John McLellan: New system promises to reflect the true reach of advertising

John McLellan is director of the Scottish Newspaper Society. Picture: Contributed
John McLellan is director of the Scottish Newspaper Society. Picture: Contributed
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The apparent success of the Scottish advertising effectiveness business TVSquared illustrates the nagging doubt faced by every advertiser: how much bang for my marketing bucks am I getting for my campaign?

TVSquared measures how much traffic is driven to an advertiser’s website during a campaign and when so much TV advertising is for online services like Comparethemarket and Moneysupermarket, and online betting, traffic volume is everything. The company has worked with some 700 brands and agencies and numbers Sir Tom Hunter among backers who have invested around £6 million.

There are so many variables in the supply chain from product to marketplace that pinpointing why one campaign succeeds and another fails is not straightforward; was it the creative treatment, was it the media mix, was in the product itself? At they say, bad marketing can wreck a good product, but nothing wrecks a bad product quite like good marketing.

The foundation is understanding and targeting the audience, which relies on trustworthy market information. The biggest problem with Google and Facebook advertisers is not so much whether they work, because they clearly do, but understanding how much of the high cost represents high waste.

It has long been a complaint of publishers that media buyers have been ignoring the true reach of news publishers by associating audiences with hard copy sale and have instead been putting their clients’ eggs in the Facebook/Google basket,

But from this week a new system to reflect the true reach of news brands and magazines will go live. Years in the preparation, the new system run by the Publishers Audience Measurement Company (PAMCo) will for the first time bring together print and desk-top statistics produced by Ipsos Mori from 35,000 face-to-face interviews with the measurement of mobile phone and tablet readership from global data analysts comScore.

A further panel of 5,000 people will be used to de-duplicate overlapping readership for people reading the same publication on multiple channels, which in itself is comparable with the 5,000 household sample used by the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board to produce TV audience data.

The expectation is that the addition of mobile and tablet will demonstrate a 78 per cent increase in brand reach, and for the first time an additional age bracket of 65-75 and 75+ will replace 65+ to reflect longer life-expectancy. The new system will also allow publishers to break down their readership by section, which will be a useful tool in helping, for example, sports editors to understand why comparatively few women don’t read their pages.

The first set of results under the new system covering the whole of 2017 was made available to publishers yesterday under embargo and will be officially published on 19 April.

News Media Association chair David Dinsmore has written to Lord Kerslake asking for a meeting following his report into the Manchester Arena bombing in which he criticised the behaviour of journalists. Only one complaint had been received by the industry regulator IPSO.

- John McLellan is director of the Scottish Newspaper Society