LONDON: Marketers are guilty of fixating on the reach and low price offered by digital channels and need to be more demanding of the metrics on offer, a News UK executive has argued.

Talking to Marketing Week, Catherine Newman, chief marketing officer for The Times and Sunday Times, took a similar stance to Procter & Gamble's Marc Pritchard, who has been vocal about the shortcomings of the digital industry, only last week attacking its "crappy" system for buying and selling digital media. (Read more in Warc's free-to-access report: P&G's Pritchard takes on fakes, fraudsters and fearmongers.)

Publishers like News UK have an obvious interest in reclaiming some of the advertising spend that has decamped to digital over the past decade, but Newman was realistic about the current situation.

"As brands we can very often get into a situation where they're such big players [Facebook and Google], we have to play with them and by their rules, and actually that can be dangerous. But I can understand how it happens," she said.

"I do appreciate that if you have X amount of the world's reach on your platform, that it's a compelling proposition," she conceded. "If you're going for maximum reach and viewability, great, but I'd always bring it back to its content and what it delivers."

Upmarket newsbrands are pinning their hopes on the quality of their content in a world of fake news and growing threats to brand safety such as those recently revealed by The Times which highlighted how ads for global brands were appearing on extremist websites.

"Mass reach is an obsession with people when it comes to digital and the internet," said Newman, contending that it is better to reach 10,000 who have interacted with a brand and are like-minded rather than 1m people but not know who they are.

"It's not useful to flood the market when it may be cheap but not effective," she reasoned. "People have to question what metric they're chasing and hold it up to the same standards [as other mediums]."

Data sourced from Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff