If Buzzfeed can get 25million views on an article about a picture of a dress then why should advertisers be bothered about investigative journalism?
Listicle vs long form
Once upon a time it was a great headline on the front page that drove sales and so advertising impressions. Now that advertisers can get an audience from the latest internet meme, why should an advertiser worry where the eyeballs they're buying are coming from?
Should they care whether their ad's viewers are looking at a cheap piece of online clickbait or an in depth, long term (and expensive) journalistic investigation into political corruption?
As a lover of quality journalism for its own sake I would argue that advertisers should care anyway - that whatever the ROI they should be bothered about the quality of content that they support. However, I also believe that there are strong commercial arguments why advertisers should value the sort of in-depth, investigative journalism that has traditionally defined the very best of British newspapers.
The reason for this belief is that eyeballs are not all equal. Whilst a list of the top ten kittens on the Internet may draw some of the same users as carefully researched revelations about a leading public figure I don't think the value of those interactions are the same.
A different view
Firstly, a reader's relationship with a newspaper is different to the one they have with a content-led website. A listicle is for laughs but a newspaper is for life. We know from our research that people have a much deeper and more trusting relationship with their preferred newspaper brand and that relationship reflects on the advertisers that live within it. People trust, remember and act upon advertising in their newspaper of choice (whether they're reading it in print, online or on tablet) more than they do elsewhere.
Secondly, newspapers increasingly have a much better understanding of their readers. As subscription models (whether paid, free or hybrid) begin to dominate the newspaper market, these organisations are gaining a completely new depth of relationship with their readers, a better understanding of what they want, what they buy and what they do. This understanding is much harder to gain with non-subscription sites and it reflects directly on the effectiveness of advertising targeting.
Clearly, great investigative journalism can and does exist outside of traditional newspapers and this should equally be supported and applauded. However, it is within the iconic news brands that great journalism is best known, best respected and best funded. Moreover, it is within those newspapers that readers largely expect to find this sort of content and so where the reflected advertising value is most concentrated.
Long live great journalism
The fact that great journalism leads to great advertising impact is a win-win for all involved. Readers get access to the stories that keep politicians honest, sports stars clean and society a better place to live whilst advertisers reach consumers that they understand better and who trust their brands more.
To hear ITV International Affairs Editor Rageh Omar, political blogger Guido Fawkes, Sunday Times journalist David Walsh and Channel 4 news presenter Cathy Newman discussing the future of investigative journalism come to The Untold Truth: Investigative Journalism at Advertising Week Europe 2015.
10.00am, Tuesday 24th March, AWEurope Underground.