The sale of the Financial Times

Zeitung Financial Times / newspaper financial times Zeitung Financial Times / newspaper financial times

On 23 July it was announced that Pearson had sold the Financial Times to one of Japan’s biggest media groups Nikkei for £844m. Since this announcement Pearson has also sold its 50% stake in the Economist Group, publisher of the Economist, to existing shareholders for £469m in cash.

The famous pink paper has an editorial team of 580 journalists across more than 50 locations worldwide. The first issue was published in 1888 at only 4 pages, and was bought by Pearson in 1957.

The Financial Times had itself reported that it was in advanced negotiations with German media house Axel Springer, following a year of talks. In comparison, the deal with Nikkei was struck in only 5 weeks. Nikkei’s existing portfolio includes Japan’s biggest selling newspaper The Nikkei, which has 3.12m subscribers.

Pearson had owned the FT for 58 years but over recent years has been focussing on becoming the world’s largest education company, and had already sold many of its media assets such as The French media group Les Echos.

The £844m price tag represents around 43 times the operating income of the Financial Times. The sale includes the paper, and other titles such as The Banker and Investors Chronicle. It does not include the headquarters in Southwark, which the FT will remain in for another year.

The sale of the FT and the Economist comes at a time of significant upheaval in the media world, with traditional newspapers seeing print circulations steadily decline and increased investment in digital offerings. Paid circulation of the FT currently stands at 737,000, with less than 75,000 being in the UK. Digital users make up nearly 75% of subscribers, compared to 24% in 2010.

Under the ownership of Pearson the FT infamously did not consult with their owners about its editorial content, and as a result the content of the paper remained entirely editorially independent. Since the sale questions have been raised about the FT protecting its editorial independence, and in a statement from three former editors it was noted ‘there is nothing at present in the governance of the publication to guarantee the continued independence of the editor’.

Tsuneo Kita, chairman and CEO of Nikkei, said: ‘I am extremely proud of teaming up with the Financial Times, one of the most prestigious news organizations in the world. Our motto of providing high – quality reporting on economic and other news, while maintaining fairness and impartiality, is very close to that of the FT. We share the same journalistic values. Together, we will strive to contribute to the development of the global economy.’

Google’s Q2 results: what do they mean?


Google recently announced $17.7 billion revenue in the first quarter of this year, $15.5 billion of which came from advertising revenue.

Ruth Porat, who took over the company’s CFO position, said: “Our strong Q2 results reflect continued growth across the breadth of our products, most notably core search, where mobile stood out, as well as YouTube and programmatic advertising…We are focused every day on developing big new opportunities across a wide range of businesses. We will do so with great care regarding resource allocation.”

Interestingly, Google’s decision to adjust its search algorithm in order to catalyse mobile development has apparently paid off, as rising user experience rates drove up the value and price of mobile ads. Google’s owned and operated apps also saw huge growth, Google Hangouts and Google Chrome each crossed 1 billion downloads in recent weeks, the company’s 11th and 12th products to reach that milestone.

Chief Business Officer Omid Kordestani said securing more high-end ad budgets for YouTube would be a priority moving forward as “brand dollars follow the migration from TV to digital.” Pre-roll

YouTube adverts have helped increase the number of advertisers on YouTube by 40%. The average spend on YouTube is up by an enormous 60%.

What do Google’s Q2 results mean for advertisers?

Continue to invest in mobile advertising as the channel continues to grow, particularly YouTube. Make the most out of your collateral by posting and promoting your videos across multiple channels as well as YouTube including Facebook and Instagram.

Look to other channels too. Bing has grown by nearly 20% in the UK over the past 12 months and one in 5 US-based desktop searches were made using Bing, according to comScore’s March data. Bing also offers great value for money, last year the average CPC was $0.15 cheaper than Google’s CPC in 7 out of 8 cases. Bing is also a good channel to use when targeting users in an older target market, Bing users are traditionally aged between 55-64 years old.



National Newspapers Update

Newspaper Update

Declining circulations
2014 saw the continued decline of print newspaper circulations, a decrease of 9% overall. Due to the rise in mobile device ownership and shift to consuming news online, circulations are predicted to drop by more than a third over the next five years.

Trends in UK Newspaper Circulation

In terms of dailies, it is the popular titles that have seen the most dramatic declines, averaging a 25% decrease since 2011 compared to 12.7% for the qualities. This is likely due in part to the full or partial online paywalls implemented by titles such as Times/Sunday Times and Financial Times.

