This September there have been definite signs of spring in the air! There is a perceptible scent of print optimism on the breeze. Two weeks ago I wrote about Media24 Lifestyle Division’s presentation to the media and marketing industry. Yesterday Times Media presented their roadshow, entitled The Future is Now, at the Venue at Melrose Arch. Britta Reid is feeling good!
The event was hosted by the ever genial Trevor Ormerod, GM group sales and marketing. He freely admitted that Times Media had been rather quiet in the industry, but attributed its silence to the internal work that the company had needed to to undertake in order to keep abreast of the evolving media landscape. It was now time to update the industry.
It was on 8 June this year that Tiso Blackstar Group SE acquired the balance of the Times Media share capital that it did not already own. At the same time, it also acquired a sizable interest in Kagiso Tiso Holdings Proprietary Limited. This suggests that there may well be some interesting collaborations in the future.
Times Media has evolved from newspaper publishing to being a fully fledged 360% media company with interests across print, digital, radio, television, distribution and events. It has focused on owning strategic sectors of the market such as business and automotive. In these areas it is able to offer the media and marketing industry, comprehensive multimedia packages and has trained up its consultants to work comfortably across media.
Ormerod thanked the industry for its support and for once again voting its sales team into the number one slot in the MOST Awards where they managed to secure the Overall Media Owner Award 2015. He is a past master at relationship building and is solutions driven. Ormerod has managed to imbue his team with these skills, and modestly points out that success in sales is about getting the basics of communication and service right.
The team was able to showcase some good examples of innovation in print such as the newspaper wraps which set a new benchmark for flexibility and were keenly embraced by advertisers. Ormerod re-iterated the company’s commitment to advertising innovation and its openness to new ideas. Of course, innovations such as the wraps are for the deep-pocketed, so it was heartening to hear him confirm the company’s willingness to work with smaller advertisers, and to utilise unsold inventory to stretch their budgets.
At the heart of Times Media is content, and there was a real sense of the rediscovery of the value of intelligent authorship. Phrases such as the return to “journalism not voyeurism” and “journalism not algorithms” conveyed the sense that the company is rediscovering its core purpose. The reiteration of the commitment to provide more reporting, more scoops, more analysis suggests a getting back a real sense of purpose. But the phrase “author once, publish everywhere” encapsulates how the company is shifting into the future. The analogy that print was the “haute couture” and digital “prêt-à-porter” was amusing, but also recognised the value of the central print brand and its content.
International consultants have been working with Times Media and they have developed a whole new blueprint for a restructured newsroom, with a central ‘radar’ desk supported ‘echo’ (social), SEO, analysis and business super desks. This will see the integration of editorial and sales teams. It looks to be a bold move and it will be fascinating to see its implementation.
Besides providing the industry with this company update, Times Media also showcased a new research initiative. Or perhaps, it would be more accurate to describe it as a revived research initiative. Some years back, Starch noted scores were very much part of the dialogue between print sales people and media planners. The latter were happy to accept that colour and size improved consumer noting, but were never really convinced that right hand page positioning did not immeasurably improve noting.
Earlier this year Esmé Deken, head of marketing intelligence at Times Media, contacted Mickey Galin, executive vice president of Starch Advertising Research, at GfK Mediamark Research in New York, to investigate the possibility of undertaking some local research. Starch delivers metrics for print ad readership and insight into the involvement readers have with specific ads. These metrics include noted, associated, read any and read most ratings, as well as purchase behavior or intention and actions taken.
Times Media has already surveyed some 2 461 readers and gathered information about 59 ads across three titles. This first deck of data clearly showed that print advertising penetrates consumer awareness and has leads to consumer action. It also reaffirms that colour and size matter, leading to increased noting and consumer action. This is the first step to building a bank of intelligence about the effectiveness of print advertising, and Times Media will be providing this information as a value add to campaigns of full page ads (or larger). This shows a meaningful commitment to understanding the value of print advertising, and is an offer that advertisers should assiduously accept.
To have had two positive presentations from major publishers in one month is most reassuring. I trust the print industry will not lose this momentum.