Advertising Audience Engagement Digital Publishing
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“Advertising attention soared 31%”: News UK doubles down on editorial context

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News UK, whose news brands include The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun, has released research showing that digital advertising placed in a relevant editorial context can significantly increase the attention it receives.

The research, based on an analysis of 980,000 impressions on The Sun’s website, found that putting an ad in a relevant editorial context increased attention on that same ad by 31%. The average viewing time for the ad also increased by 28%, from 1.8 seconds to 2.3 seconds.  

The research, undertaken by attention technology company Lumen Research, also looked into ads placed within a branded context, where the ad appeared against relevant sponsored content. The branded context improved attention on the ad by 20% and average viewing time by 11% (1.8 seconds vs 2 seconds).

This underlines what we know instinctively to be true, that advertising performs better when placed against content that is relevant to it. It’s also further evidence of the broader story that editorial context more generally is a hugely powerful driver of attention.

Ben Walmsley, Commercial Director, Publishing at News UK

Doubling down on editorial context and first-party data

Last year, in a preemptive strategy to combat the sunsetting of third-party cookies, News UK launched its own first-party data platform, Nucleus, to overhaul the way it collected, sorted, and monetized its audience data across all its brands.

A key part of the strategy is to allow News UK to segment its readership – estimated at 36.5m digital readers, listeners and viewers – not only by editorial context, but also emotional context and wider brand context. On emotion, for example, News UK breaks its content down into 12 different segments such as ‘thrilling’, ‘adventurous’, ‘amused’ or ‘in the mood to spend’. 

News UK subsequently fuses all its data signals from Nucleus, based on demographics as well as broader contextual attributes, to offer benchmarks to brand advertisers. The data platform is also leveraged internally to help drive personalized reader offers, better understand reader engagement with editorial content, as well as develop new advertising products and drive increased subscriptions.

Speaking to Digiday last year, Ben Walmsley Commercial Director, Publishing at News UK said that Nucleus was not just an attempt to fortify the publisher’s own ads business, but to sharpen how content is personalized across all its sites. He added, “When we talk to advertisers we’re being challenged on what we know about our audiences and can we create segments and offer data which offer a unique insight. That doesn’t come from data that is freely and readily available to anyone who can buy it via third-party data sets and cookies.”

We see a world where publisher data replaces third-party data to a large extent, particularly at the premium end where we would typically operate with other larger publisher brands looking to drive mid to upper-funnel impacts for marketers.

Ben Walmsley, Commercial Director, Publishing at News UK speaking to Digiday