This week’s launch of BrandVue’s Most Loved Media Brands report had received more attention than ever, thanks to a mention by GB News that seems to have caused quite the stir.
With that being the case, we feel it would be remiss of us not to explore the story in a little more detail – what can we learn from its ranking amongst news-brands and can any of it be leveraged or is it simply a consequence of capturing a niche?
Let’s start by reiterating our methodology: BrandVue is a large, nationally representative sample of the UK population. Once we establish which brands respondents are aware of, we ask their opinion of those brands. This is where we get our Brand Love score from, and in doing so we reduce the impact of the size of the brand by focusing on those that know the brands.
When Nigel Farage was discussing the BrandVue Media Report on GB News, he quite rightly pointed out that only half the population are aware of GB News. According to our data, 51% of the population are aware of GB News, while both The Sun (94%) and The Guardian (91%) have much higher levels of awareness.
You can only love a brand if you are aware of it, so while Brand Love for GB News might be higher as a percentage than its competitors, it is operating from a much lower base, whereas the Brand Love for both the Guardian and The Sun is based on a much larger proportion of the population who are aware of the brands.
Demographically, GB News performs particularly well amongst the 50+ age group, where they over-index versus the overall media landscape. Geographically, the brand is broadly less loved than the average media brand, but the North is much closer to the average than any other region.
They are, however, divisive. While our Brand Love index looks specifically at the ‘love’ metric, and that metric is how we determine our rankings, it doesn’t tell the whole story.
GB News also scores highly when it comes to those that say they ‘hate’ the brand, and very few respondents sit on the fence compared to other news organisations. Much like a famous yeast-based toast spread, the public tend to either love or hate GB News.
So, other than being a niche and ‘pointed’ outlet, what else are they doing that might be of interest to other brands?
To start, they are the only one of our News Brands group that are TV-first rather than a print publication, and this use of multimedia undoubtedly helps the audience engage with the content and distribution through other channels.
If we were to compare GB News to some of the other TV networks in the terrestrial and digital world, there’s some ground to make up: in the full Top 100, BBC, ITV, Sky and Channel 4 rank significantly higher than GB News, but are categorised as ‘Television’ in BrandVue, rather than ‘News’, due to their output being far broader.
This categorisation is arbitrary, and always up for review, but considering GB News’ standing as a rolling news channel – and even that definition is hotly debated – it feels unfair to categorise them along with Sky, whose broadband package could influence their Brand Love as much as their news output, while Coronation Street, or Ant and Dec, will have more impact on ITV’s score than ITV News.
Comparing Brand Image for one of the other top News brands, The Guardian, against GB News, we can see that while The Guardian is highly rated for being Trusted, Reliable, Classic and Ethical, GB News is more strongly associated with being Friendly, Exciting, Innovative, On-trend and Fun.
GB News’ ranking as Britain’s most moved news brand in our report ultimately speaks to the sense that, while controversial, GB News is better loved among its consumers than its competitors.
Part of this is down to how the channel has positioned itself; an upstart channel that, rightly or wrongly, taps into a certain demographic’s belief that mainstream media cannot be trusted and GB News instead presents a refreshing antidote to the reporting of the big-hitters. This distrust of mainstream media from some proportions of society, that tends to find its home at both ends of the political spectrum, rather than just the one GB News tends to lean, has risen steadily through an increasingly fragmented political landscape, and has allowed GB News to flourish among its target audience.
Among competitors, particularly those featured here, it’s unlikely that the Guardian or even The Sun would necessarily wish to replicate what GB News has done in order to increase its Brand Love.
Awareness, at the top of the brand funnel, will be more important to many publications and news broadcasters than it is to GB News, and similarly many will simply wish to be less controversial and disruptive than GB News openly set out to be.
But perhaps there is a lesson to be taken among brands more generally, in that defining your output to closely match the interests and expectations of your audience – however niche – is more important than ever. That, ultimately, is something GB News does better than most.