Northcliffe creates standalone digital division

Regional publisher Northcliffe Media is to create a new division of the company focused on running its digital platforms.

Northcliffe Digital will consist of a specialist team of ‘digital publishers’ aimed with improving the commercial and editorial offerings across the company’s 200 ‘Thisis’ newspaper companion websites.

Mike Rowley, currently digital director, will become managing director of Northcliffe Digital when it becomes a stand-alone business unit.

Robert Hardie, currently content strategy director, will become publishing director of the new business. Russell Scott has also been appointed as digital commercial director to drive revenue creation.

The new business will work in partnership with AN Digital which manages all the non-news websites owned by parent company, Daily Mail & General Trust.

Despite becoming a separate business, Rowley told Press Gazette Northcliffe Digital needed to have a close relationship with the printed titles as it looked to create additional digital revenue through new services such as increased contextual advertising and ecommerce when it launches in the “next couple of months”.

Rowley said: “We have seen significant growth [across the network] in the last two or three years. Our audience regularly tops four million users a month…

“Local news and sport is critically important but our intention has always been for the Thisis sites to be local information sites.”

Northcliffe Digital, he added, would look to develop new content, user interactivity and revenue streams from these existing websites with 15 new digital publishers focusing on the 21 key sites that deliver the overwhelming majority of the publisher’s traffic.

New site templates will also be launched in the coming weeks.

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