Furthermore, print readership continues to shift to an increasingly mature demographic with over half of over-65s regularly reading print newspapers compared to an average of 29%.

Digital innovation
On a more positive note, digital growth over the past year has been strong with five of the largest newsbrands reporting a combined 25% increase in browsers in 2014. In contrast to print, users tend to be younger with nearly 75% of those aged 25-34 having accessed news online within the last three months compared to an average of around 60%.

Despite this, print still accounts for the bulk of revenues as newsbrands continue their mission to grow digital profits. Developing exclusive content such as videos and podcasts is central to brands’ strategies, be it as an incentive to subscribe for those using paywalls or an additional revenue stream for free content providers.

What this means for advertisers
New products will ultimately offer innovative ways of targeting and engaging niche audiences which is good news for advertisers.

Also important to consider are the changes in how online news is consumed, with smartphones now the device most commonly used to read news online.

Device Breakdown

A reduced share of browsers does not mean that targeting desktop or laptop users should be avoided, but creative format and potentially messaging should be adapted for each device. So while almost three-quarters of print newspaper readers consume the paper at home with time to browse, those reading on smartphones are far more likely to be on the move, making more direct messaging appropriate.

Digital Display Advertising – Beyond CTR

Before the digital boom, many brands were happy to advertise on TV, in newspapers and billboards without having any solid evidence on the exact source generating a sale. However, since the global financial crisis, the emphasis and pressure has grown on marketing professionals to quantify the value of any ad spend. With the infinite list of statistics digital media provides, it has become somewhat an easy option for marketers to justify.

There is one fundamental flaw that most advertisers are guilty of with this approach. This is focusing specifically on display advertisings “last event” role (i.e. CTR, last click or last view before purchase or action), rather than its overall business value. This approach doesn’t take into consideration the customer journey online or the brand awareness benefits that reaching an audience online can produce.

This holds more truth when advertising a product that requires a lot of research, such as a property. Focusing on last event results encourages advertisers to invest too much of their budgets in optimising towards reaching consumers who are near the end of the buying cycle. Of course this is a great time to reach someone, however why not expand this and efficiently use digital display for the same purposes that print, TV, outdoor and radio are used, and target consumers who are at the start or early on in the buying cycle to raise awareness, which will ultimately deliver a better ROI?

It may be stating the obvious but how can an ad influence a consumer to purchase if it is not seen? The answer is of course it cannot.  However, the majority of digital advertisers optimising towards the last event will not focus on, or report on, achieving viewability.

On average, around 40% of display network ad impressions in a campaign would be classified as un-viewable, for example if it is below the fold. The IAB defines an ad as visible if it has at least 50% of it in view for at least 1 second.

A case study undertaken by Waitrose, who teamed up with Infectious Media, a programmatic advertising specialist, goes someway into showing a better way to measure the real value of display ads. They do this by focusing heavily on viewability, combined with other targeting data points.

The test measured the behavioral differences, such as website behavior and purchasing, between people who were shown at least one viewable ad and those shown at least one non-viewable ad in the same campaign.

Initially, there was no identifiable difference in results between users who had a viewable or non-viewable ad served. However, after extensive optimising and analysis, which can only be done programmatically, it became apparent that the largest impact of sales was related to the number of viewable ads a user was served.

More specifically, sales significantly increased when a user was served at least 5 ads within a 1 month period. There was a plateau when users were served over 10 ads in a month, however a clear optimum number had been identified.

On this basis, not only contextual, environment and behavioral targeting should be considered, but equally, if not more important is frequency. Campaigns that reach the correct audience segments but at low frequency levels are almost as wasteful as displaying non-viewable ads.

Optimising campaigns towards CTR may reduce the frequency an ad is served because if a user hadn’t clicked after being served the ad a number of times, they may be deemed irrelevant.

There are still many discoveries to be made into delivering the optimum digital campaign, however moving further away than purely measuring the last event is a good first step.

What impact out of home advertising has on consumers

Outdoor Media

The UK out of home (OOH) industry has seen annual revenues surpassing the £1bn revenue barrier for the first time, as more money is being spent on OOH across its range of environments and formats than ever before. But what impact does this medium have on consumers?

The visual sense is our strongest sense by far, using more bandwidth than all the other senses put together, and outdoor harnesses that bandwidth. According to media planning guru Les Binet of adamandeveDDB (“The Long and the Short of it”), the branding effects of outdoor are on a par with the branding effects of television.

