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The Big Issue’s first digital editor on using the web to push print

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The Big Issue may have just appointed its first digital editor but the magazine will remain resolutely print-first according to the man who’s taken the post.

Ben Sullivan, who was previously UK editor of Vice Media’s science and technology site Motherboard, is walking into an environment that is unique in the UK publishing landscape.

At a time when decades-old magazines such as NME are closing because they can’t make print pay, The Big Issue’s business model – indeed its entire reason for being – depends upon it.

Founded in 1991 to give the homeless a “hand up not a handout”, the weekly magazine is distributed by some of the poorest people in society who buy copies for £1.25 and sell them on the street for £2.50, keeping the profit.

This modus operandi presents an intriguing challenge for its new digital editor, who has been tasked with growing awareness of the brand online but needs to do so while ushering newfound visitors towards its primary and essential fundraising model – print.

“The Big Issue is first and foremost the magazine,” says Sullivan.

“We want to make the website a kind of 'The Big Issue Plus' destination. There’s a lot we can do to increase the awareness of the website and make BigIssue.com a destination for all sorts of people who are consuming news.”

In print, The Big Issue does not home in on audience demographics in the way that most magazines do, where readers are segmented according to gender, age and so on. Its sellers never know what type of person will be coming down the pavement to buy a copy, and therefore wide editorial appeal is required to put the most possible amount of pounds in their pockets.

The approach is working. While other print titles are seeing their circulations shrinking, the Big Issue’s is growing – up by a modest 1% to 83,073 in 2017 but up by 7% over the last three years, according to the ABCs.

Sullivan says the website has a similarly broad readership but thinks there is an opportunity to reach a younger audience who may not be accustomed to paying for media but do feel strongly about supporting causes that matter to them.

“We’re a trusted brand on the high street and we really want to cement our presence online to be able to support the organisation, and let people know why we exist and what we’re doing," said Sullivan..

“We have an opportunity now to reach a younger audience as well. They’ve grown up aware that The Big Issue’s on the street but because they’re digital-only, mobile-only, they perhaps might not buy the magazine. We’re looking to widen our audience completely and let everyone in."

He added: “Our end goal is dismantling poverty. Ultimately people do want to pay for that and people are happy to put their money behind a really great cause. I think that’s going to be successful in getting a younger audience to put their hand in the pocket.”

Sullivan is planning podcasts, video and mini-documentaries to lure those new audiences and complement the print product. “We talk to a lot of amazing people and we want to make those conversations available to a wider audience online, which will also raise awareness of The Big Issue magazine," he explained.

“[We’re planning] all sorts of multimedia. It will heavily involve our team of vendors and the people who are supporting the Big Issue, giving them the message of The Big Issue and reinforcing that we’re out on the street as well.”

And when it comes to measuring success, Sullivan says there’s one metric that matters above all. “Ultimately that’s measuring the awareness of The Big Issue brand in the UK. Anything we can do to help that is bang on.”

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The best campaigns of 2018 from The Drum Awards: early bird rates for 2019 available

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The Drum Awards is launching its call for entries for 2019. The first eight competitions are already open to enter and you can get an early bird discount if you submit before 19 December.

Award-winning work takes time and consideration — and the best-of-the-best from your agency, brand or company could be earning well-deserved accolades and trophies.

Here are eight examples of those who have wowed and amazed The Drum Awards judging panel of industry experts in 2018.

Campaign: The Launch of Samsung Quickdrive:

Agency: Taylor Herring Ltd

Client: Samsung

The Drum Marketing Awards

Last November, Taylor Herring and Samsung launched a through the line campaign which led the entire marketing strategy for a flagship product launch.

Domestic appliances can be difficult to promote, particularly white goods like washing machines. The creative was firmly rooted in earned media and featured original research, a disruptive TV spot, a feature film, one of Britain’s greatest composers and a very smart washing machine.

Results included worldwide media coverage, the first social trends in Samsung domestic appliance history, a +10 point increase in positive sentiment, millions of views and a 238% uplift in sales.

The Making Of – Washing Machine – The Feature Film from Taylor Herring on Vimeo.

