NEW YORK: Listicles can only take a publisher so far, and ultimately quality will win out over quantity, especially in the print medium, according to a leading industry figure.
"The relative value of print to certain clients in a digitally discursive age – it has to be quality print – is increasing," stated Robert Thomson, global chief executive of News Corp, publisher of the Wall Street Journal and the Times, in remarks reported by The Australian.
He told an audience at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference there were signs that advertisers were having second thoughts about the effectiveness of digital advertising and pointed to a trend for tech advertisers to invest in print ads with the Wall Street Journal.
"The preconception would be tech is a digital play," he said. "Well, tech people know more about digital than anyone and are advertising in print."
Thomson also took the opportunity to have a swipe at the current preponderance of listicles. "There is so much rubbish that is passed off as journalism," he said. "There's a numerical limit to numerical headlines like '17 Ways to Keep Your Cat Happy'."
He argued that advertisers would increasingly ask themselves if they wanted to be seen next to these types of stories and described Buzzfeed, the market leader in this field, as "a really strange place".
This type of "so-called journalism" was in fact, he suggested, simply a phase. "When you look at how trends evolve, people freeze a frame at a time of exponential evolution and you just get things wrong," he said.
Thomson expected that "over a period, instead of this quantification of content, you will see a greater emphasis on quality".
"We're going to invest in digital nous and we're going to trust audiences and advertisers will want intensity and affinity with quality and not guilt by association," he said.
A similar point was made in a Carat blog by Ella Dolphin, group publishing director at Hearst Magazines UK, who noted that "click-bait or the one-hit-wonder stuff … is starting to wear thin".
Her pitch was for more branded content in the safety of a magazine environment rather than risking "the Wild West" of beauty bloggers and vloggers.
Data sourced from The Australian, Huffington Post; additional content by Warc staff