Sorrell on newspaper digital ad slowdown: ‘paywalls are the way to go’

Sir Martin Sorrell has said that the slowdown in digital newspaper advertising growth is proof that publishers should have paywalls.Speaking at the Society of Editors conference, the WPP chief executive said that a range of factors are contributing to clients reassessing the efficacy of digital ad spend levels, which will make it difficult for publishers solely relying on digital advertising income.

“I personally believe that paywalls are the way to go,” said Sorrell. “If you have content that has value consumers will pay for it. You have to get your mind around the fact that digital [advertising] is going to be less profitable. If that [economic reality] is what you are moving into you’ve got to make cost adjustments. [And] be much more free thinking and flexible about how to make revenue.”

“Data in Canada, Australia, the UK, the US and elsewhere shows it is not just a question about time spent, it is also about engagement,” he said. “Data from many sources shows that when people engage with newspapers in a traditional form, digital too, the quality of the time they spend is much higher than we first thought.”

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