Members of the judging panel said: “We were really excited by this entry; the fact that this was such a different approach to a very functional product made us all feel that this could shake up this this sector within the industry and prove there isn’t just one way to market washing machines. A game changer.”

Campaign: Non-Consensual Sharing of Intimate Images

Agency: Republic of Media

Client: The Scottish Government

The Drum Digital Advertising Awards Europe

The Scottish Government gave Republic of Media an almost impossible task: deliver awareness and understanding of a change in law on Revenge Porn – a crime that can be taken lightly, but has significant consequences for both victim and perpetrator.

On a small budget, the target audience was young men who were experts in avoiding online ads they don’t want to see and Republic of Media needed to cut-through and encourage engagement with a Government ‘lecture’ message.

The campaign served to inform of the severe penalties people will face for sharing intimate images or video of someone without their permission.

Judge and commercial innovation director, Clear Channel UK, Cadi Jones said that the team made a huge impact with this campaign, despite a limited budget. “I was particularly impressed by their partnership approach with media owners to get buy-in to bend the normal rules on ad content to help to deliver this important message to the right audience,” said Jones. “They delivered spectacular results within the target audience. This ticked all the boxes for great idea, great planning, great execution – and as judges we wanted to see it recognised accordingly.”

Campaign: Just Like Us

Agency: WWF-UK, All Mighty Pictures, Time Based Arts

Client: WWF

The Drum Design Awards

WWF's ‘JustLikeUs’ campaign aimed to raise public awareness of the critical plight facing Elephants, and gain financial support for the chairty's work.

This integrated campaign was different in creative tone and approach, designed to reach the widest audience at such a crucial time.

With around 55 African Elephants being killed every day, WWF felt compelled to give a voice to Elephants.

Head judge and founder of Brand Inspiration, Glenn Tutssel said: “The judges were moved to tears by this piece of work. It was very emotive. A simple public awareness campaign that tells the story in a most amazing way, that raised our emotions to the limit.

"I was extremely well executed and directed to gain maximum awareness. A brilliant piece of work.”

Campaign: Shelter #NotInvited

Agency: Kastner and Partners in London

Client: Shelter

The Drum Chip Shop Awards

Kastner and Partners in London came up with an idea for the homeless charity, Shelter. It was a response to Windsor Council’s unjust treatment of the town’s homeless population with the Royal Wedding on the horizon.

The Drum Chip Shop Awards are a little different to the usual shows. Here, you have complete creative freedom and your entries don't even need to be executed campaigns.

Chairman of the judging panel and creative partner at Now, Remco Graham said: "The whole jury was unanimous in our voting of this for a Grand Prix. We were also unanimous in wanting to see it run. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a good agency come up with this.

"What’s so great about the Chip Shop Awards is that you find nuggets of gold like this. Using creativity for good. For where it really matters. That’s why we awarded this piece of work the Grand Prix."

Campaign: Bedtime Stories and Exam Results

Agency: TBWA Manchester

Client: PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide

The Drum Roses Awards

TBWA Manchester not only won one Grand Prix, but two for their work with PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide.

Bedtime Stories was powerful online film launched on Safer Internet Day to raise awareness of young suicide and cyber bullying for PAPYRUS, a national charity for prevention of young suicide. It is part of on-going work around the shocking statistic that over 200 schoolchildren die by suicide every year in the UK.

The second campaign, Exam Question, highlighted how the stress and pressure of exams can lead young people to suicidal thoughts. Presented as exam questions, our messages around suicide each offered one simple answer – call PAPYRUS, a national charity for the prevention of young suicide.

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Judge Wayne Deakin, executive creative director, Huge said: "A lot of energy, clever thinking and a sense of addictive fun was in abundance from this years Grand Prix winner. I was surprised and engaged by the work. I don’t know if it’s right to use the term ‘Northern Powerhouse’ but that is what TBWA /Manchester was this year. Well done."

Campaign: Snaplications

Agency: VML

Client: McDonald's Australia

The Drum Mobile Awards

Snaplications is the instant job application that changed the face of recruitment for McDonald's – one of the biggest employers of young people in Australia. VML let young people seeking their first job apply with just personality, no resumes and no CVs required.

