Advertising grandee Sir Martin Sorrell has urged his industry to show faith in newspapers as more and more money drifts towards online giants.
Sorrell, the founder and chief executive of WPP, said that at a time when Google, Facebook and Twitter stand accused of “giving a platform to hatred and fake news” there ought to be an increased “public appetite for more traditional, reliable news providers”.
In an article posted on LinkedIn, Sorrell wrote: “The long-term decline in the sales of printed newspapers is now matched by falling commercial revenues as advertisers look to digital channels for greater reach, precise targeting of individual consumers and the ability to trigger an immediate purchase.
“Most publishers’ own digital dreams have yet to be realised, hopes of building a large-scale online advertising business fading as Google and Facebook gobble up the large majority of incremental digital ad spend….
“And yet, opportunities remain. Perceived and real flaws in the digital media ecosystem are a potential source of competitive advantage to newspapers – in both their print and digital forms.”
In an article originally written for the Daily Telegraph, Sorrell pointed to research by Newsworks that advertising spend on the national press is “below the effective weight” and should return to 2013 levels, an increase of 25 per cent.
He added: “Advertisers benefit from healthy news brands… just as society as a whole benefits from them. They are more than a way of reaching customers; media scrutiny of business, however uncomfortable that may be for those in the lens, makes for a more efficient and transparent corporate world.”