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The rise of online press during a pandemic

In an online world confused by fake news and misinformation, the current Coronavirus pandemic has led to a flood of new readers turning to trusted news brands to ensure they get facts they can rely on. A recent global report conducted by Edelman Trust Barometer 2020, Special Report: Trust and the Coronavirus, discovered that 67% of the British people are using major news organisations to get ‘most of their information on the virus’, miles ahead of the national government (34%) and social media (22%). Last week PAMCo’s latest readership audience report further demonstrated this shift towards trusted news environments, showing over 34 million people per day are now reading a news brand, a rise of over 3.2 million daily readers compared to the same report this time last year.

One of All Response Media’s trusted online press suppliers, Ozone, has reported 34.1m unique readers for the past 21 days. Although this is driven by users who are looking to find further information on the Coronavirus, it is having a ‘knock-up’ effect to overall daily engagement across all news stories. They’ve found that since the nation has been isolated, not only are the public turning to trusted publishers for information content, but also to be entertained.

The graphs below show the growth of users coming through to site for Coronavirus content, and also the effect this has had on 3 core verticals; shopping, business and finance, as well as education.

Coronavirus news users feb to march

shopping users feb to march

business & finance users feb to march

education users feb to march

However, despite the surge in demand from readers for trusted and accurate reporting, Newsworks has also reported a surge in demand for advertising blocklists. These blocklists prevent ads from appearing alongside news stories with the word ‘Coronavirus’ in them. Due to this, it is estimated that if the pandemic lasts for another 3 months, the expected loss across news brands is around £50 million, heavily threatening the publisher’s ability to fund the quality journalism that the British public relies on to keep them informed.

To keep the flow of information strong, it is requested that we not create unnecessary blocklists, and instead develop content that is sympathetic to the times and is not based on fearmongering. As an example, following the initial panic of advertisers looking to switch off their advertising budgets, some charity clients are looking to build awareness, and clients in the entertainment, banking and even travel sector are looking to build positive sentiment by entertaining users.

All Response Media viewpoint
Our clients’ investments and objectives will always come first, therefore if a client shouldn’t be advertising alongside Coronavirus related content (e.g. gyms), we will either be recommending using the blocklist or adapting to the current situation through other forms of media.

However, for clients that are less affected by the pandemic, we are suggesting continuing without the blocklist as this will not only enhance awareness due to the volume of users interacting with the content, but to also help keep the British public informed by funding trusted publishers. On top of this, we will also be investigating this as a new channel for clients not currently using online press as it is clear that some can increase their awareness and positive sentiment, whilst also contributing to the public.

For more information on the digital services we offer click here.