How journalism feeds advertising revenue at Globe and Mail

By Dawn McMullan


Dallas, Texas, United States


My degree and background are in journalism, not the business side of the news media industry, which is where I spend more time here at INMA. So I’m always excited when the two come together — which they increasingly do these days as reader revenue rises to be a key industry topic.

Tracy Day is managing director/creative studio and ad innovation at The Globe and Mail Media Group in Canada. In October, the company launched its reader- and content-focused brand campaign, “Journalism Matters to You,” which follows on the heels of its 2016 campaign, “Journalism Matters.”

In the course of the campaign, the company plans to “turn our lens to why news matters to the individual in their day-to-day lives.” The goal is to take advantage of “the reach of platforms and partnerships, layered with proprietary data from internal insights teams, including dynamic ads across the Globe Alliance network and content strategies from the Globe Content Studio.”

I love the way well-branded, excellent journalism is inextricably tied to advertising revenue, as Day explains it. 

INMA: What is The Globe and Mail’s biggest idea/initiative for the coming year? 

Day: For the coming year, our intent is to continue to deliver the strongest journalism possible with the help of our proprietary AI tools [named Sophi and Delphi], allowing us to better distribute the content, get the right material in the right format at the right time of day, night, and week in front of our readers. This initiative will continue to enhance the engagement of our readers and increase the value of our audience to our advertisers.

The Globe and Mail engineers and data scientists built two proprietary AI tools, Sophi and Delphi, to measure content success, create a foundation for newsroom content-related decisions, and to identify high-value content even before it is published.
The Globe and Mail engineers and data scientists built two proprietary AI tools, Sophi and Delphi, to measure content success, create a foundation for newsroom content-related decisions, and to identify high-value content even before it is published.

INMA: Could you share one or two of the pieces of your journalism that you feel have had the most impact on the world or your audience?

Day: Unfounded, a 20-month-long investigation spearheaded by Robyn Doolittle into the way Canadian police handle sexual-assault complaints. Using data gathered from hundreds of police services across the country, the project showed that sexual-assault complaints are twice as likely to be dismissed as unfounded than complaints in other assault cases.

INMA: What do you see as the big opportunities in 2019 and how are you taking advantage of them? 

Day: Focusing on a premium brand environment. Context is still king. If you have a strong editorial voice, the influence is powerful and is what is communicated to our advertising partners. News media provided by legacy newspaper brands is typically trusted, brand safe, and contributes to society in a constructive way. Readers have a relationship with the product, and we need to capitalise on that relationship by showcasing results and ROI.

INMA: What success within your company are you most proud of at this moment? 

Day: The fact that we are adapting to change and transforming our business model based on the demands of the marketplace. Custom solutions are key to our advertising partners, and we have had to build a team and process equipped to deal with those demands while managing costs.

We are also building inter-departmental relationships to understand the fine balance between subscription and advertising. The pendulum is changing and we are working together to provide mutual benefits, e.g. following LEAN [Light, Encrypted, AdChoice-supported, Non-invasive ads] advertising principles and building the number of highly engaged subscribers.

INMA: What keeps you up at night? 

Day: Finding the light when you hear that the top seven ad platforms (Google, Facebook, Amazon, Verizon, Microsoft, Twitter, and Snap) will take 80% of digital media spend globally this year — and the rest of the digital ad market will decline 11%. That is when you have to remind yourself of your brand’s UVP [unique value proposition] and the successful results you have provided to your partners as a premium publisher with a solid, committed audience. 

INMA: What innovations in creative ad techniques do you expect to be introduced to the news media industry in 2019? 

Day: AI ads such as interactive chatbots (watch out for IBM Watson!), AR, native, and e-commerce units will be the hot shots. But it is all about utilising products that work within your environments, e.g. podcasts that relate to the content your audience expects, influencers that fit with your brand, etc. 

Audience engagement and retention are key. Audience targeting, with the use of premium data, will continue to be top of the list. But it will become more sophisticated as it will be used to help provide solutions along the customer journey to move people further down the path to purchase.

About Dawn McMullan

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