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Campaign: TicToc

Agency: Bloomberg

The Drum Online Media Awards

TicToc by Bloomberg was the first and only global news network built for Twitter. They provide 24/7 coverage of breaking news, live events and top and trending general news. They are powered by Bloomberg's 2,700 journalists and analysts in 120 countries so that they can deliver a fast and interactive editorial experience for the next generation of on-the-go news consumers.

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Judge and editor-in-chief, HuffPost UK, Polly Curtis said: "TicToc is a beautifully simple idea that allows Bloomberg to be at the heart of the conversation, in a distinctively Bloomberg way. The design shouts Bloomberg, which telling the audience it’s doing something different. The use of Twitter is novel and appropriate. Exciting to see that there is still innovation on platforms we think we all know."

Campaign: A Data Driven Marriage

Agency: Peak Ace

Client: Kartenmacherei

The Drum Search Awards Europe

Kartenmacherei is amongst the leading greeting card providers in Europe. Trusting Peak Ace to take care of their core market to strengthen this position and even extend reach, the agency had complete freedom to do what they believed works best.

The campaign is a well-executed marriage of tech and creative which helped to increase Kartenmacherei overall performance in just 12 months. The data-driven approach can be seen everywhere from research to strategy, execution and the results.

Peak Ace

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ZPG, director of paid performance media, Vincent Coyle, said: "Peak Ace used classic on-page SEO along with more creative approaches to performance content marketing to generate a great ROI for Kartenmacherei.

"A heavy use of data was used to determine the most effective landing pages and in turn on site conversion rate. It's a great example of a well rounded integrated campaign can make the most out of PR and SEO."

The Drum Awards is a global scheme that aims to identify the best practices, companies and people in our industry. It’s mission is to share that information with readers of The Drum – one of the worlds largest marketing platforms – to help them make better decisions.

Entries for the first half of 2019's awards are now open. If you have any questions, queries or need advice on your entry form, please contact one of our event managers.

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Australian competition watchdog cracks down on Facebook and Google

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Google and Facebook will face greater regulation in Australia following a report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

The preliminary report by the nation’s competition watchdog raised concerns about the market power of the two media and technology giants including the companies impact on Australian businesses, particularly, their ability to monetise content. It also outlined concerns about the extent that consumers data is collected and used by companies to target advertising.

To address these concerns the report proposes a number of recommendations including a “new or existing regulatory authority be given the task of investigating, monitoring and reporting on how large digital platforms rank and display advertisements and news content”.

The report also proposes preventing Google’s Chrome browser from being installed as a default browser on mobile, tablet and computer devices. It also includes recommendations to strengthen merger laws, deal with copyright, and take-down orders, and the review of existing, disparate media regulations.

The ACCC is also considering a further recommendation for a specific code of practice for digital platforms’ data collection to better inform consumers about how platforms collect and use their information as well as changes to the Privacy Act to enable consumers to make informed decisions.

Rod Sims, chair of ACCC, said, “Digital platforms have significantly transformed our lives, the way we communicate with each other and access news and information. We appreciate that many of these changes have been positive for consumers in relation to the way they access news and information and how they interact with each other and with businesses.

“But digital platforms are also unavoidable business partners for many Australian businesses. Google and Facebook perform a critical role in enabling businesses, including online news media businesses, to reach consumers. However, the operation of these platforms’ key algorithms, in determining the order in which content appears, is not at all clear.”

Sims continued, “Organisations like Google and Facebook are more than mere distributors or pure intermediaries in the supply of news in Australia; they increasingly perform similar functions as media businesses like selecting, curating and ranking content. Yet, digital platforms face less regulation than many media businesses.

“The ACCC considers that the strong market position of digital platforms like Google and Facebook justifies a greater level of regulatory oversight.

“Australian law does not prohibit a business from possessing significant market power or using its efficiencies or skills to ‘out compete’ its rivals. But when their dominant position is at risk of creating competitive or consumer harm, governments should stay ahead of the game and act to protect consumers and businesses through regulation.”

