Times Online revamp is only the start, says editor

Times Media has revealed that Monday's £10 million relaunch of Times Online is the first step towards making better use of the vast archives of the Times and Sunday Times.

"What's come out this week is 0.1 — we've reached the starting line, not the finishing line," Times Online editor-in-chief Anne Spackman told Press Gazette.

"This is just the platform — through the coming year we have plans to expand our content enormously."

"Cool in Your Code", a new series of videos highlighting London neighbourhoods, will expand to cover regions outside the capital, said Spackman.

But new access to the Times titles' extensive archives will be a central aspect of the site's future development. A user interface that will allow readers to access archive material as far back as 1785 is in development, and is likely to feature graphical representations of archive content.

"That will be the biggest thing that people will see and I expect that it will have an enormous impact on our traffic," said Spackman.

A project to digitise the Times archive has already been completed, and digitisation of the Sunday Times is currently in progress, said Times digital media publisher Zach Leonard. He added that the archive will almost certainly include a paid element.

Each story on the relaunched site allows users to submit comments, a feature which has already seen heavy use.

Spackman said: "We were staggered by the amount of comment that we received. I thought it would take some time for people to start using the commenting features, but it only took a nanosecond."

The comments on the site are vetted by eModeration, a 24-hour out-sourced community moderation service, before being published on the site.

With the relaunch, Times Online has moved from the Vignette content management system to eScenic, partially to improve the integration of the Times titles' print and online production processes. The system is integrated with the Hermes print production system used by the newspapers using a tool called StoryPad.

New contextual advertising tools will allow better targeting of advertising across the site's specialist sections, and a Revenue Sciences behavioural targeting tool will allow advertisers to identify specific user groups by tracking individual users' movement through the site using cookies.

According to Leonard, Times Online can command premiums of up to 40 per cent using behavioural targeting.

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