More than a Newspaper: why the NMA need to understand that News Institutions deserve better than the ability to ‘hit’ people with communications

Mediation came across the above ad in today's MediaGuardian, which last week reported that the NMA – the Newspaper Marketing Agency – is seeking to highlight the benefits of newspaper advertising against a gloomy performance backdrop.  Group M forecasts that total newspaper ad market will be down 26% year-on-year, representing more than £900m vanishing out of the sector.

its a issue all right, but far from providing an answer, the NMA's solution (above) tells us more about the NMA's collective failure to understand, or admit ot understanding, the roots of te sector's woes.

do more than most readers of a newspaper will do and take a good close look at the above ad.  "Flies aren't the only things you can hit with a newspaper" … "Nothing targets customers quite like a newspaper".  sorry, did I miss something?  I can only assume that I've woken from the weekend's adventures in the mid-90s…

its like every discussion I've had over the last eight years… about a shift from scarcity to abundance of stuff, a move from push to engagement marketing, from brand to people-centricity of thinking, never happened.  its like Clay Shirky, John Grant, Mark Earls, Henry Jenkins or any other of the great thinkers who have helped us understand the shifting sands of the communications landscape never wrote a word.

we stopped (or should have stopped) thinking about how we 'hit' people with communications years ago.  the ability of people to now avoid being 'hit' with things that they don't want to see or engage with is one of the pillars of the NMA and it's clients' problems.  is this really how they want readers to feel?NMA_flies_ad_close

we need news institutions, and moreover we need them to thrive.  they investigate and report, they hold our public servants to account.  they inform, inspire and educate us about the world, our society and our culture.  The Telegraph's exposure of and reporting on MPs expenses, and the Guardian's success last week in propelling Trafigura's super-injunction into the public awareness more than demonstrate that.

but they are more than newspapers.  the solution for news institutions is not to fight for an unrealistic share of advertising media budget; the world has too-far evolved, there's too much stuff out there and habits have changed too much to win that battle.  news institutions need to understand what they are and adapt their business structures accordingly…  as Emily Bell so eloquently writes only two pages before the above ad, "here is the fork in the road … there is a new hierarchy of communication controlled by the user, and for the older hierarchies there is the dilemma of whether to literally "follow the crowd" or to try to make the crowd follow you"

we need right now to stop thinking about 'hitting' people with our communications, our news institutions deserve better.


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