The Mediatel ‘Future of Newspapers’ conference took place on Monday 29 September. The panel featured some highly respected individuals, including our own Jane Wolfson, numerous influential newsbrand management figures, and well-known commentator Ray Snoddy.
Snoddy, a passionate media observer, began the event with something of an attack on the Evening Standard’s 'London Live' launch performance. This off-topic and rather negative opener did not dispel the sense of optimism among the audience. From the questions pitched, it seemed clear they recognised how well overall audience performance is looking at the moment for all Newsbrands.
The panellists discussed the PATS Publisher Advertising Transaction System not being a trading system. Two or three companies have already tried in this space but failed.
Jane argued that the venture would be a waste of time if it wasn't universally backed. Lack of collaboration among our national newspaper groups was highlighted as the main issue. The question was raised as to whether our newspapers would lose something commercially if they collaborated any more closely than they already do.
The debate scrutinised the differing distribution models being tried out across newsbrands’ digital inventory. The Daily Mirror offer inventory totally free via their App and have 70k people a day reading – compelling figures for advertisers. The full 'pay wall' from News UK takes a while to establish and The Sun is in the thick of it.
After one year using the model, The Times is doing well with 73k daily readers. Finally, the ‘metered’ approach being tested by the Telegraph was discussed, where activity is charged after visitors read a certain number of articles (39k daily readers).
The panel, where the Telegraph/News UK and Mirror were all represented, debated which route to market was best. However, no conclusion was reached, as only time will tell and, so far, success has varied by audience.
Lastly, the controversial topic of the NRS being served notice by the NPA was touched on with Simon Redican, chairman of the NRS being given an opportunity to comment. Sadly, this debate is so fresh that it is littered with legal issues and the discussion didn't have much breadth. One point of agreement was that the newspapers want more from a multi-platform survey and they want it quickly, which is quite a challenge for any research provider. Jane Wolfson commented that the NRS is still a good piece of research however within a digital context it would have to keep up.