5 Answers with Tim Robinson

  • Lindsey Loving
  • 04.08.2016

Five Answers is a series that features someone studying or working in the news industry answering five questions. If you’d like to participate, email [email protected].

Tom Robinson is co-founder and CMO of Coda Ventures, a media research firm specializing in newspaper ad effectiveness tracking. NAA caught up with Robinson to ask about the advertising accountability challenges facing newspapers and to share insights from Coda’s syndicated Triad Newspaper Ad Effectiveness Service.TRobinson pic

Robinson is a speaker at the upcoming NAA mediaXchange 2016 conference, where he will be part of a panel on “The Value of Newspaper Preprints for Consumers and Advertisers” on Tuesday, April 19 from 2:00-2:45 pm.

What is your experience measuring newspaper ad effectiveness?

I began my career in publishing with Dow Jones & Company as the national market research director for The Wall Street Journal. I also served as SVP Marketing and Research at the trade association for consumer magazines, where I was responsible for targeted print ad effectiveness initiatives on behalf of the industry.

Last year, Coda Ventures launched the Triad Newspaper Ad Effectiveness Service, a syndicated tracking service that reports the effectiveness of issue-specific ads and preprinted circulars appearing in the country’s top newspapers on an ongoing basis (featured in the recent Newspaper Association of America report,”Newspaper Inserts Drive Consumers to Action“).

What is the biggest challenge facing newspaper advertising sellers?

In a word, accountability. There continues to be a growing demand from media buyers for ad effectiveness data that demonstrate the efficacy of newspaper campaigns across all platforms, including print, which is our primary focus.

But while the bottom line is top of mind, we also believe that it is important for newspaper sellers to broaden the discussion and help media buyers understand how print newspaper advertising is unique to other media. Our Triad data clearly demonstrate that in addition to making the cash register ring, traditional newspaper advertising motivates consumers to take a broad array of actions that have previously been unreported – from clipping ads to building brands to driving readers to an advertiser’s website or generating social media buzz.

What is the most exciting thing that you are working on?

Newspaper inserts and circulars. We initially launched the Triad Service reporting the effectiveness of ROP display ads, but quickly incorporated the measurement of newspaper inserts into the service based on market demand. In addition, we are working with some clients to evaluate the impact of other preprint distribution channels, including TMC and opt-in programs.

And the results have been impressive. Newspaper inserts consistently generate high recall, reader action and likability scores for advertisers across a wide variety of ad categories. It is exciting to provide newspapers with proof of performance for this unique advertising channel, and advertisers with insights about how newspaper inserts are contributing to their ROI.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned from measuring newspaper ad effectiveness?

It’s no surprise that our Triad data demonstrate how engaging newspaper advertising is and that it motivates readers to respond. It is interesting, however, to continually learn more about how newspaper advertising actually works.

The effectiveness of a newspaper campaign can be enhanced – and the actions that consumers take as a result of exposure to a specific ad can be driven – by tactical executions and creative use of the medium. For example, leveraging cover strip ads, multi-page units, sponsored content, or even different sections of the paper can have a dramatic impact on the overall effectiveness of a campaign.

How do you see the future of newspaper advertising?

Newspaper advertising will continue to evolve as publishers continue to leverage new digital channels to deliver their content, enhance their brands, and solidify their relationships with readers. Our objective is to help publishers maintain and grow their traditional print ad revenues and expand the Triad Service to measure digital newspaper platforms.


  • Lindsey Loving
Lindsey is the Communications Manager for the News Media Alliance. Prior to joining the Alliance, she led communications for a food and nutrition nonprofit in Washington, D.C. for over eight years.