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Newsworks and the PPA are introducing a new measurement solution – does the buy side care?

Newsworks and the PPA are introducing a new measurement solution – does the buy side care?

Big changes are on the horizon for the way UK publishers’ audiences are measured, but are advertisers and their agencies aware of what is being discussed by two of the industry’s major publishing trade bodies?

Newsworks and the Professional Publishers Association (PPA) are developing a new “enhanced measurement solution” that could have a big impact on the way publishing is measured.

However, according to the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) research director Belinda Beeftink, it has thus far seldom been discussed by the buy-side.

“I doubt many planners or buyers at agencies are aware of it at all. Nor has there been much discussion between agencies and Newsworks and PPA on this approach,” she told The Media Leader.

The development of the new solution was announced last month with the launch of requests for information (RFIs) from suppliers for input.

The solution, the PPA and Newsworks said, will for the first time include both advertising measurement and audience measurement across print and online for newsbrands and magazine publishers.

“Our intention to build a future-focused measurement system is in direct response to feedback we received from our advertising and agency partners, as well as our respective stakeholders,” Newsworks CEO Jo Allan said. “In this everchanging media landscape, the ad market requires more sophisticated and agile data, not just in terms of audience reach but also the data that measures the positive impact of advertising in trusted journalism and premium content.”

There currently exist a number of joint-industry currencies (JICs) that help to accurately measure publishing: PAMCo, ABC, JICREG, and UKOM/Iris.

JIC data, while transparent and accurate, has not necessarily reflected positively on many publishers for a number of years, as print circulations continue their decline and online readership remains less lucrative.

In 2020, ABC announced it would no longer force newspaper publishers to make their print figures publicly available and that it would no longer issue monthly newsbrand reports. PAMCo, which gives multi-platform readership and “true brand reach” instead became the primary measurement currency.

The Media Leader asked both Newsworks and the PPA whether the new measurement solution could serve as a substitute to existing JIC data from the likes of PAMCo and ABC. In a joint response, spokespeople for both bodies did not directly answer the question but instead offered they are “looking to enhance the current measurement solution for published media.”

“Newsworks and the PPA will work closely with the IPA to ensure that any future solution meets their use-cases,” the spokespeople told The Media Leader. “This project is about enhancing the breadth of data that the published media industry provides to our advertising partners.”

The two bodies explained that now is the right time to develop a new measurement solution in part because “the rise of fake news, misinformation, and questionable content is only going to spread further with technologies like AI,” and thus premium publishers want to be able to offer a strong alternative for advertisers from standard digital programmatic buys.

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Beeftink told The Media Leader that agencies do not distrust the current publishing metrics provided via existing JICs because the data is co-owned by the buy- and sell-side.

Rather, agencies are “firmly behind” the JIC approach and are supportive of a system “whereby the data source is governed by stakeholders from across the advertising spectrum and is delivered to gold standard.”

“It’s the digital data outside of the JIC system where [a lack of trust] is more of a problem,” she said.

Beeftink added, “I think the bigger issue here is that the publishers have the expectation that the JIC data is there principally to sell their medium. It is not. The JICs were always devised as a means by which each sector of the industry could trade using trusted, transparent, and accountable metrics which had been agreed by both the buy- and the sell-side. They were never devised as the primary means to sell one medium or channel against another. Of course, the JICs provide the building blocks of any sales or buying proposition, but it is just that, a building block, and not the only contribution to a well-crafted sales pitch or media plan.

“The publishers have long hoped that the JIC data can somehow help stop the decline in print revenues and bolster the increase in digital revenue. This was never going to happen using JIC data alone. Selling publisher propositions needs to be more nuanced than this.”

She continued that if current JIC data is ever replaced with something else which does not have equivalent governance of the JIC approach, it would impact on client confidence levels and “hasten the demise of an already declining market.”

While Beeftink expressed pleasure that the IPA and IPA agencies are involved in evaluating the responses for the RFI, she told The Media Leader “it is clear that the decision to move forward on the RFI is one that will be taken by the publishers and not by the buy side,” and that it is “unclear what the governance for this will be moving forward and how the IPA and IPA agencies might be involved.”

Vic Davies, Director of Strategy and Marketing Analytics Lab, Royal Docklands Business School University of East London, on 09 Nov 2023
“This should be seen as a good move by 'print' to provide research that is more relevant . But the question is relevant to what ? This article uses words like 'trading' ,which implies media is a commodity, which has no intrinsic value of its own. It does not matter where you get the 'eyeballs' from as long as you can get then from somewhere, and at the lowest cost is often how media measurement at an JIC industry level is positioned. But surely this is the communications industry? Any new research should therefore reflect, what is already known via a variety of disparate sources, that how people relate to and use 'legacy/old' re predigital media is different. The nature of communication differs. There is nothing new in this, with decades of research to prove it. The fault has been the failure to integrate this into how media is valued, and therefore bought and sold. Let's hope this chance to change this is not passed up.”

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