Assessing the obligation of the press to defend veracity, safety, and originality

April 06, 2023 | 15:19
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In the current rapidly changing media landscape, the shift from verified to unregulated digital media platforms is becoming more prevalent. Le Quoc Vinh, chairman of Le Bros, and vice chairman of the Vietnam Chief Sales & Marketing Officers Organisation, spoke with VIR’s Luu Huong on barriers for traditional news outlets, and verified channels to keep up with emerging trends.

What are the major challenges for verified mainstream news/information channels to attract branded ads?

Assessing the obligation of the press to defend veracity, safety, and originality
Le Quoc Vinh, chairman of Le Bros

Advertisers need two crucial criteria – a number of readers visiting pages to raise brand recognition, and the right quality of audience for the right brand ads. With marketing automation technology, a process that handles routine marketing tasks without the need for human action to attract a huge audience, firms with similar target demographic will be suggested to bid for the public display.

Unlike other forms of display advertising that businesses must purchase directly from newspapers, this automated advertising does not discriminate between verified and unverified advertising channels without a filter.

Consequently, potential customers will be exposed to ads from harmful, illegal, and unreliable sources unless the advertiser actively chooses to avoid them.

In reality, it is difficult for major, sustained businesses to promote their image via illegal or malevolent media outlets. Verified press agencies and government-run media outlets must attract the audiences desired by these brands.

The proliferation of different media outlets disperses the target demographic. Many individuals regularly consume materials via unauthorised channels, regardless of how sketchy or dangerous it may be. This is why people are losing interest in reading newspapers and traditional news outlets.

However, well-known brands also set extreme requirements for engaged consumers. They are prepared to spend more money for the privilege of advertising in reputable outlets. Mainstream newspapers and media outlets need to improve their content strategies to compete for high-quality readers.

The press has an obligation to defend the veracity, safety, and originality of its reporting against the kind of media that pursues readership at any cost, even if that means spreading nasty, unsubstantiated information or outright false news.

The continued popularity of corporate advertising on so-called unverified websites begs the question of why. How can we help customers choose more a more ethical media outlet?

Not every brand advertises on unauthorised sites. It is a truth that only small businesses lack a competent brand management apparatus or are unaware of the degree of the brand’s negative impact when it appears in impropriate places. These brands and enterprises are at the mercy of algorithms that govern the advertising markets.

In certain instances, unauthorised media channels sidestep the law, avoid advertising firms, and deceive them into believing they are legal media channels. If these channels publish harmful information that damages the company’s reputation, the brand will cease advertising.

To sum up, only businesses unaware of the detrimental effect of advertising on malicious channels are still advertising via these channels.

Could you explain how the ratio of income to profit from advertising on official versus unauthorised channels differs?

There is still no formal data compiled from ads on unauthorised channels. As these sites are deemed unconventional, Vietnamese authorities do not recognise them, do not know where they are, thus have no way of collecting taxes or keeping track of their earnings.

The fact that many such channels are hosted outside of Vietnam further adds to the difficulty of policing them. Additionally, many sites also leverage cross-border platforms such as Facebook and YouTube, which is a hard nut to crack.

In numerous instances, businesses don’t have access to this particular expense, since they pay for advertising via ad networks rather than on a channel-by-channel basis. Only by examining the ad networks can the entire income distribution for each channel be determined

For major media outlets, such as newspapers, the cost of content development is costly, resulting in a low profit margin or even a loss. As for unregulated media outlets, they often spend very little on content, and they often steal the work of others or create information, thus their profit margin may be much bigger.

What are your recommendations on policies that must be enacted so that mainstream platforms can attract more brands?

Policymakers should work to make the press and mainstream media more competitive.

One of these significant initiatives is to monitor, shut down, and outlaw unauthorised media outlets, while also taxing them heavily if they avoid paying their fair share. That’s the case with the Vietnamese media outlets owned by local private enterprises and individuals. For international channels, it’s more challenging, requiring coordination and supervision with cross-border platforms and social networks and sometimes even blocking access via technical operations.

I am aware that our resources are relatively limited, particularly our direct management and intervention workforce. Regulatory bodies almost always base decisions on complaints, or the user reports.

However, the only way to compete is to deliberately create more compelling materials that are reliable, impartial, and independent. The only way to get advertisers and corporations interested in the press again is to get people to read it.

What could future marketing trends in Vietnam involve, and how can traditional news outlets keep up?

Segmentation, or making a more targeted influence on certain groups of customers, is a popular technique in modern marketing. Having a large following isn’t always a good thing, but knowing your audience inside and out can help you target them more effectively. Therefore, the press must pick certain client categories deliberately by concentrating on key values and content trends. This will assist brands in locating their target customers.

Multidimensional, or 2-way communication, is another emerging pattern. There has to be more room for 2-way communication between the newspapers and their readers on their platforms for the journalism ecosystem to thrive. Readers will be retained, and new customer databases will be created.

Advertising with content is favoured by most brands. Cooperation between brands with newspapers and other major media outlets may result in material containing the brands of its consumers, known as branded content. The traditional ads will give way to this content as time goes on.

Diversifying marketing strategies by making use of Big Data and artificial intelligence

By Luu Huong

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