Summary:

Daily Mail (LSE: DMGT) & General Trust’s annual report has a predictably gloomy 2009 outlook – but one little-known advertising initiative i…

Daily Mail (LSE: DMGT) & General Trust’s annual report has a predictably gloomy 2009 outlook – but one little-known advertising initiative is helping the company’s struggling regional papers at least make some money. CEO Martin Morgan: “The gloomy economic outlook points to extremely challenging conditions for our key advertising markets throughout the coming year. On the plight of regional newspaper division Northcliffe Media he says: “These adverse economic conditions look set to continue for the next two years and will compound underlying structural challenges caused by the migration of readers and advertisers to the internet.”

That Northcliffe is troubled is no surprise, but the company reveals today that ad software The Bubble, which DMGT quietly introduced in February 2007 and about which it has hardly shouted about since, now seems to be helping scrape back some revenue and now accounts for £2 million of sales in the regional newspaper group. DMGT chairman Lord Rothermere says the self-service ad technology, which lets sales staff customise and manage ads without the need for designers, “has the capacity to revolutionise local media advertising”. The Bubble is used for more than 100 ads a week and some 15,000 print and more than 2,000 online ads in total since its inception. Northcliffe’s October revenues were down year on year by 28 percent, with property down 52 percent and recruitment down 37 percent — so every little helps.

The headline figures are unchanged from the preliminary results in November. Chairman Lord Rothermere and Morgan set out their views in filmed interviews. Annual report here.

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