The number of regional press websites in the UK grew by 33% last year as publishers embraced digital platforms, according to the Newspaper Society.
Its annual survey showed the number of websites grew from 828 to 1102, while online ad revenues increased 18.3% to £71m.
But that’s just 2.5% of total regional press ad sales, suggesting there is plenty of more room for growth.
The Society said the study (pdf) showed "the evolution of regional newspaper companies into multimedia businesses".
President Russell Whitehair said:
“Growth in local newspaper websites means they now collectively represent one of the top UK online properties, attracting an estimated 20m unique users a month – which would put it above the BBC, alongside Yahoo! and within striking distance of eBay, MSN and Google.”
The total turnover of the regional press industry was £3.87bn in 2006, with advertising and sponsorship sales accounting for 73% of the total (£2.83bn). Print contributed 94.5% of the sector’s sponsorship and ad revenues.
The study found the number of staff on the payroll in online publishing and web design was 618 at the end of last year, out of a total of over 49,000.
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