The ACCC is currently investing five incidences of breaches to competition or consumer laws by digital platforms as a result of this inquiry.

The ACCC will take submissions regarding its recommendations with the final report to be delivered to the Government by June 2019.

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AppNexus and Microsoft's eight-year partnership: the story so far

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In the eight years since AppNexus and Microsoft formed a partnership, the programmatic landscape has evolved dramatically. Starting from when the industry was in a hypergrowth phase to considered advertising’s Wild West, where concerns around low-quality inventory, transparency, and scale were pervasive.

Even though there have been many changes in the industry since then, with AppNexus now acquired by AT&T and being part Xandr, many of those earlier concerns are still relevant.

To future-proof itself against ad fraud, Microsoft became one of the first premium publishers to test the programmatic waters eight years ago, when it says it committed to stringent quality and brand safety standards, working with AppNexus to apply quality control and transparency policies.

AppNexus also developed an audit process that became the template for how Microsoft evaluated every advertiser on the Microsoft Advertising Exchange (MAX), in order to set high brand safety standards. In 2017, Microsoft became the first publisher to join AppNexus’ transparent auctions initiative, which is a visible communication that tells buyers what kind of auction they are entering as the bid request is sent.

By informing advertisers on whether they are participating in a first- or second-price auction and alerting them to the price floor, this innovation allowed buyers to better understand how their bid prices influenced their win-rate and clearing price.

After AppNexus enforced ads.txt and made a commitment to proactively audits its partners to ensure that it works with clients who share its commitment to quality standards, Microsoft was also quick to implement ads.txt on MSN and part of Windows and is in the process of rolling it out globally.

Today, Microsoft delivers more than 700 billion impressions annually in the AppNexus ecosystem, across display, video, and mobile channels. By focusing on the user experience and setting up their pages to render ads in-view, Microsoft’s publisher brands has a viewable inventory rate of over 85% according to AppNexus’ viewability analysis, which is well above the industry average.

Tae Kyu Kim, the senior regional director at AppNexus, tells The Drum as programmatic continues to become a standard way of media buying, the industry has finally caught up to the vision that Microsoft and AppNexus outlined from the start, which is quality at scale no matter what method you use to buy media.

“From a technology perspective, Microsoft and AppNexus partnered early on to improve viewability and increase quality and transparency. Over the last year or so, we have really seen our vision be validated and affirmed by a demand for these qualities and capabilities across the buying landscape,” he explains.

“From an integration perspective, the complexity of the ecosystem means a lot of development work to ensure integration. The key is identifying opportunities and integrations that optimize and bring efficiency to your programmatic strategy, rather than complicate it.”

Giving an example of how MAX has worked with clients over the years, Tae shares how an airline that wanted to generate click-through rates (CTR) to their website in Taiwan and chose to run an MSN Home Page Takeover (HPTO). The result was a 0.42% CTR.

For another advertiser that wanted full control of guaranteed impressions, even delivery, time targeting, MAX proposed a large format priority deal (PMP) on MSN. “The buyer experienced a significant average CTR of 0.98% with their deal for a custom header, which resulted in them increasing their budget to the campaign,” says Tae.

Increasingly, supply chain inefficiencies have become a big topic for brands who are concern about the money they are spending and wasting. Tae acknowledges this an unfortunate by-product of programmatic’s rising popularity is that it has made the entire ecosystem more complex.

He points out that removing supply chain inefficiencies is why Microsoft chose AppNexus as its exclusive SSP and why Microsoft is supportive of initiatives that built trust with buyers by giving them visibility into their spend on the AppNexus platform.

“It’s early days, but I’m pleased to say that as of September 2018, Microsoft finalized testing around transparent fees,” explains Tae. “All Microsoft app and display publishers transparently will expose fees to buyers that are using transparency partners (like Amino Payments) to track payments through the supply chain.”

Together with Microsoft, the road ahead for AppNexus will be driving the understanding of the critical importance of transparency, openness, and quality to the programmatic industry. While it continues to innovate its technology through new formats and offerings, it wants to simultaneously partner with Microsoft on initiatives that build trust in the marketplace and supply chain.

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