Scotsman owner launches first digital-led title

Johnston Press, owners of The Scotsman, this week launched its first digital-led title, targeting millennial readers in the city of Belfast, reports

BelfastVibe will offer trending news, entertainment and lifestyle stories on topics such as fashion, travel and technology, designed to appeal to the 18 to 34-year-old audience.

“None of our current products really cater for that younger, emerging millennial market,” explained Warren Butcher, managing director of the new site.

Experimenting with standalone, sub-branded sites is one way regional legacy media companies are attempting to target different needs and younger demographics in order to ensure their relevancy and sustainability, writes Abigail Edge.

Edge added: “Butcher is optimistic about the success of BelfastVibe. The site will ‘talk directly’ to younger audiences, he explained, unbridled by any of Johnston Press’s other brands”.

Earlier this week, Johnston Press posted another loss for the year, but saw its underlying operations improve. The company reduced its pre-tax loss from £291.4 million to £23.9m and cut its debt from £302m to £184.6m.

Group revenue continued to slide, down a further 7.3% from £290m to £268.8m, although total underlying revenue of £265.9m declined 4.4% for the period, reducing the rate of decline from 5.2% in 2013 and 7.4% in 2012.

Total advertising revenue was down 4.7% to £165.7m, print advertising declined 8.7% to £136.9m while digital revenues were up 20%.

The employment category led the way with revenue growth of 3.4%, becoming the first to reach the overall digital tipping point.  Newspaper sales revenue was down 4.8% from £81.8m to £77.9m.