Johnston Press headlines early signs of advertising revival

Concerns over ‘fake news’ and social media privacy fuel return to newspapers

Advertisers are starting to increase spending on regional print, said Johnston Press, which publishes the Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post. Photograph: iStock

Advertisers are starting to increase spending on regional print, said Johnston Press, which publishes the Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post. Photograph: iStock

 

Johnston Press, which publishes the Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post, said it was seeing “early signs of improvement” in print advertising as concerns about fake news and social media privacy drive a return to newspapers.

The industry has struggled as advertisers moved to online platforms, forcing several publishers including Trinity Mirror and Daily Mail and General Trust to cut costs.

However, in a possible first sign of a reversal, Johnston Press said on Tuesday that advertisers were starting to increase spending in regional print.

“Across our regional portfolio of titles national print advertising tracked in line with [the] prior year in the first quarter of 2018, with advertisers starting to increase spend in regional print,” the company said in a statement.

Reuters reported last week that the European Union is set to demand tech giants such as Facebook and Alphabet do more to stop the spread of fake news by the end of the year to avoid possible regulatory actions.

Improving scrutiny

The measures include improving the scrutiny of advertisement placements, among others.

Newspapers and other traditional media could benefit as advertisers seek brand-safe environments, which are not guaranteed on social media platforms, said brokers Liberum, adding this could have implications for Trinity Mirror and Daily Mail.

Social media platforms have come under mounting criticism after personal information of millions of users was gathered from Facebook by Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy.

Johnston Press, which has over 200 titles, also cited “a somewhat stronger overall” advertising market and said its ability to precisely target audiences using big data were also driver for positive ad spending.

Cost savings

However, the newspaper company said it would require cost savings as the trading environment would continue to be challenging, with pressure on revenue.

Total adjusted revenue fell 4.5 per cent to £201.2 million (€233.1 million) in the year ended December 30th, with print advertising declining 7.2 per cent.

Johnston Press said it had traded in line with its expectations in the first quarter of 2018, with higher adjusted core earnings. – Reuters