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Local Newspapers Cough Up More Data, Edge Toward Full Audits

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In response to demand from advertisers wanting to place more locally-focused banners, regional newspaper publishers are getting their act together and beginning to produce traffic data for their individual websites. Until now, local newspaper groups had lumped together visitor data – sometimes for hundreds of titles – in a single ABCe return because auditing each title had proved costly, ABCe told The Guardian. But now local publishers “are beginning to see a return on the cost of auditing sites individually” and are thought to be ready to release audited figures for their most popular sites for the first time. Alongside, the sector’s Newspaper Society is to launch a traffic database containing data for some 800 local titles’ sites, allowing advertisers to target sites down to post code level, and this database will be augmented with the ABCe data.

There’s room for improvement in the way local papers handle online advertising, which last year contributed only 2.5 percent of their overall income from ads. Many of Britain’s 1,102 local newspaper websites run ad inventory from national advertisers. But, if the local market ignores the customers on its doorstep, others will welcome them with open arms – not only have dedicated classifieds sites taken a chunk out of that revenue stream, even the national end of the market is now going local, with The Sun last week saying it will launch a hyperlocal site designed to run “ads for local services such as window cleaners and builders and display advertising from local companies” (just the kinds of services that, in print, are the locals’ bread and butter).