Digital Media
The findings show that ‘newspaper ads outperformed Facebook up to four times Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: Newspaper ads outperforming those placed on Facebook and YouTube?

For any advertiser or marketer who thinks this is next to impossible in a ‘digital is everything’ world should take a pause and check some of the findings from a new survey done in Australia. Print ads, the study found, had a much greater memory impact on readers than anything they saw on social media channels.

This was not a study skewed to show results that it still pays to advertise on proper news platforms, including print. The survey and the findings came from MediaScience, a research consultancy that tracked ad performance on traditional as well as on digital media. The findings covered ads placed in all of the major Australian news portals and newspapers as well as on Facebook and YouTube.

In these interesting times, when technology is making data available in plenty, finding the truth and evidence to be able to make right decisions, requires special skills and expertise to be able to deliver human understanding at scale, an area in which we strongly believe in and partner our clients across the globe.

- Manaswita Singh, Executive Director, Kantar Insights UAE

This is where it gets interesting – contrary to popular belief that traditional media does not deliver results, the findings show that ‘newspaper ads outperformed Facebook up to four times’. And ads placed on news portals on mobiles and desktops delivered 1.7 times the ‘unprompted recall’ of a six-second YouTube ad.

“A print ad is even outperforming a video ad – that’s pretty telling” said Duane Varan, CEO of MediaScience, was quoted as saying at the time of the report’s release.

News matters everywhere

While the findings of this survey are based on news and ad consumption patterns in Australia, chances are that news – verifiable, curated news – matter whichever be the market. Just as important are the platforms that deliver the news.

Where each placement of content is vetted as part of the process of its delivery to the reader - and not ‘filtered’ in or out by AI or humans as an afterthought, which is what happens on social media channels. As events unfolding the pandemic have shown, even with all the safeguards in place, social media platforms just could not keep out all the half-baked conspiracy theories from spreading through their channels.

Advertising industry sources say that the lower cost of advertising on social media is a key factor in adding to their already impressive clout to drive marketing campaigns. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

“It’s highly unlikely that any of these filters would ever work in spreading theories and fake news,” said Rakesh Kumar, CEO at the marketing consultancy Human. “Social media responsibility should ideally be set via norms for responsible sharing of news and views. To achieve this end goal, it will require collective society approval - and this will eventually take a long time.”

So, even with all the evidence suggesting vaccines are a must-have, social media chatter still carry detailed sermons about why they are ineffective. Mind you, these thoughts and theories are delivered by self-proclaimed experts without any scientific expertise to back them up.

While there is public acknowledgement of circulating fake news and theories, the social media channels haven’t put enough curbs. In reality, blocking news or setting violation norms will have limited impact. Governance bodies and legal teams have been set up to commit to this issue. However, the impact is still limited and reporting of such issues publically is restricted.

- Rakesh Kumar, CEO of Human

As long as conspiracy theories were confined to the realms of politics, the impression was that social media generated mischief can be contained. But when every day delivers new theories related to COVID-19 and the “cures” for it, then the risks get magnified. Even with all the added filters Facebook or YouTube place, these distorted versions eventually get through.


surge in fake news

“Fake news has definitely soared through this pandemic, with some countries estimating an increase in fake news to the tune of 30-35 per cent, covering various aspects from number of cases/deaths reported to preventive measures – like drinking six cups of coffee a day keeps corona away,” said Manaswita Singh, Executive Director, Kantar Insights UAE. “Or that wearing a mask doesn’t really help. “There are currently various studies going on to estimate the impact of fake news on beliefs and behaviours, from shaping political beliefs to adopting new behaviours. In fact, Kantar’s Covid Barometer study, revealed that during the pandemic, trust in social media was relatively lower than the traditional broadcast media, mainly due to the authenticity aspect.”

Will advertisers take heed?

The evidence has been there in front of them for some time now – that while social media channels have the power to deliver their ads, are they the most trusted medium for that? Will a healthcare brand like to be placed alongside content that suggests a mask is not necessary to counter the corona?

Advertising industry sources say that the lower cost of advertising on social media is a key factor in adding to their already impressive clout to drive marketing campaigns. But if trust in social media keeps eroding, can advertisers still keep spending on such platforms? Is reach more important than trust?

Ads placed in news media consistently outperform ads on Facebook and YouTube, according to a study conducted by Australia’s ThinkNewsBrands. The cross-platform analysis found that while ads in both print and digital news publications perform better than ads in the social media channels, print ads specifically had a much greater memory impact on readers.

- Vincent Peyrègne, CEO at WAN-IFRA

The MediaScience survey in Australia comes up with findings that should make advertisers think – and think some more about how they ought to be planning their next campaigns. News matters and so does the platform that they are delivered on.

The COVID-19 period only served to remind everyone that news and facts need to go together.