New Mail Online Boss Aims To Improve Local Ad Proposition

Richard Titus, the Californian co-founder of Schematic who recently ran mobile and interactive music at the BBC, has made some of his first public comments since becoming Associated Northcliffe Digital CEO in April.

“Most people think of our business as a newspaper business,” he told Mobile Entertainment Market ’09 on Wednesday. “The message I’ve been giving them is, we make content – actually it doesn’t matter what platform we distribute it on. These things are not as locked together as they used to be.”

Having switched to a sector where some publishers are bemoaning ad revenue lost to Google (NSDQ: GOOG), Titus’ sights seem to be trained on playing to AND’s ad strengths, especially through Northcliffe’s local papers: “We own a tonne of local and regional publishers. Eighty percent of all ad media dollars are from that market and they’re not in that world today. One of my big focuses is figuring out how to make mobile and digital on all platforms valuable to small and medium enterprises and to unlock those dollars to create game-changing revenues to enable more digital services. A Google local ad for a pizza place down the block from my house is utterly useless – advertising on my iPhone at 4pm when I’m hungry is absolutely useful.”

“There’s a huge opportunity for going after and developing markets that haven’t been developed, as the technology has got ahead of us.” Speaking about the industry generally: “In many ways, we’ve gone a bit soft because of the existence of people like Google and some of the other advertising and content platforms, and we haven’t really been as innovative as I believe we could be, so that’s the big opportunity for next year.

“I do think that some things like the Kindle and some of these niche discussions on how words and pictures evolve from paper to digital … the core fundamental issue is, how do you make money and supply great content, particularly at a regional and local level?”