The Financial Times is hoping to boost repeat advertising business with a new audience mapping tool that makes it easier for its advertisers to reach audiences across print, online and the FT app.

The tool calculates reach by platform, region, audience and frequency and incremental reach of each new channel. At the planning stage, it shows how often the target audience will see the ad. For instance, for a global monthly campaign targeting FT C-suite readers across web, print and FT app, the advertiser will show the audience the ad 3.2 times based on a certain number of impressions or print page ads.

Laura Milsted, the FT’s global advertising director at B2B & insight, said the service will be baked into the FT’s commercial offerings.

“Fundamentally, what agencies need to bring commercial propositions together in a multiplatform world, but we weren’t doing well enough,” she said. “We saw a need in the market which played to what we stand for: transparency around editorial and commercial.”

The tool was developed over the past 15 months by a team of about 10 people from the FT and consulting firm PwC. The FT’s monthly global reach is calculated based on Ipsos Mori data on its print audience and the FT’s online first-party data that’s assured by PwC. The FT’s reader survey data is used to provide de-duplicated data.

Milsted said the tool showed less audience crossover on FT platforms than expected. While print and digital audiences overlap, there’s an audience distinction across time and day.

The use of third parties gives the tool credibility and will encourage more global and pan-regional bookings, said Mark Holden, global strategy director at agency Starcom.

“Reach and frequency-based planning doesn’t sound groundbreaking, but you’d be surprised how many more digital campaigns are planned on the basis of impressions served than on guaranteed or managed reach and frequency, which means the actual reach and frequency can be unpredictable,” he said. “This will protect and cement bookings rather than bring new business in.”

While the tool takes out the heavy lifting, in theory, agencies already have access to a lot of audited third-party data. “I’d be reticent of using publisher tools,” said John Thomson, head of media at 360i Europe. “The onus is on the people buying advertising to demonstrate effectiveness to clients from a neutral perspective. ‘Moving X amount of money will give you this amount of reach’ is an argument that publishers have been using for a long time.”

The Financial Times was an early proponent of time-based sales, using time as a proxy for attention and trading display ads on a cost-per-hour basis. While this tool will help calculate audiences across platforms and plan campaigns based on reach, advertisers can still buy based on attention for campaigns where KPIs based on non-media metrics like propensity to purchase.

“Reach is still important,” said Milsted. “These are the core metrics for media planning and buying. I can’t see that we’d switch this off completely.”

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