21st October 2020

Local Media Matters Now More Than Ever

Local journalism has been on the decline for the last two decades. We have lost over 200 publications in the last decade. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, 50 publications have closed, and 2,100 journalists have lost their job. Meaning that local events are not being reported on, favouring national events over local ones. This decrease in local publications is creating an information vacuum in our society and communities. There isn’t one thing that has created this decline many factors have played a role in this.

Canadians want local news and it is important to them. Canadians look to local news for critical things in their daily life. 74% of Canadians look to local news for breaking news, 65% for the weather, 43% for government activities/crime, and political campaigns and elections. The cost of losing local media is high: lower voter turnout, increased government spending and taxes, and more local corruption. We become more reliant on gossip, and we have a hard time keeping the government accountable. Environmental issues and climate change are not covered, and polarization increases as we have journalists who only cover one side of the spectrum (left or right).

How has this decline happened?

Self- inflicted: the local news had a hard time pivoting to the internet. The news outlets didn’t join forces to share costs. With the love of print and the shift of audiences to digital, many organizations were unable to adjust. 

Media merges in Canada: Publications dissolved or disappeared with the merger. 

Social and algorithms: this Facebook and Google, they become the intermediary as to how we get our local news. 

Measurement: we have abandoned how we get our local news, this meant that we went for reach and not for measurement. 

Classifieds: that space went to Kijiji and craigslist, and that took a line share of the revenue from local news. 

Ghost and desert news: Ghosts newsrooms, a couple of people trying to cover 3 or 4 towns and not doing it very well as there is no staff.

Fractured audience: people are going to multiple places to consume their local news, news stories, Twitter, Facebook, they might go to print, talking to people on their street. 

Urban innovation: the majority of Canadians live in urban centers 45% when in actuality most Canadians live in rural, but the majority of media innovation has happened in urban centers (Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal). 

Fake news: the notion that journalism isn’t doing its job properly. 

Brand Safety: looking at the inclusion and exclusion list, is the brand doing a disservice to Canadians by the restrictions they have put on them. 

“The more something is covered locally, the more people understand and connect with the issue. And if you’re not covering a story, your community is not connecting” - Knia Singh Lawyer and Activist. 

Where do Canadians access news? 

  1.  51% says local TV news programs 
  2.  35% says Facebook 
  3. 24% say Google 

The value of local news is very clear. For the people, it increases civic engagement, public office accountability, inform debate, and exchanging ideas. Journalism is a public good because the information in the news stories informs wise decisions about important issues that can affect the quality of life.  For a brand the value of local news has many great benefits as it has increased dwell-time, trust, brand recall is better and community support. Local news is a quality environment and sits in the memories better than any other digital channel. Local news publications and websites are vital to our communities, but they cannot fund a redesign to create a creative look to meet our advertising, so we need to help bring them along.

What now 

Helping You Navigate The News 

News events often generate a quick reaction from brands who are afraid to see their ads adjacent to content related to breaking news stories. This was particularly true at the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic and in the early days of the Black Lives Matter protests. Canadians don’t see your brand as less for appearing in the news. We need to talk about inclusion and exclusion lists. These long lists of keyword blocking exist for advertisers to prevent their ads from appearing next to articles related to these topics. 

Content Adjacently 

News websites saw record-breaking traffic on their webpage. They had issues monetizing the content produced by their journalists because of the amount of content blocking in place. 36% of Canadians believe it is valuable to advertise next to COVID, but content blocking prevents that. We are solving for this GroupM recently started issuing agency recommendations around what type of keyword blocking to implement to ensure proper brand suitability for ads while still supporting news organization. 

Beyond Brand Safety Report Metrics 

Where brand safety firms reside, it is possible that reports from 3rd party brand safety companies still show a higher than normal percentage of ads against categories such as the crime of tragedy when monitoring news content. 63% of people respond more positivity to ads run on media channels they trust than the same ads run on social media or fakes news sites. We can put things in perspective and help clients navigate the results when running with reputable news organizations across Canada and support local news. 

What are we doing at Mindshare? 

- Local news PMP 

- Advocacy (ICA, Kantar and Canadian Marketing Association, Sarah is Co-Chair of the media council at the Canadian Marketing Association) 

- Consensus (Geo-Spatial & Local insights) to inform and measure results


Brands have a quality place to appease that connects with consumers better than any other digital channels. Canada continues to have civic engagement through quality journalism. Together, we will end the deserts. 

Watch the full webinar here. 

Consensus, How does it work?

Audience is more than their journey of generation - they are also about their home. Layered data from surveys, media, and third-party sources (Weather, traffic, POI) against postal codes/FSA to show a visual representation of the market. We know where you need to invest, with whom, and how much. To understand the nuances of local markets in one in one central location and not across multiple spreadsheets. We can use this data for offline media choices as well as geofencing in performance media. We know what local markets are changing and why. Talk to Sarah Thompson to get more information about consensus and how we can use it for your brand.

Mindshare Canada
    Mindshare Canada