Almost 150 of Newsquest‘s regional titles, including The Northern Echo, Dorset Echo, and Brighton’s The Argus, have launched mobile websites, designed to be read on phones.
The websites – which take the form mobile.thenorthernecho.co.uk, or mobile.dorsetecho.co.uk – are stripped-down versions of the papers’ normal sites, making them easier to load and read on the move.
Newsquest’s managing director for digital media, Roger Green, said the publisher was “incredibly optimistic” about its local media brands.
But, while digital revenues are growing – Northcliffe’s grew 42 per cent last year, to £17m, for example – they remain low in contrast to print revenues.
“I think publishers that regard themselves as successful in the regional area have made definite gains in the last few years in the amount of digital revenue they are generating,” Green told Press Gazette.
“I’m incredibly optimistic for the future of local media brands. Whether in print, mobile or online, they’re doing the job of being there for their customers and audience. Local media has a fantastic story to tell.”
He added: “There’s a certain degree of opinion that a great deal of people’s internet access will be from mobile. Certainly the mobile industry is [saying that].
“We will be where our audience is – it doesn’t matter when or if that point is reached, we’re there on print, mobile, and websites.
“How important mobile will be remains to be seen. But it doesn’t matter, as long as we’re able to interact with our audience in useful and valid ways.”
Green said Newsquest’s mobile websites could be rolled out without large investment, as they were based around the same online content management system already in place at the titles.
“Our site management system was designed to be able to do things like this,” he said. “It means we can roll out 148 websites with not much more effort than it would take to do one.”
Newsquest is also expanding its use of SMS text messaging, and said it had sent more than a million messages to readers last year. Text services include car valuation by texting the registration number, and football goal updates.