On the MiC: Earl Wilkinson

International Newsmedia Marketing Association's CEO previews his FFWD Ad Week talk about the evolving news industry.

FFWD Advertising & Marketing Week is just a week away, and promises to deliver a series of panels and talks that run the gamut of issues facing the media and advertising industries. The Jan. 29 Toronto Star Speaker Series, New Oxygen. New Growth, features Earl Wilkinson, executive director and CEO of the International Newsmedia Marketing Association (INMA), who will discuss the shift of the news industry from a print to a multimedia business, and the opportunities this change creates for marketers.

MiC caught up with Wilkinson to get his insight on the changes within the news industry and what they mean going forward.

MiC: What opportunities does the multimedia shift in the news industry present to advertisers?

Wilkinson: I’m a big believer in print. I believe in its effectiveness. There’s plenty of research that shows that print, by itself, works. But the INMA has done research with its membership worldwide, and we’ve brought together case studies that show the combination of print and digital has demonstrated a 20 to 30% improvement in ad effectiveness over print alone, in North America, Europe, Latin America and South Asia especially.

MiC: How is the industry-advertiser relationship changing?

Wilkinson: We’re not your father’s newspaper anymore. Advertisers, when they think newspapers they think print only, but increasingly we’re becoming solution providers regardless of the platform. We’re almost becoming an agency within an agency, insofar as we want to know what advertisers are trying to achieve. We’re not selling space anymore. We’re selling some unique combination of a series of platforms [that can include] print plus augmented reality plus online video plus mobile.

MiC: Who are the industry leaders and why?

Wilkinson: It’s Schibsted in Norway, Bonnier in Sweden, Axel Springer in Germany, Telegraph Media Group in the UK, The New York Times in the U.S and Fairfax Media in Australia. They all are companies that have made a commitment to being truly multimedia companies and being smart about platforms.

We’re an industry that has become comfortable with talking about the strengths and weaknesses of print and the strengths and weaknesses of our brands on a tablet, smart phone or website. Those companies are leading the way in that.

MiC: What are the challenges for companies to get to those next steps?

Wilkinson: The biggest challenge is, oddly enough, ourselves. It’s not changing our cultures to keep up with how quickly we become multimedia companies. I find that the biggest impediment to becoming a multimedia company is ultimately having a traditional print culture, and not being willing to confront the culture before the strategy.

MiC: Where do you see the news industry headed in the next year?

Wilkinson: We will become more comfortable in our multimedia skin and that will be driven by the development of the smart phone. When you look at mobile, the tablet is where the deep, rich content experience is, but the smart phone is where the numbers are. I think we’re going to skew toward mobile more and more every day, but more specifically the smart phone.

FFWD Advertising and Marketing week runs from Monday Jan. 28 to Friday Feb. 1 at various venues across Toronto. Wilkinson’s talk will be held at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on Tuesday Jan. 29 at 4 p.m.