Research shows how news media can improve advertising effectiveness and boost profit

The director of insight at Newsworks UK says that media planners seem to believe that “nobody does anything normal anymore”, yet research shows that consumers continue to turn to news brands as a vital source of information and perspective.

Denise Turner has been in New Zealand presenting neuroscience research from the UK, in collaboration with News Works NZ, which we’ll get onto shortly.

Whilst Denise was here we caught up with her to learn about another piece of UK research which has analysed how much profit brands are losing out on due to underspending with news brands.

Newsworks UK is committed to research on the effectiveness of news brands, and has conducted a detailed piece of profit analysis, which involved a meta-analysis of 684 econometric models, from 2011 to 2017. Turner says the study proves that “if you don’t have news brands as part of your media mix then you’re missing a trick, because they add something unique.”

With this comprehensive study, Newsworks have developed a useful ‘Planning for Profit’ tool, which “focuses on the total campaign profit delivered by investing in news brands”. The categories identified by the study cover almost 90 percent of the UK market, meaning it’s applicable to the vast majority of advertised brands. 

The study, which was awarded the ‘Best Use of Data Sets’ at this year’s Mediatel Research Awards, found that in total, brands are missing out on £3 billion of campaign profit, due to underspending in news brands. 

The biggest examples of lost profit were found in the categories of ‘Leisure and pleasure’ (e.g. cinema tickets and cocktails) and ‘Shiny new things’ (eg. technology and fashion items). These categories were missing out on £1.24 billion and £1.4 billion profit respectively. 

Turner says the study was designed to fill current knowledge gaps, and “strike the balance between having something that’s really robust, but not from too far back when the world was a different place”. 

She noted UK brand Tesco is a “good example of what happens when a company retreats too far from news brands, after a change in media strategy.” 


However, they have recently been reviewing how their media investment works. They presented at a conference last week, and they talked about the importance of context and being in the right place.” According to the Planning for Profit tool, Tesco should be placing around 18 percent of their advertising spend with news brands.

“That’s not insubstantial, but it’s not saying they need to be everywhere – it’s giving the right level of investment,” Turner explained.

“We’re not saying put all your money in news brands – no channel is an island – but media campaigns these days are all about the combination of channels that you use.”

Turner said that news brands have not seen any significant difference in engagement since paywalls have been introduced to news, but research shows that consumers engage more effectively with advertising that is placed next to premium content.

“Premium quality content is more expensive, but is it worth paying the price for that content? What we’ve found shows that ads just on the run of the internet – only half of them are actually seen. So that feels like all this talk about viewability – the price that we have to pay for ads in premium content is delivering much better brand response. A, it’s being seen, and B, it’s translating through people’s response to the advertising.”

As previously reported, Newsworks UK and News Works NZ researchers are leading the way to answer these questions by utilising neuroscience technology, in order to better understand media effectiveness on a personal level. The studies analyse consumers’ brain response and memory, as well as techniques such as eye tracking.

Marketing and research consultant Jacqueline Farman – who worked with News Works NZ to develop the study – told StopPress that the study is “as close as we can get to a pure understanding of how communication is working in the brain.”

The results showed that participants were far more likely to store advertisements in their long-term memory if they saw them both in newspapers and on television, “the highly complementary nature of the two mediums captured a strong priming effect”.

The study found that when a television ad was viewed before a newspaper ad, the ability of the ad to kickstart long-term memory encoding increased by 26 per cent. If the campaign’s creative was integrated across both channels, the likelihood of it being stored in long-term memory increased by 37 percent.

Turner says it’s not an “either or” when it comes to news brands, or other contexts such as social media. “But if you’re trying to exchange one for the other, it doesn’t work because they do different things.”

She says it’s about “defining suitable contexts so that brands can reap the rewards of conveying their messages to a highly attentive, intensely engaged audience in a compelling, emotionally powerful context.

News Works NZ CEO Brian Hill says that these studies prove the ability of news brands to create effective environments for advertising, and gather active, highly engaged audiences.

“When it really matters, when you need to do something detailed or complex when you want something to really stick in memory, then newspapers should be part of the media mix,” Hill explained.

Hill concludes that it’s important to come back to the basics of advertising planning.

“We seem to think that if we advertise to a person watching TV, reading a Newspaper or anywhere on the internet, that they will engage with the ad in a similar way, but in fact the context is critical in determining advertising effectiveness.”

To find out more about the studies covered in this article visit;
News Works NZ Neuroscience study
News Works UK Planning for Profit study

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