LONDON: Digital newsbrands not only provide brand-safe environments but, properly utilised, can deliver higher business returns for advertisers than general online display, new research says.

Planning for Profit, a study conducted by Benchmarketing for trade body Newsworks as part of an ongoing programme of effectiveness research, comprised a meta-analysis of the data from 684 econometric models built between 2011 and 2017, with a focus on profitability as the primary indicator of marketing success rather than sales.

The report separated digital newsbrands from general online display for the first time to give a clearer picture of the effectiveness of both print and digital newsbrands and the impact of context in the online environment.

There is a much greater opportunity for advertisers to optimise spend, it said: boosting investment in digital newsbrands would result in higher profit levels, up to as much as £300m.

And increasing print newsbrands’ share of budget to the optimum level would more than double current campaign profit return on investment

When brands were grouped into five “super-categories” covering 86% of the total UK advertising market and over 90% of advertised brands – ranging from “everyday pickups” like impulse treats and household essentials to “grown-up stuff” like travel and utilities – the study calculated that brands could be missing out on £3bn of campaign profit.

The bulk of this came in two particular super-categories. “Shiny new things” was the single largest contributor with £1.4bn potentially coming from the sort of things that keep consumers up with the latest trends, whether a new smartphone or a fancy handbag.

The other significant category was “leisure and pleasure” – items bought regularly for enjoyment inside and outside the home, including cinema trips, alcoholic drinks and lottery tickets – where brands were missing out on £1.24bn.

The report also explored four individual categories in more depth – supermarkets, finance, motors and retail.

Supermarket profits, it suggested, could be increased by 60% if spend in print newsbrands was raised by a minimum of four and up to 11 percentage points; for digital newsbrands, allocating a 2.1% share of budget is recommended as a minimum to optimise PROI.

The report added that, generally, the retail category was missing out on £1.34bn potential profit; it advised boosting print’s share of media spend to an average 21% of total campaign investment (from just under 14.4%) and digital newsbrands’ to 3.7% (from 1.7%).“In every single category, our recommended percentage spend [for digital newsbrands] is nowhere near the vast numbers going into display,” noted Vanessa Clifford, Newsworks CEO.

“I would suggest we’re massively overinvesting there. It’s definitely reached diminishing returns.”

Sourced from Newsworks; additional content by WARC staff