Nine CEO Hugh Marks has urged publishers to put more effort into creating an engaging environment for consumers, which will, in turn, lead to more effective advertising.
Speaking on the topic of trust at NewsMediaWorks’ INFORM Summit on Friday afternoon, Marks said the onus was on the publishing industry to make consumers trust media.
“We as an industry need to do a much better job of communicating to the audience the reasons why they should engage with our content; because it’s hopefully quality.
“No one sets out to make crap, so hopefully quality content that engages an audience in an environment where the audience can trust what they’re receiving; that should lead to an engaged audience which should lead to the best advertiser outcome,” he said.
Touching on ad revenue, Marks said there are a few trillion-dollar companies which publishers need to work with better.
“We have trillion-dollar market cap businesses that have entered our market and are competing for advertising and in two senses, there are real issues.
“One is; what is their contribution to our industry, and not that I expect much from them from a creative point of view; how are we able to use those platforms in a way that we can extend both the content relationship and the advertising relationship.
“The extent that we’re inhibited or, even worse, prohibited from doing that, I think that’s a real issue that requires analysis.
He added: “On the second point; the notion these platforms are ‘dumb pipes’ that take no responsibility for what goes down the pipe; well once you’re a trillion-dollar company, and you’re basically building your business on your ability to generate revenue from audiences, a lot of those audiences are coming in from content created by third parties.
“You’re also then providing a platform for all other sorts of crap, and to not take responsibility for those pipes is an issue,” Marks said.
Talking specifically about Facebook, Marks warned fake advertising is damaging to consumers, publishers and advertisers.
Citing the example of fake skin cream ads, Marks said: “It’s a social harm. It’s doing damage to our people and damaging our business.
“It’s damaging the community because the community has learnt over many years to trust the publisher and what’s presented by journalists, and then to be presented with a fake skin cream and for no responsibility to be taken or no action to be taken is a real issue that needs to be addressed,” he added.
Going forward, Marks said any returns on investment (ROI) in ad spend can only come from good content.
“At the end of the day, what you want is a ROI and ROI comes from a quality environment with an engaged consumer.
“That is where you want to advertise… so how we move to that over time as an industry and how we communicate that to the broader market I think again is a challenge for us.
“As business leaders, we have a responsibility to do that, so we can continue to invest in the content because it’s not cheap; that’s the problem, we have to invest in content that’s going to create that environment so there’s trust at both levels.”