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6 recession-proof strategies news publishers and their advertisers need

By Mark Challinor


London, United Kingdom


With talks of recessions, cost of living crises, etc., in 2023, we need ways to protect our media business from the current market conditions, which is a global phenomenon. Here are some thoughts on how you do that for your ad clients while also ensuring your advertising business arm is set for growth in the long term in spite of any downturns in ad revenue as a whole.

It’s really essential to have a plan for these difficult times. Fortunately, there are a number of “recession-proof” advertising strategies we can take advantage of. See my top six below.

These advertising ideas, I think, will help your media business continue to be successful in ad sales, even during a recession. All part of understanding our agencies’/advertisers’ world and how we sell to them, consultatively.

1. Focus on UX — the all-important user experience

Many of today’s global marketplaces have shifted towards values, authenticity, and top-quality customer service. Indeed, around 65% (source: Statusphere) of Millennials, for example, are happy to pay more for a good user experience.

Advertisers can win over more news audiences with a stellar user experience.
Advertisers can win over more news audiences with a stellar user experience.

Generally speaking, the best advertisers understand that happy/satisfied customers will give good reviews and then become brand ambassadors by spreading the word (and quickly). It’s far easier to advertise your brand when customers have already marked it mentally as one of their favourites.

Indeed, word-of-mouth “advertising” is a crucial factor in 74% of purchase decisions (source: It drives trillions of dollars of spending every year.

So, by focusing on the user experience, there are also a number of ways we can continuously improve that.                                         

If your advertisers are providing the best possible service, they ensure their service is always completed swiftly and efficiently and satisfactorily for the customer.

Many advertisers, I feel, still fail to deliver on an expected level of customer service. And whilst they’ll never make everyone happy, delivering excellent customer service can compensate for other areas — even product deficiencies. Show your clients as being honest, reliable, friendly, quick, and efficient. It leads to greater ad spend with us. Sometimes the best customer service is all about just listening. It’s then about building up a two-way partnership with them.

We should always be looking for ways to improve the campaign and brand promise for the client. As a media business, we should constantly find new ways to suggest improvements while the client still provides a continuous high-quality service — e.g. can the price of the client product be reduced? Can they reduce delivery wait time?

This is the time to go above and beyond to impress the target market. Let them know that ultimately, your client is different/better than their competitors.

2. Improve client conversion rates with automated e-mails

All businesses can improve conversion rates. It is important to ensure your ad client is sending out (automated) e-mails to their customers.

By promoting client content through e-mail marketing, we can ensure that we’re reaching each one of the client customers and getting them excited about the products.

3Analyse the competition

Analysing our client competitors for them is one of the smartest strategies we can use. By analysing competitor content and their back-end search engine optimisation (SEO), we can capitalise on what the competitors are failing to do. Again, this can lead to greater ad spend with us.

4. Utilise social media to engage

Social media can be a great way to get your clients in front of larger audiences. By having a solid social media presence and a robust accompanying strategy, we can drive interested/appropriate customers to, say, an online store. Maybe there are e-commerce opportunities on the back of it for us? (Check this space on Thursday for a report on e-commerce opportunities for news publishers.)

By interacting with customers on social media and positioning our client brand as the authority in the channel or niche, we can guarantee the best possible sales and reviews that can be obtained.

It’s also vital to build a strong social media presence through exclusive content. It’s not enough to simply post content online. We all need to ensure it’s only available to the ad client customers on our social media sites. This will encourage a strong relationship between customers and the client brand, which, in turn, will drive up conversion rates by encouraging content sharing with their friends and family.

5. Use content marketing to attract new users

As we all know, content marketing allows us to attract new customers for our client brands by providing those potential customers with interesting and valuable content, which perhaps they might not have seen if just presented as “traditional” advertising.

There are a couple of things we might consider if going down this path:

  • Create a blog and regularly update it. It is a great way to share knowledge and information with customers (and a revenue diversification opportunity). Via a blog, the client brand can be seen that to be always “on the money” and up to date with the marketplace. Blogs are also a fabulous way to build back-links to an advertiser’s Web site, helping influence search engine ranking.
  • Publish content that influences customer engagement. This is an effective way to improve conversion rates. You can create a strategy by creating content that suggests customers share experiences of the relevant product. Building this strategy for the client is another new revenue source.

6. Track progress

Finally, you will need to see if your client’s ad strategies are working. By using back-end analytics tools such as Google analytics, or by using Facebook ads for example, you can confirm that you’re seeing ROI/growth. This then allows you to tell if the ad strategies are really working.

There are many advertising strategies out in the “ether.” By using the right one(s), we can ensure our client ad campaigns that we have put out to our clients are indeed recession-proof.

The above should help your salespeople do just that.

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About Mark Challinor

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