Tag Archives: online advertising

Climbing the Paywall

It is common knowledge these days that newspaper print is declining as people switch to online alternatives. The rise in the smart phone/tablet market means that consumers now demand up to date, quality news at all hours of the day. What does this mean for the future of news?

Online news, providing rapid access to news content at any time of the day would seem great for consumers, but is it? With declining circulation and readership figures across the industry, the future looks bleak for printed newspapers. News brands’ financial prospects are under threat as revenue for online advertising is not being fully monetized yet. While news brands’ experiment with new business models to try and revive their finances outside of print, the dilution of content reduces the quality of the content published as journalists are being stretched thin. The expectation to write more articles in a shorter time period unsurprisingly impacts the quality of what is being published.

Online News, Newspaper Paywall

Source: www.sprout.nl

The Times and The Sunday Times were the first publishers to adopt the paywall model which is when the consumer pays a subscription fee to access the online content. This was considered suicidal at the time by some; however the model is beginning to flourish with the number of online subscribers increasing 45% between the end of March 2012 and March 2013, to 140,000. Many other rival publishers, including The Sun, have followed suit with the paywall model. Consumers’ paying for their news will ultimately benefit from higher quality service and content as newspapers are able to afford to keep quality journalism a high priority. And besides it is hardly a new phenomenon for consumer to be expected to pay for their news content. What is surprising is how long the idea has persisted that one group of people are paying for printed news, while another group receives the same content for free online.

It seems inevitable for news brands to implement some kind of ‘pay for online content’ system. Chris Blackhurst, content director of the Independent and Evening Standard, believes that it is only a matter of time until all online national newspaper content goes behind a paywall. Studies suggest that this transition will occur over the next three years while 27 per cent of media companies said that they expects significant shift in profit margin increase over the same three year period. There are still unanswered questions and much speculation looming over the pay wall for online content which we will report on as clarity unfolds.

The ‘Rising Stars’ of digital media?

At Four we are always looking for ways to increase the effectiveness of our campaigns.

Visually creative new ideas that encourage audience interactions are being dubbed the ‘the canvasses of the future’ for brand advertising on digital platforms. Needless to say, it is a great way to run a branding campaign that drives user engagement.

As you can see from the chart below, the statistics demonstrate that the click-through rate (CTR) for these rich media banners tends to be significantly higher than standard banners:

Rich Media Banners


Some examples of these banners and how they work:

  • Dynamic skins that offer a stimulating background to a webpage.
  • Product carousels that allow the user to scroll through an ad and navigating further accordingly.
  • 3D MPUs literally jump out of the page at you, a sure way to catch the eye of the audience.
  • Gliders that present a floating ad in front of the original article, which can be navigated accordingly by the user.
  • Shutters that play a video advert when a user clicks or hovers over the ad that contain product images and further calls to action, such as ‘view further images’, ‘register now’, ‘click to purchase’ or ‘view more information

Not only do users tend to spend more time engaging with these ad formats, research also shows that users liked the ads more, saying that they improved their impression of the website more than standard banners.

The great advantage of using these ads is that they are deliberately interactive; they are designed to make it as easy as possible to instantly engage with a brand or product. This gives the audience the freedom to interact and explore the advert within a pop-up microsite, without being pulled away from their original article.

Below is an annotated example of an ‘open door’ format created by Adform:

Open Door Ad format

Source: www.adform.com/site/help-and-resources/

UK Advertising Trends: An Olympic Sink or Swim?

In 2012 UK adspend is forecast to increase by an aggregated 3.3% (based Carat, GroupM, Advertising Association, Zenith Optimedia and Strategy Analytics), however, the bleak economy and a number of major events has made it difficult for forecasters to predict with certainty the rise in revenue. With ZenithOptimedia suggesting a 3.5% growth and AA/Warc predicting a 2.5% growth.

Forecasts for 2013 are also extremely conservative with an aggregate 3.7% growth predicted fuelled by a fundamental shift towards digital which is predicted to provide a further 10.4% growth in 2013.

How did the different factors of 2012 affect the overall adspend forecasts?


Television is set to have the biggest revisions due the BBC’s Olympic monopoly. A slow start in Q1 and Q2 has dimmed expectations and only marginal growth is predicted for 2012.

Source: Mediatel


The major sporting events and the Diamond jubilee were an opportunity for print media adspend to attempt to recover from its persistent downward turn. However, it is now thought that overall Newspapers continue to experience negative growth in 2012.

Source: Mediatel


As with print media, magazines are predicted to have struggle in terms of ad revenue. GroupM believes that tablets have preserved (or even raised) quality newspaper readership, and it would be possible for a few consumer magazines to achieve this too. Business-to-business magazines, though improving, are likely to continue to struggle.

Source: Mediatel


Radio in contrast is expected to experience a healthy growth. Group M have forecast 4.7% growth and Carat have predicted a growth of 2.4%.

Source: Mediatel


Cinema is looking to build on a very promising Q1 result of 10% growth. GroupM have forecast a growth of 4.0% in 2012.

Source: Mediatel


Outdoor is one of the few media expected to flourish in 2012. With an average 4.4% growth. This success is due to the Olympics, Euro 2012 and Diamond Jubilee. This medium is then due to increase by 1.8% in 2013 as the capacity for digital formats reaches its peak.

Source: Mediatel


Digital media is expected to continue to boom this year. The medium continues to go from strength to strength. Group M believe they will deliver a 14.2% growth for the year.

Source: Mediatel

Overall, this year’s major events have affected how different media may have performed in recent months. 2013 will provide a challenge for all media given the return to ‘normality’ and no immediate signs of recovery in the economic outlook.

Facebook Set for Gowalla Acquisition

It has been confirmed that Gowalla (a location sharing application), a key competitor of the FourSquare has been bought by Facebook for an undisclosed figure.

The co-founder Gowalla, Josh Williams, says:

“It’s been the highlight of our lives as we’ve built it with your help over the past two years. As we move forward, we hope some of the inspiration behind Gowalla – a fun and beautiful way to share your journey on the go – will live on at Facebook.”

The deal is Facebook’s most significant in 2011 and comes in light of new competition from other social networks such as Google+. Although Facebook now boasts 800 million users, their new noisy neighbour which launched in June this year, has already acquired over 40 million users, posing a real threat to the dominance of the world’s largest social media platform.

With unique features such as ‘Hangouts’ (an application that multiple users can video call and interact with each at any one time), Google+ is seemingly targeting Facebook’s crown as market leader.