In the Cannes Effectiveness Lions Awards 2014, out of home had an impressive showing, featuring in 44% of campaign entries and 92% of shortlisted entries. The commentary suggested, “Outdoor seems to be increasingly a strategic choice for lower budget campaigns and may be a way to quickly achieve mass coverage in markets where television audiences have become fragmented.”

Today’s OOH is a dynamic mix of billboards, digital displays, transit, street furniture, cinema, and place-based media which delivers a quality and ever growing national audience of massive scale. This audience is primarily young, urban, mobile, affluent and connected.

Studies show that people are 33% more alert out of home than when indoors, therefore, out of home advertising can provide an effective means to disrupt and engage people’s attention within this environment, building a strong brand presence during the 70% of the day they spend away from home.

Intercept interviews in the UK’s streets also show that seven out of 10 people you reach out of home are in active purchase mode – they are actually out there with the purpose of buying something, so you are catching them in exactly the right mind-set. Advertisers can then consider location, proximity and time in order to reach people when they are in close or direct proximity to point of sale with a high impact message.

Unlike other media, OOH cannot be filtered, fast-forwarded or switched-off, providing a continuous presence 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and reaching audiences that other media may find hard to tap into. As a stand-alone format it doesn’t compete with a plethora of other advertisements.

In an age of ever-increasing media fragmentation, OOH can be very effective medium which can achieve sustained levels of awareness, reaching a broad demographic no matter how they consume their media. When OOH is combined with other advertising in an integrated media plan, it is proven to extend reach, amplify a campaign, and drive consumer engagement.

How to recover from bad PR with digital marketing

Digital Marketing

In a mobile society filled with social media and instant communication, a good reputation can be hard to maintain. Every business makes mistakes, whether it’s an employee, an unhappy customer or just a bad decision – it’s unavoidable. In the digital age, those mistakes can gain traction online and have long lasting consequences.

If you’re suffering from some bad online PR, there are five digital marketing activities that can be done to counteract bad press:

  1. Don’t click on a bad link! We know how tempting it is to read anything written about your company online, but if it’s bad – resist temptation and don’t click on it! The more you and others click on this link, the more relevant it becomes to search engines. Google and other search engines’ algorithms rank search results which are popular, so stop clicking and start producing new stories to provide search engine bots with newer and more relevant content.
  2. Produce digital PR. Counteract your bad PR with some good PR! Create your own new and relevant stories – they can be about anything from a new recruit, deal or product offering. Just get your stories out there and provide search engines with more up-to-date content.
  3. Get social. If you don’t already have social media profiles, set these up. If you have them and don’t use them frequently, start using them! Being active on social media will give your brand a stronger online presence, and if you do it well, your social media profiles will start to appear on the first page of search engine results when a user searches for your brand name. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are obvious choices, but also make sure you have Google Plus – since it is a Google property, this will always rank highly on Google.
  4. Acquire domains. Each domain acts as another potential result in the organic rankings. Start acquiring new domains with unique content associated with your brand. Get these domains optimised with brand keywords, quality links, and quality content. Once search engines index the new websites, they’ll start to rank them within the search results. This will enable to push down bad PR stories online as the new domains will start to feature at the top and your website can and should link to these new domains.
  5. Start blogging. A great way to increase your ranking and overcome bad online PR is to start blogging. Search engines love websites which frequently produce new content and a blog is the best way to achieve this. By creating a blog on a new domain, which can easily be linked to from your main website you are able to ensure that the bad PR links are being pushed down the pages.

Although it can take months to get a negative story off the first page, it is possible! The key is to keep creating new content which will feed search engines and users timely information and reduce the relevancy of the bad article, but it will also increase your online equity and brand presence!

Google Analytics Demographics & Interests Reports

Digital Marketing

Google Analytics (GA) has always been a great tool to understand the consumer journey and behaviour on websites. Successful marketers use statistics from GA and similar tracking systems to optimise their marketing strategies and plan for the future campaigns.

Until recently however, GA data did not include the most essential information used in marketing planning exercises; users demographics.

From January 2014 all GA users will be able to see the following demographic and online behaviour reports:

  1. Age: break down of users by age.
  2. Gender: break down of users by gender.
  3. Affinity Categories: break down of users based on their lifestyle (frequent travellers, music lovers, holiday makers, etc).
  4. Other Categories: break down of users by the topics of content they consume online (business and finance, travel, sports, etc)

These reports can be filtered and segmented within GA to learn more about visitors for different parts of the website.

For example, property agents will be able to generate dedicated demographic and interest reports for their property sales, lettings or commercial sector. This will identify targeting options such as age group, gender and behavioural targeting.

