Advertisers have instructed several of the major UK ad networks, including Tribal Fusion and Unanimis, to stop placing ads across News International websites.
According to four UK ad networks, brands and major media agency groups have instructed them not to serve display ads, such as banners, MPUs and headers, across The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times.
However, given that The Times and The Sunday Times are behind a paywall and have smaller audiences – which means there is little ’networked’ display ad inventory – The Sun is the main title that would be impacted.
UK ad networks including Tribal Fusion, Unanimis, Adconion and Jemm Media have all confirmed that they have been asked not to place ads on News International sites.
According to one ad network source, the News of the World “network display advertising ban” requested last week included all News International websites and is still in place today.
Unanimis chief marketing and development officer Nigel Gilbert commented, “The first calls we got were very much pre-emptive. It originally started with News of the World, which is not a well-traded site anyway, but it extended to anything related to News International. The Sun is the main website. The Times, because of the paywall, is a bit of a failsafe. It doesn’t have a lot of network inventory.”
Another added that advertisers and agencies were being extra cautious at the moment because of the “sensitivity” of the issue.
Another pointed out that while they felt there was anti News International sentiment, this was extending to newspapers and tabloids in general. Pulling of ’newspaper’ ads across networks was an “extra precautionary measure because of its third-party nature”.
According to reports, advertising industry bodies have said that News of the World’s “toxicity” may have tainted other News International brands, and could potentially impact The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times. Last week car brand Renault suspended advertising in all News International newspapers, while others are thought to be reviewing their ongoing relationships with News International while police investigations are ongoing.
Today thesun.co.uk still showed display ads from Emirates, LoveFilm, Streetcar, eFax, eREceptionist and a laser eye surgery brand, while earlier this week, The Sun relaunched its Dream Team Fantasy Football league under a new freemium model, sponsored by William Hill.
This morning News International said that while the controversy last week had impacted the firm, things had “dramatically” recovered and that it was working hard to address advertisers’ concerns.
A spokesman for News International also pointed out that while newsoftheworld.co.uk was in operation, it was part of NGN, which included thesun.co.uk. Now that newsoftheworld.co.uk had ceased to exist thesun.co.uk was a distinct website and brand. He added that there is no longer any network activity across The Times or The Sunday Times’ sites.
In the meantime, News International has confirmed that the former companion celebrity and showbiz title to News of the World, Fabulous, will be incorporated into The Sun on Saturdays.
The Fabulous website previously sat within Newsoftheworld.co.uk. Fabulous was launched in 2008, and has since attracted a valuable younger female readers into the newspaper category.
Rachel Richardson, editor of Fabulous Magazine, said in a statement, “It has been an extremely tough week for everyone here but we’re delighted that Fabulous Magazine will live on. We have a very loyal and engaged readership who have been sending us their messages of goodwill all week and we are really looking forward to welcoming them to our new home in The Saturday Sun.”
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is reported to be mooting selling off News International in its entirety. News Corp-owned the Wall Street Journal reports that this is among a range of strategic options to stem the fallout from the hacking scandal currently engulfing the company.
News Corp has withdrawn its bid for BSkyB.
Update: In a statement to new media age Paul Hayes, MD News International Commercial, said: “We appreciate that the closure of the News of the World has had an effect on our commercial partners, and we will continue to communicate and engage with them during this difficult time. News International is considering plans for the future, and remains sensitive to the needs of our advertisers.”