The boss of newspaper publisher Trinity Mirror has urged advertisers to be more “discerning” in the wake of controversies around fake news and brand safety.
Chief executive Simon Fox also said that while his company has struggled so far in 2017, he does sense a “change of mood”, meaning advertisers could start to divert money away from digital giants like Facebook and Google to traditional publishers.
Fox was speaking after WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell last week warned Google and Facebook they face losing advertisers’ faith unless they acknowledge they are “media companies and not technology companies”, and therefore are responsible for content they disperse.
The web giants have come under pressure this year over the distribution of fake news and adverts being placed next to extremist content.
Fox believes these scandals could encourage advertisers to look more towards traditional news brands.
“Obviously that is the hope,” he told City A.M. “We think that digital advertisers do need to be more discerning about where they allow their adverts to be placed.
“The whole programmatic ad stack causes a loss of control, or can cause a loss of control. And therefore, absolutely, the trusted news sites should benefit as advertisers get increasingly concerned about where their adverts are appearing.”
He added: “It’s still early days, but I do sense a change of mood. I do sense that advertisers are becoming more concerned about, not just fake news but the whole brand safety, fraud [issues] – in terms of their ads being viewed by real human beings. And so, yeah, that is a mood change that I sense swinging in our direction.”
Despite his optimism, Trinity, which publishes the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, Sunday People and a number of regional newspapers, today reported a revenue fall of 16 per cent in the first four months of the year. As part of this, print advertising revenues fell by 19 per cent.
Last year, Trinity Mirror was instrumental in bringing together a group of national newspaper publishers to explore pooling together their advertising resources. However, after the Daily Mail publisher pulled out, Trinity “reluctantly” exited the consortium earlier this year. Fox said Trinity had left the “door open” for a return to the group.