Evolving Digital Advertising to Support Quality Media
United for News will undertake an intervention in the digital advertising space that will direct more advertising revenue to reputable media while equipping media in markets around the world with the skills necessary to effectively capture these revenue streams.
Media around the world is crippled by the transition to digital environments. People are losing the news and information they need to make good choices for their families, to participate in their communities and hold their governments to account. Most at risk, in every country, is local and community media, the connective tissue of healthy media environments. As media struggles, bad actors and information have rushed to fill the gap. There is a global proliferation of misinformation, disinformation, propaganda and hate speech. Trust in media and other institutions is plummeting. This is a shared, global crisis that will only grow in magnitude as the next 3 billion people come online.
There are two main challenges facing media. First, while the flow of digital advertising revenue is steadily increasing, little if any is making its way to media organizations. Google and Facebook consume 61% of all global digital advertising (a $237B market) and 90% of all new growth. Second, the vast majority of media organizations do not have the skills or technical knowledge to participate in these fast-moving markets, dominated by increasingly consolidated digital platforms.
The Initiative: Generating Sustainable Revenue for Media
United for News is addressing both of these challenges through a socially responsible digital advertising program with two elements. First is a system that channels a greater share of ad revenue directly to trusted media. Our system, based on the United for News index and publisher network, supports media sustainability while enabling brands to use their ad dollars to support robust democracies and healthy societies. Second is a program to on-board trusted media into the digital advertising markets, enabling them to participate effectively in the advertising ecosystem that will dominate this century.
Demand for this program is substantial and urgent. Brands are seeking safe alternatives within automated digital advertising systems, which are currently plagued with fraud, lack of transparency and reputational risk. Media, eager to tap digital revenue streams, is incentivized to undertake the work of accessing these systems. The time is now to implement a sustained effort to build more inclusive and socially responsible digital advertising systems.
Our approach is sustainable. While philanthropic funds are needed to bootstrap the program to tap into the global digital advertising market ($237B), the United for News system will ultimately generate revenue to support growth and scaling to additional markets as demand emerges. This revenue will be re-invested in expanding to additional, under-served markets, with a focus on on-boarding new media into those markets.
A multi-stakeholder coalition delivers unique value. United for News member companies and organizations bring deep knowledge of the media and advertising industry. Together we will stand up a turnkey system that many brands can access, delivering on our social goals while meeting the business needs of key stakeholders in the system. Our deep experience on the ground will enable us to curate a custom index that respects local culture, builds trust and has significant first mover advantage. Our status as a non-profit coalition ensures that all revenue will be directed to furthering our mission.
Jennifer Cobb explains the United for News Sustainability initiative at the Global Philanthropy Forum 2018
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