Print Downturn Held Back Digital Growth In 2010, Johnston Reckons

Johnston Press pulled just 3.2 percent more money from its news websites through 2010 – digital revenue hit £18.3 million, the company said, announcing CEO John Fry is leaving.

The local publisher benefitted from outsourcing its online job ads platform to DMGT’s Jobsite, but growth slowed in the year’s second half because these benefits had already been realised and because of “a significant reduction in print recruitment advertising listings that were available for upsell into digital“, the publisher says.

Online audience numbers rose just three percent. Johnston says flatly: “Our digital strategy is to leverage the assets of our newspaper business into the online world.”

But it does have a couple of new tricks up its sleeve…

— It’s re-tooled 90 percent of its websites with Autonomy software, to encode stories with more specific data against which to target ads.

That Qype partnership, bringing ads and local reviews against the newly-encoded pages, is set to go online in March/April.

— It’s also re-signed to outsource its BMD classifieds to iAnnounce for another five years.

Johnston group profit swung massively back to a £16.5 million profit, despite revenue dipping seven percent to £398.1 million.. Print ad revenue fell 7.1 percent.