Trinity Mirror today launched a stand-alone seven-day website for the Sunday People which is entirely funded by ‘native advertising’.
This means that the site will carry no display advertising but has instead signed up a number of commercial partners whose products are promoted within the editorial content.
The site is the brainchild of Trinity Mirror's director of Sunday brands Sue Douglas. She previously led a consortium which had sought to buy The People and revamp it in the spirit of the now defunct News of the World.
Douglas declined to be drawn on exact editorial numbers but said the site will start off with three daily shifts of six people working seven days a week.
Sunday brands digital director Joely Carey is heading up the site and other key members of staff include Charlie Courtauld, former editor of Frost Over the World for Al Jazeera, and former night editor of the News of the World Harry Scott.
Like Mail Online, People.co.uk has its own separate editorial team and different ethos from the paper. Douglas said it will cherry pick stories from the print edition but will use them in a very different way.
Last week Douglas talked Press Gazette through a beta version of the site and highlighted a story headlined: "Uh oh, stripper boots are IN!" to illustrate how the commercial side works.
While the decision to cover "stripper boots" was a purely editorial one, she said, the story concluded with the statement: "We love these high-street buys…" followed by photos of three pairs of boots accompanied by links to buy the products. The idea was, Douglas said, that these would promote goods provided by the site's commercial partners.
In the version of the site seen by Press Gazette there was nothing to flag up the commercial nature of the promoted section of the story.
Asked for further clarification on this, Douglas said: "This is a ‘working draft’ of the sort of relationship we would have. And it is a beta site where we are trying all sorts of things we may not launch with….
“We would charge an overall fixed fee for ‘positioning’ a client's business priorities (eg a Revlon orange, rather than another colour, lipstick).
“The client gets us to contextualise their product/service within content we are putting up on the site anyway.”
The site carries no display advertising and is based purely on the ‘native advertising’ model.
Douglas said today’s launch means The People is the only seven-day digital, one-day print national newspaper proposition.
The unusual website design renders as a grid four tiles wide on desktops and tablet computers and one tile wide on mobile. Whereas the Trinity Mirror national websites are on the E-Scenic content system, People.co.uk is built on the free WordPress blogging platform.
Features include Newscrunch, a tile which updates several times a day providing a briefing on the stories that readers “really need to know” as Douglas puts it. And Geek crunch, a daily facts and figures feature.
Douglas said: “The rest of it is news without the boring bits" describing the job of the journalists to "condense and curate within the zeitgeist".
She said it is like Buzzfeed, but “it’s a news brand and Buzzfeed is not a news brand”.
At launch People.co.uk is planning to publish at least 20 ‘tiles’ a day and Douglas has ambitions to hit one million unique users a month early next year.
Asked when they hope to break even on the project, she said: "will wash its face very quickly because of the commercial relationships we've got".