Reuters relaunches UK website and eyes paywall

Reuters will tomorrow launch a revamped version of its UK website and has indicated that it is open to experimenting with charging consumers to access content online.

The UK-focused site will be the first of Reuters’ European consumer pages to be relaunched.

Tim Faircliff, head of consumer media for Reuters UK, told Press Gazette the new version of the site would be ‘clearer, fresher,’and would refocus along similar lines to Reuters.com.

The US-focused site relaunched in December after the news and information giant contracted New York web designers Huge to revamp its online consumer offering early last year.

By autumn all 17 of its international sites will have undergone a similar refocus.

Faircliff said the new site would shift from being solely a general news site to one aiming to engage an affluent business audience.

The new pages will have a heavier emphasis on multimedia and will also see the news giant focus on new content areas – such as legal, tax and accounting – opened up since Reuters merger with Canadian information firm Thomson two years ago.

Unlike many of the services provided by Reuters, which are sold as business services to niche groups, its consumer sites rely on an ad-supported model to provide web users with content for free.

‘One of the changes from the previous site is that we are making a big play around topics. That could be an event of a day, a theme of a month, but it would not be a consistent navigationally-led area of the site,’Faircliff said.

‘An example might be focus on taxation rules for small businesses. That would become a topic so you could then we could to go a taxation software manufacturer might want to sponsor that area for a period of time.

‘The flexibility on topics is for both users and, importantly for an ad-supported model, for the advertisers to be able to offer them flexible opportunities that were previously not there.”

Faircliff said there was merit for Reuters to target large general audiences and also offer content which could be targeted, for loyal, returning and engaged readers.

‘We are in a good position to go for both types. It’s always good to be big and its good to be niche, it depends what you are trying to do,’he added.

Faircliff said 95 per cent of revenue from Reuters’ consumer sites currently come from advertising but that charging for content was ‘in the DNA’of Reuters and the company would look at opportunities to charge for content as the consumer sites were expanded.

Faircliff said the launch of Reuters new consumer websites would see the continuance of the ad-supported model but the business ‘recognised that there are other business models out there and we are in a good position to experiment with those models”.

He added: ‘At a point in future, it could be two or three weeks it could be two or three years, who knows, we would look at seeing whether we can experiment with other business models…

‘The business models are there. We are experimenting but we are comfortable with the opportunities that we have with our content and to extract value for it.”

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