£10m newspaper ad give-away

National newspapers are giving away £10m of advertising space as part of a programme to highlight the benefits of the medium.

The deal, which kicks off in January and is spearheaded by the Newspaper Marketing Agency, will give clients the opportunity to appear in national press titles as part of a study to monitor the effectiveness of advertising campaigns.

Advertisers must allow the NMA to publish case studies on the results.

The NMA said all its members were taking part in the study, with the exception of the Financial Times .

It hoped to attract advertisers from all sectors, particularly those that were not heavy advertisers in the national press, such as food and cosmetics.

The move has been broadly welcomed by media agencies, who in the past have often greeted the NMA’s initiatives with a certain degree of scepticism.

Mark Gallagher, press director of Manning Gottlieb OMD, said: “Anything they do regarding research is very much welcomed; it’s exactly what everyone is looking for,” Gallagher said. “It’s a good step in the right direction and should be viewed as investment in the growth of the medium, as opposed to giving away loads of free space. Any research of this kind is welcomed.”

Jo Blake, press director at Carat, also welcomed the concept, while expressing reservations about the practicalities of administering the programme.

“I think it’s a very good idea, mainly because it gets clients using newspapers in a different way; the client has to make sure the NMA publishes results,” she said. “So there’s a real move to prove newspaper advertising is a good thing.

Blake added: “And although £10m sounds – and is – like a great deal of money, the reality is that this is spread out over an eight-month period, from January to August. Where I would be sceptical is to wonder how the programme is being administered and how that £10m of revenue is going to be made up.”

Alex Randall, head of press for Vizeum, also said the move should be viewed positively, and as part of a long-term research programme. “This isn’t just about giving away free space for the sake of it; it’s all about improving understanding of the advertising medium. And that has to be a good thing.”

And Steve Goodman, group press director for MediaCom, said: “It’s fantastic that the NMA has been able to get these heavily competing media owners together and jointly developed research that will hopefully prove newspapers do more than they are sometimes given credit for. I also believe the research will help prove that newspaper advertising does improve the image of a brand.”

Goodman also cautioned the need for the NMA to ensure that a broad spread of clients and agencies are involved, together with the need to obtain productive feedback.

The programme forms the third part of the NMA’s Measuring Advertising Effectiveness – A Fresh Approach research project.

 By Lucia Cockcroft

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