Kate Bulkley, Media Analyst.

The slow cannibal

By Kate Bulkley

Financial Times

September 24 2002

ONE EARLY THREAT of the internet was that classified advertisers - the backbone of Britain's regional newspapers - would flock to the new media. Regional publishers were forced to invest in websites to defend themselves from impending online cannibalisation.

This week, The Newspaper Society, which represents the UK's 98 regional publishing groups, will release a report showing that, while most regional newspaper groups have yet to see profits from their investments, cannibalisation has been less of problem than originally expected.

Regional newspaper advertising is up 2.6 per cent on last year in spite of the general market downturn. Fish4.co.uk, which was set up in three years ago by Guardian Regional Media, Trinity Mirror, Northcliffe and Newsquest to bundle the classified advertising from their 800 regional titles, says online traffic is up 35 per cent from last year.

Jonathan Turpin, CEO of Fish4, says that 70-80 per cent of advertisers taking print ads are opting to pay an extra online charge because, he says, Fish4 ads are increasing the number of responses received from the normal print ads, sometimes by as much as 25 per cent.

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