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May 6, 2021updated 07 Nov 2023 5:46am

Digital advertising overtakes print for the first time at Mirror publisher Reach

By Charlotte Tobitt

Digital advertising revenue has overtaken print for the first time at Reach.

Chief executive Jim Mullen (pictured) revealed the landmark in the publisher’s four-month trading update on Thursday.

Digital revenues at the publisher were up 35% year-on-year between 8 December and 25 April.

Mullen said: “We have had a positive start to the year and are seeing the benefits of last year’s transformation programme.

“With digital now accounting for more of our advertising revenues than print and growing strongly, we are well placed to make further progress during 2021.”

Asked for more information by Press Gazette, a Reach spokesperson said the shift to majority digital advertising revenue had happened in the past six months.

“Although 2020 was an unusual year, we have also compared with 2019 figures and we are now confident that this is a strong and lasting trend,” they said.

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Reach’s digital revenue was up 25.2% across the first quarter of 2021 and 78.4% in April alone. It has grown by 41.3% compared to the same period in 2019.

By contrast, print revenue was down 10.4% year-on-year and down by a quarter (24.3%) compared with two years ago.

It did grow by 9.1% in April compared to last year, when the first lockdown had a major impact on print advertising and circulation (as well as digital advertising yields, despite record readerships).

The company said both digital and print revenues were performing slightly better than expectations.

[Read more: Traffic to UK local news websites surged in 2020 – but digital revenue plummeted]

Some of the digital growth has been put down to “good early progress” in commercialising Reach’s new data-driven targeted advertising products, for which residential property portal OnTheMarket signed the first deal last month.

Reach said a high level of interest from brands was building a “strong pipeline” for the second half of the year.

In addition, Reach’s customer value strategy, launched in February 2020, has seen it reach 6.2m registered users in about 14 months.

It has grown by 7% since the start of March when the company reported it was on 5.8m registrations and Reach said it remains “well on track” for its target of 10m by the end of 2022.

Overall group revenue for the four-month period was down 3.1% year-on-year and down 15.5% compared with two years before.

Reach said a combination of the growing mix of digital revenues plus efficiencies created in its transformation programme last summer, which saw more than 500 jobs cut and silos and duplication between the national and regional businesses removed, meant it was expecting operating profit for 2021 to be slightly ahead of market expectations at £137.1m.

Mullen said: “We have a strong balance sheet and are now increasing investment to accelerate delivery of the customer value strategy, focusing on the use of enhanced customer insight to drive engagement and support our medium-term objective of doubling digital revenues.”

Digital advertising revenues at the Financial Times similarly overtook print advertising in the last quarter of 2020.

Picture: Reach

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