The following are three benefits from age, gender and interests reporting on GA:

  1. Consumer segmentation: While the standard reports allow you to understand how different ages (or gender, affinity…) are performing, using a segment will enable you to merge this data with other interesting dimensions such as campaigns, country or content. For example, you can combine the geographic location of users visiting a certain section of your website and their age group and or gender.

    GA Demographics

  2. Remarketing activities: Since the reports mentioned above are also available for Google Analytics’ remarketing, you will be able to use the insights discovered above when creating your lists. So, for example, if you discover that the Music Lovers category for ages 25-34 is underperforming significantly, you could create a remarketing list for those people; using this list you can create a campaign to reach out to them in other websites in the Google Display Network with a special “Musical” offer.
  3. Analyze A/B Tests: If you are A/B testing a holiday page to see which creative works better (a photo of a family on holiday, a couple walking on a beach or a photo of a resort). The overall test result shows you that the couple image would increase overall conversion rates by 30%. However, using the Age segment described above, you might see that the results vary significantly among different age groups. And you might find out that the best creative for 18-24 is couples photos, 25-34 is resorts photos and 35-44 is family on holiday photos.

With Google Analytics Demographics & Interests reports we can now optimise your website based on your visitors in a smarter way. Get in touch with Four Communications to help you enable and analyse your reports to optimise your website content, user experience and media schedules.

News Corp Reports Revenue Decline

News Corp, the publisher of newspapers including The Times and The Sun, has reported a 2.8% decline in revenues for the quarter ending 30th September 2013 with a decline in advertising being blamed for the decrease.

In the first quarter since News Corp was split into a highly successful entertainment company and a less profitable publishing business earlier this year, the latter’s net income rose from a loss of $83 million last year to a profit of $38 million. However, year-on-year annual sales actually fell from $2.13 billion to $2.07 billion, falling short of the $2.18 billion total predicted by analysts, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.


The news division, whose portfolio includes titles in the US, the UK and Australia, saw advertising fall 12 percent and revenues from circulation and subscription decrease by 6 percent with the Australian papers accounting for the largest decline (a 22% drop in sales).

In response to the results, Robert Thompson, News Corp’s chief executive, was keen to highlight that the company is in a period of transition with the brands’ evolution into digital content providers key to its future: “Our first quarter as the new News was the beginning of a journey in the digital development of the company. We […] are transforming our publishing operations longer-term into multi-platform businesses [and] we are even more convinced the company will thrive as the company becomes more digital.”

Paid websites represent a key part of this strategy – it is now three years since The Times and Sunday Times websites went behind a paywall with The Sun following suit earlier this year. While it has been a controversial approach at odds with that of the highly successful Guardian and Daily Mail sites, News UK argue that the indisputable reduction in visitors is compensated for by the quality of the data they have on their subscribers and, therefore, the level of targeting which they can offer advertisers. However, from Four’s point-of-view, this reduced traffic makes it difficult to reach a sufficient number of people on more niche areas of the site relevant to our clients, such as the Property section.

In addition, News UK has identified the iPad and tablet apps as central to a strong digital offering, with increased functionality and a wider range of creative advertising solutions being planned for 2014. With Tesco’s £119 Hudl tablet tipped to be a strong seller this Christmas, we believe that a presence on apps will become increasingly important to many of our clients in the coming months.

Can Twitter Work as an Ad Medium?

On its first day as a public company Twitter was valued at £19bn. Following its successful stock market launch, Twitter now needs to prove to investors that it can effectively grow its revenue; one medium through which it would do this is advertising.


There are 230 million users globally on Twitter, 76% of which access Twitter on a mobile device. Therefore advertisers are extremely interested in utilising mobile ads. In response to this, Twitter is introducing a new set of targeting capabilities for mobile devices.  Now all advertisers can segment audiences on iOS and Android by operating system version, specific device, and WiFi connectivity. This helps advertisers reach the users most important to them, for example mobile app developers can target users with the necessary operating systems, prompting a new download or re-engagement through an app card. This is something that has previously been successfully operated by Facebook, the main rival of Twitter.

Telco companies can now also promote loyalty and rewards to users on their specific devices. All marketers can focus campaigns on users with device models that are indicative of demographics which align to their campaign goals.

Furthermore there is now the self-serve ad platform to be used by small businesses across the UK. Anyone with a Twitter account and a credit card can now buy promoted tweets and promote accounts; targeted through keywords or interests and followers.

