Trinity Mirror‘s newspapers in northeast England generate more than a million pounds revenue each year through their digital operations, Teesside Evening Gazette editor Darren Thwaites claimed today.
Thwaites said Trinity Mirror made a profit from its digital operations in his region with ad revenue generated through display and classifieds.
‘We get an average of ten pages per user on Gazette Live, we have got an engaged audience there and it’s an audience we can monetise,’he told the Society of Editors conference today in Glasgow.
Speaking to Press Gazette later Thwaites said he could not go into specifics figures for his region but said that across Trinity Mirror regionals digital revenues for the six months to June totalled £16m with profits of £5.2m.
Thwaites made his comments after Derek Tucker, the outgoing editor of Aberdeen’s Press and Journal newspaper, said he believed a focus on web traffic has not brought significant online revenues to regional papers and had instead contributed to the erosion of print sales.
Thwaites said one of the bigger challenges to maintaining print circulation figures was the closure of newsagents and the loss of guaranteed six-day delivery of newspapers.
‘I think these are a bigger challenge to newspaper sales than online migration,’he said.
‘We always talk about news and the migration of news content online but of course the content value of the key classified sections has already gone online and we can’t turn that back.”
Thwaites said Gazette Live now drew more than a quarter of a million unique users each month and that there were more than 1,000 direct interactions – such as comments and blog links – with the site each day from its readers.
According to the most recent figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, The Evening Gazette had a daily average sale of 42,246 in the first half of the year – a year-on-year drop of 7.4 per cent – while online an average of 16,599 readers visited its Gazette Live site each day in that period, a year on year increase of 7.1 per cent.
Thwaites said the economic downturn had a big affect on the circulation and advertising revenue of the Gazette and its associated papers but despite this setback they remained profitable businesses.
‘It’s important to know that the economic downturn has had a much bigger impact on us in the short-term than the structural change,’he said.
‘If we were facing these challenges just on structural change that would be really concerning but the reality is that we are being hit more by the economic downturn as are lost of other business.
‘As the economy comes backs online will still be strong.”
Thwaites said it was impossible to know what percentage of ad revenue would return after the downturn.
‘The structural impact is small compared to the impact of the recession but the challenge for us is how much the downturn will have accelerated the structural change and I guess we won’t know that for around another 18 months,’he added.