UK publishers urge brands to reject “blind programmatic” ad-buying

UK publishers urge brands to reject “blind programmatic” ad-buying

A consortium of the UK’s leading local news publishers are calling on ad agencies and national brands to use local news media and reject the current trend for buying programmatic ads.

The group of 24 regional publishers, including Johnston Press, Newsquest and Archant, called on advertisers to reject a “blind programmatic ad-buying” trap that is leading brands being associated with extremist content online.

Last week Johnston Press reported a £300m pre-tax loss after the company’s ad revenues dropped 18 per cent last year, with jobs and property sector ads hit hardest.

In an open letter published across the UK’s regional press, the CEOs of the UK’s longest established regional publishers highlighted how local news brands, many of which now reach at least 70 per cent of the people in their respective towns and cities through their online platforms, provide a trusted, safe and highly responsive ad environment.

The key points from the letter highlight the following:
• Local news brands publish content by thousands of trained and vastly skilled journalists and are regulated by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), the independent regulator holding publishers to account for their actions
• By advertising in these publications, advertisers can have the peace of mind that comes with a safe advertising placement as well as reaching one of the largest digital audiences in the UK
• Local news brands traditionally score well for trust. This was validated by a recent Comscore survey revealing local news site content is trusted almost three times more than social media content
• Advertising helps to fund this much needed high quality local journalism. Local news brands hope advertisers will continue to support them.

1XL, the publisher partnership representing local newsbrands to national advertisers, has also published its own online advertising charter which confirms ads will not appear next to extremist content and fake news.

According to a report from 1XL, UK regional publishers are already seeing an uplift in ad spend amid brand safety fears.

UK regional publishers are seeing some of the money previously pumped programmatically in to video channels being spent against their articles as agencies and brands begin to think more carefully about what content their ads are sitting against.
Despite the recent furore around YouTube, Google and Facebook are still expected to extend their dominance of digital advertising this year to control 60 per cent of the market.

Henry Faure Walker, CEO of Newsquest, said, “The crisis of confidence in the national digital advertising market continues, with advertisers increasingly exposed and worried about the dangers of blind programmatic ad buying which is placing household brands next to extremist content and fake news. Google and Facebook are keen to apologise but they don’t have credible answers.

“Our content is produced by highly skilled local journalists, it is regulated, it relies on human judgement and discretion as opposed to blind algorithms, and it reaches and engages millions of people in communities throughout the UK. As a result, our advertising environment is trusted, safe and highly responsive.

“What’s more, advertising in local news brands continues to fund much needed high quality journalism across the UK. We hope that ad agencies and national advertisers will better recognise the value we provide and will agree that local news brands are worth standing up for”.

Scott Gill, managing director of 1XL, added, “1XL’s unique proposition provides advertisers with the authority to reach local audiences at scale.

“We believe that publishers need to come together to put pressure on other less transparent trading platforms/SSPs to introduce a recognised and endorsed system of inventory quality. We believe 1XL’s online advertising charter is setting the standard for this.”

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