News International has chosen a social net-ish format for its new freesheet thelondonpaper.com though there’s so little content on it it’s hard to know what to make of it. “Email your pictures, send us your letters, populate our site for us…” The site is in beta and didn’t launch until 4.30pm on the day the paper launched, which wasn’t the best of starts. Ads plug sibling brands Sky and MySpace, and Google’s AdWords also sneaks in.
MediaGuardian looks at the online approach of this News International brand and Associated Newspapers that (if somehow you hadn’t already heard) launched a rival free London newspaper just days apart. Associated has the nine-year-old thisislondon.co.uk site for back up while News International is starting from scratch. Given that News Int is aiming for a younger audience though, that might be an advantage.
Agency.com MD Alex Wright said Associated’s dominant website gives the brand some ownership of London: “There is definitely a sense of a mass of Londoners using it and combining the content of the papers makes the website bigger, deeper and more flexible than either paper could hope to be.” Damian Blackden, director of strategic marketing technology at Universal McCann, said News International was wise to go for a community site feel that will resonate with its young target audience: “The London Paper has set itself up as a youth-targeted read and a lot of this market is increasingly not watching TV when they get home, so there is an opportunity to push people online for longer engagement.”
Related: UK’s Times Online Aiming To Overtake Guardian’s Audience
This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.