Regional newspaper groups are hailing last week’s ABCe figures for newspaper companion websites as a positive sign for the industry amid the gloom of declining print sales.
While average daily circulation in the first half of 2011 was down year-on-year for all but three daily titles – two of them in Norfolk – the ABCe figures for regional websites showed a different picture.
They showed that Trinity Mirror’s network of regional sites increased its average number of daily unique users by 53pc compared to the same period in 2010 while Newsquest sites lancashiretelegraph.co.uk and swindonadvertiser.co.uk each posted increases of more than 40pc.
Editorial bosses at both companies have highlighted improved content as a key factor behind the increases.
Trinity Mirror’s regional editorial director Neil Benson said: “Over the past year, our newsrooms have produced more unique content for our web sites, playing to our strengths of local news, local information and football.
“We’ve been working hard on strengthening the engagement with our audience, through smarter use of social media and tools such as live blogs.
“The other key element driving our growth is a more refined approach to video.
“We now focus on a higher volume of short, sharp news videos alongside the production of regular, studio-style shows – principally around football – that are helping us to attract a bigger, more loyal online following.”
Newsquest’s managing director of digital media Roger Green added: “The increase reflects the success of our group’s efforts in creating compelling content while making it easier than ever to find, as well as to share and to talk about through social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.”
Roger said Newsquest content and functionality is increasingly being accessed on a range of devices.
He said: “Although the PC is the principal platform for consumption and interaction with our media brands, there has been a notable increase in the use of smart phone and tablet devices.”
The number of visitors accessing the Newsquest network of websites using smart phones and tablets grew by more than 236pc in the six months ending June 2011 compared to the same six-month period in 2010.
Jan Pitt, the ABC’s group executive director of client services said: “The regional newspaper groups continue to see healthy year-on-year and period-on-period increases for their online activity.
“The year-on-year audited figures show that regional newspaper online networks grew their daily average unique browsers by 25.2pc. This is a great showcase for their importance as a source of local news and information in their communities.”