GroupM has unveiled its Back to News (BTN) initiative to address the spread of misinformation, fake news, and incendiary content due to the rise of digital platforms and the prevalence of "citizen journalism."
These developments have also resulted in a shift in audience habits, where people are more inclined to consume free content or pay as little as possible for media services.
In addition, the developments pose a significant challenge to ‘responsible journalism,’ which must inform not only the public but also find a sustainable business model to keep its operations running. This challenge is particularly acute for newspapers, which have traditionally relied on a combination of reader subscriptions and advertising.
The program, created in collaboration with media support nonprofit Ads for News, wants to help news media and will allow GroupM clients to access ‘superior ad environments’ on approved local, national, and international news websites.
According to GroupM's ‘This Year Next Year Advertising Forecast,’ the share of advertising for newspapers (including their digital extensions) in the Asia Pacific region has decreased from 16% in 2013 to 3% in 2022.
To maintain the viability of newspapers, the advertising industry can help sustain overall operations, enable responsible journalism to play its crucial role in society, and offer brands the numerous benefits of news.
Under GroupM's initiative in APAC, Ads for News will help the WPP media network give advertisers access to a vetted and curated portfolio of 8,000 trusted local news websites from 30 countries, with the aim of channelling incremental advertising investment towards credible news outlets.
The intiative is backed by GroupM Consumer Eye research underlining the issues facing news media and the support the industry needs.
Key research findings
1. For more than half (57%) of APAC consumers, “fake news on social media” is a concern.
2. Free TV channels and newspapers – both crucial to providing responsible journalism – are two of the top three platforms consumers view as making the world a better place.
3. Just 17% of those surveyed preferred a paid service free of newspaper advertisements. When asked how much they would be willing to pay for a subscription that reduced or eliminated advertising, over half (57%) stated they would only pay $1 per month to access news publications.
4. In situations where there is no effective quality control throughout the media supply chain, advertising can unintentionally contribute to the spread of fake news. Nevertheless, 73% of survey respondents recognize the significant role advertising plays in supporting reliable news sources through funding responsible journalism.