With new campaign, the Financial Times is maintaining its Facebook advertising boycott

The Financial Times is a few weeks into a major new campaign designed to get people to subscribe, but none of that money is going toward Facebook, at least in the U.S.

The new campaign, called “Don’t decide until you subscribe,” is spending more on digital out-of-home advertising, LinkedIn and Twitter and audio advertising and podcasts. Unlike a lot of the eye-catching stunts that the brand has deployed in the past, this campaign targets people who already have some familiarity with the publication and are likely to subscribe. It’s aiming at a number of personality types it developed through user research, which include types such as “professional readers,” who are people who need the FT for professional reasons, “objective deep dives,” or “opinionated newshounds.”

The Financial Times was among publishers that in May said it cut off ad spending on Facebook in response to the platform’s decision to include publishers’ promoted posts in an archive of political and issue-related ads. Seven publisher associations opposed the policy, saying it threatened to blur the line between journalism and political advocacy. Twitter has a similar policy that it exempted publishers from, giving it an opportunity to win publisher promotion dollars that might have otherwise gone to Facebook. The Facebook policy initially applied to ads in the U.S. (The FT is still advertising on Facebook outside the U.S.)  

Facebook had become an essential subscription driver for publishers from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune to Investopedia.

“For many who are now focused on transitioning and diversifying their revenue model to be more consumer-centric, the media company itself has become a significant internal Facebook customer,” said Jed Williams, chief innovation officer at the Local Media Association.

In addition to social networks outside of Facebook, the FT has for the first time begun advertising on podcasts, both host-read ads as well as dynamically inserted pre-existing creative it’s distributing through Acast and Pandora. The FT wouldn’t say how much it’s spending overall on the campaign or how much of its past spending went toward Facebook.

Some of the revenue has gone toward pure awareness in major cities such as London and Singapore. That comes in the form of its largest-ever spend on digital out-of-home advertising, including on digital billboards in London’s Canary Wharf station and in Singapore. Previously, the FT would target entire countries.

“We’re very aware of where our audience is, and that’s where we go,” said Fiona Spooner, the FT’s global marketing director for B2C.

Digital subscriptions are crucial for the FT. It claims a subscriber base of over 930,000, and three-quarters of those customers have digital subscriptions, which start at $6.45 per week.


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