen by 173% in March – unsurprising when you think about what we are all reading at the moment.   

But at the same time ad revenue is tanking.   Because brands – quite understandably – are wary about sitting alongside such serious and worrying content.

All our responsibility

With Coronavirus being the foreseeable story for the future, dominating news agendas, I hope we all, as publishers, advertisers, agencies and partners, can look beyond this. Most brand and agency  leaders I speak with believe that COVID content is brand safe. 

Indeed an increasing proportion of content around coronavirus from our major publishers  is focusing the positive stories of how this common crisis is bringing us together and bringing out the best of humanity.

This is a shared threat that we’re all experiencing together. 

Our national newspapers are where we’re turning to understand what to do and what not to keep ourselves and our communities safe; our regionals have once again become those totems of community. Local journalism is crucial when proximity is so defining of our day to day, now more than ever. Yet regionals, particularly, are having to furlough staff in order to survive this crisis, all whilst providing vital information to their community of the situation closest to home.

Edelman’s Trust Barometer survey has shown that a majority of people globally (67 per cent) are in fact getting their news about coronavirus from major news organisations, way ahead of social media (22 per cent).

Facts and figures and the verified information provided by trusted media brands have once again gained the kudos they deserve.

Celebrating journalism

In the meantime, as well as saluting our essential front-line staff – the NHS, the delivery drivers, the supermarket workers isolated behind hastily-erected plastic –  let’s also celebrate our brave journalists, those at the coal-face of real and true media.

In today’s times trusted  information is more needed than ever. People are turning to our real media, particularly online, for that information and it’s incumbent on all of us to support it. 

If we don’t, we lose it. 

Many advertisers are – understandably – shirking away from being associated with bad news,  putting in action such things as blacklists or other measures. This is not the time to run away but to embrace and support our publishing partners.

As with every crisis past (and in the future) they are the ones putting themselves on the front line,  in places and situations neither you nor I would want to be in. They are deliberately in the eye of the storm so that we have a telegraph on the world. 

I think that’s worth celebrating, don’t you?