In addition to this, the new segmentation reporting gives advertisers better insights in to the OS versions and specific devices of users engaging with their general campaigns.


So will Twitter be an effective advertising platform? Despite the many advantages of using advertising on social media, the juxtaposed dangers were suitably demonstrated last month on Facebook, when a video showing a human decapitation appeared without warning. This was a disaster for advertisers sharing this content on the same page. Clearly, regulation of content is a difficult and controversial issue to tackle. Twitter has its own pitfalls for companies, for example companies are being warned about Twitter ‘trolls’; who can harm the company’s reputation with unprovoked criticism.

Now that images are allowed, ads appearing in Twitter are much more prominent. This does change the experience for the user. As Twitter pushes for more advertising there is the potential for a backlash from users as they are inundated with adverts. Plans were revealed to widen its advertising to target “every business on the planet”. Although this is brilliant news for small/medium businesses, this may not sit well with some users. Therefore a fine balance needs to be reached to avoid the over-saturation of adverts, on Twitter feeds, driving its users away.

Tackling Tablet Advertising [Guest Blog]


Giles Milner, PR and Marketing Manager at estate agents Chesterton Humberts, offers some learnings from a project to bring the benefits of tablet advertising to the process of selling houses.

I think it is fair to say that the UK property industry, estate agencies included, cannot be considered ‘early adopters’ when it comes to new technology and are very rarely seen at the forefront of cutting-edge marketing.

I have always found this slightly odd, given that the industry has one of the most widely talked about, highly coveted, well publicised, emotive and expensive products on the market: homes. With the majority of the adult population owning one or having aspirations to own a property, the opportunity for online engagement new media in the industry is huge and yet surprisingly untapped.

As print readership continues to decline whilst tablet penetration rockets, with an estimated 30% of the UK population now using one, there is an opportunity to engage with the lost print readership that has migrated to digital versions via tablet versions of those print publications.

Despite the almost unbelievable growth of tablets since the launch of the iPad in 2010, when I took over the marketing team at Chesterton Humberts in 2012 I was struck by how slow both traditional media owners and our competitors seem to have been at embracing the level of interactivity that this platform can offer.

Currently, many media owners’ own technological limitations allow only very limited scope for innovation and interactive elements on their tablet editions and most of our competitors use a relatively flat advert or seem satisfied with ticking the ‘interactive’ box with a basic picture gallery.

Although it was clear that Chesterton Humberts needed to be advertising on this platform, I was reluctant to enter the tablet advertising arena with a ‘standard’ advert and was determined to create something more innovative, more engaging and more fun for readers – demonstrating the extent to which we embrace new technology for the benefit of our clients and setting the bar for other advertisers.

From experience, we know that the majority of people that read the property pages are more interested in the human-interest side of property and looking at pictures of beautiful homes than they are in market comment and traditional corporate advertising. With this knowledge, we decided to create a ‘native’ advert that would fit almost seamlessly within the media content and give readers what they would expect from the editorial element of the publication – the opportunity to explore someone else’s beautiful home, hear directly from the people selling the home (as opposed to the estate agent), learn the history of the property and enjoy some editorial-style, ‘not-on-the-brochure’ bits of information.

With the help of our media buyers, Four Communications, and the digital team at Adnostic, as long as you are on an iPad or using the CHROME browser, you can see the fruit of our efforts here.

Although of course slightly biased, Adnostic consider this one of the best ads they have ever done with Matt White, Creative Director, praising the way “it demonstrates tablet advertising’s capacity for advanced HTML animation and interaction and presents multi-pane content in an intuitive and premium manner”.

The feedback from our clients and the engagement statistics from the advert have so far been very positive, easily out-performing the average ‘flat’ advert, and this has encouraged us to start working on our next advert. Perhaps even more flattering is the fantastic feedback that we have had from the publications themselves, who seem just as excited as us to see this sort of innovation coming through.

For example, Lee Fels, Head of Mobile at The Guardian, notes that the campaign has twice as long an average dwell time as any other interstitial run in November. He went on to praise the way that the app seamlessly included multiple calls to action, noting that “it is easy to include a lot of CTAs into an iPad app, but the skill is to do so without cluttering the beauty of a full page advert delivered on tablet”.

I would love to say that we got everything right first time, but if I did, I would be lying. In reality, there are a few things that we did that we won’t do next time, but these all form a valuable lesson, the learnings from which we will incorporate into our next effort, along with some features and ideas that we didn’t manage to include the first time around so watch this space!