IAB UK’s regional roadshow heads to Stoke

Posted on Wednesday 13 September 2023 | IAB UK

At our second regional roundtable, MPs for Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme sat down with local media and business leaders to discuss how digital advertising can support growth in the area

“We know our audiences well… we’re on a journey for registered users”, explained Reach’s Graeme Brown, opening our second regional roundtable, hosted in Stoke. How to leverage digital advertising to help small businesses reach these audiences via the local press - and in turn bolster news organisations - shaped the following discussion. 

In attendance were: Aaron Bell, MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme; Christie Dennehy-Neil, Head of Policy & Regulatory Affairs at IAB UK; Graeme Brown, Editor of the Birmingham Mail & Birmingham Live; Marc Waddington, Editor of Stoke-on-Trent Live & Stoke Sentinel; Matt Bridger representing Jo Gideon, MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central; Nigel Black, Head of Product Marketing at Reach plc; Jonathan Gullis, MP for Stoke-on-Trent North; Jon Mew, CEO of IAB UK; and Sara Williams, Head of Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce. 

Key points raised included…

  • Educating small businesses about how to use digital ads

“We have a duty of care for small businesses… but how do we help educate those small businesses in terms of what they’re buying?” asked Black. “They need help, guidance and trust” he added, explaining that the team at Reach have a big focus on educating SMEs about how to leverage online advertising - but that “collectively we need to be doing more”.  Williams pointed out that more could be done to target and help specific businesses on the high street that are struggling.  

  • Leveraging the hyper-local opportunity 

Gullis, who is MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, said that when local press cover hyper-local stories it gives businesses in that area a prime opportunity to align themselves with it. In this vein, Black explained that Reach is developing more hyper-local products, such as InYourArea, to tap into the potential for tight local targeting and help SMEs leverage that. 

  • Addressing advertisers’ nuanced view of local media 

According to Williams, SME advertisers have an “increasingly nuanced” view of local media as they are keen to avoid aligning their brand with negative news stories. Waddington agreed that negative stories are often what gain traction on social platforms because people are sharing them, which can give businesses a “distorted view of what your local media is” and the range of stories covered. 

  • The expectation that news should be free 

“News is expensive to make… but we’ve got this idea in our head that it should be free”, said Waddington - discussing how local media can successfully monetise. He added that building on direct relationships with readers via a bank of registered users is a key priority for Reach, giving the business a powerful offering for advertisers.

Bell, MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme, said that he worries about the long-term sustainability of local journalism and, when it comes to readers, “the only way you get people paying is if content is behind a paywall”. Waddington acknowledged this but added: “The risk is that you end up with a two tier system…  [and] deprivation of access to proper local information.” All agreed that maintaining media plurality at a local level is essential for the economic and societal health of local areas. 

Our roadshow of regional roundtables is continuing throughout the rest of 2023, with an event being hosted in Leeds later in September. You can read the write up of our first event, hosted in Newcastle, here

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