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BW Businessworld

When Martin Sorrell Put Piers Morgan On The Hot Seat

Morgan's advice ranged from not undermining Donald Trump or the dislike that some Americans feels towards Hillary Clinton to not betting on which way the UK Elections will go

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Some of the best conversations in Cannes happen outside the Palais. A good example on the second day of the Festival was an interview where Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO, WPP, switched sides with former CNN talkshow host Pier Morgan, at present the US Editor-at-Large for Mail Online, in an interview that discussed all from the upcoming UK & US Elections to native advertising and what will make online media work in marketing.

Morgan's advice ranged from not undermining Donald Trump or the dislike that some Americans feels towards Hillary Clinton to not betting on which way the UK Elections will go. He also spoke about working with media owners and the independence that was given to editors in large publications. "Rupert (Murdoch) never told me what to publish or not. He would call me afterwards but that is very different," Morgan stated, but was also quick to add that in the newer forms of media, it was important, and possible, for advertising and editorial to work together.

"It is a two-way street. And much has changed today too. The teams today do a great job in native advertising. As long as there is clarity to the readers what they are getting, it is alright. The relationship between content and advertising has changed," Morgan said. He drew example to a time when a newspaper would change its paper colour or undertake similar alterations to support an advertising initiative. Most of these "innovations" did not resonate with readers, and were never seen successful enough to be repeated. The definition of innovation itself has changed with times.

Both leaders discussed in depth the future of online news media and what will allow the newer forms of distribution to monetise their offer. A point of difference came in on whether online media should have ever allowed freely available content. Morgan argued that Mail Online changed the dynamics of The Sun that had to takedown its pay wall to stay ahead in readership. Sorrell argued however that if a company starts at the bottom, it cannot raise the price. "If you start from the top, you can bring it down. If all media houses were to decide in the beginning that they would charge for their content, it may have had been a different story," remarked Sorrell.

Morgan reiterated that content remains king, irrespective of the medium but people still do not understand the power of the online medium and how different age groups are changing the ways in which they consume content. The leaders agreed that solutions would come through when people better understood the role that online news media was playing for decision makers.