The UK’s big newspaper publishers are trying to form a joint advertising sales operation according to the FT, the one big publisher still intent on ploughing its own furrow.
Newspapers really are in the last chance saloon with print advertising set to fall 20 per cent this year following a 15 per cent drop in 2015. Online ad revenue, their great hope, is slowing as money migrates to Facebook and Google and ad blockers interrupt the market. Circulations are falling too as publishers try to claw back money through price hikes. The only paper to buck the circulation trend is News UK’s The Times but that’s mainly because of its cheap cover price.
Most TV ad selling is centralised to a degree with ITV, Channel 4 and Sky the big players. There are also digital channel specialists including Media Icon.
Steve Booth, founder of the BLM media agency which became Havas-owned Arena Media, is leading the project. He says: “We are convinced that a shared commercial future for news brands presents a significant opportunity for both us and our customers. We will continue to investigate if this can be brought to fruition.”
Such an entity looks a no-brainer although it will inevitably result in job losses across the board. But Booth and company need to move quickly and hope that the Competitions and Markets authority doesn’t launch one of its interminable investigations into the plan.
Any delay for whatever reason may well lead to the closure of one or more of the UK’s famous newspapers.