Struggling Trinity Mirror (LSE: TNI) has appointed online media veteran Richard Ayers at its regional web publishing director as it continues trying to monetise local paper websites, paidContent:UK has learned and confirmed with the company.
Group digital director David Black had appointed former Virgin Media (NSDQ: VMED) portal boss Chris Bunyan to be regional digital director in March 2008; now Ayers will report to Bunyan. At the same time, Trinity is hiring TotalJobs director Shaun Collins as digital recruitment director as it tries to up its online job ads performance.
Ayers (pictured) had been Tiscali UK portal director from 2001 to 2006 before taking the editorial development director role at multimedia production house Magic Lantern. He also held a news role as BBC News Online newsgathering editor more than 10 years ago but had spent some time traveling the world this year after overseeing a restructure at Magic Lantern. Ayers joined Trinity this week.
One of the regional publishers suffering from falling classifieds sales, Trinity’s regional website sales were up by a quarter to £38 million last year, but the company has set a goal of 24 million monthly unique users by 2010 and £100 million of digital revenue by the end of 2011. Trinity has been merging online and print operations in its regional newsrooms and has attracted attention for its Teesside Gazette hyperlocal journalism project.
In a curious deal, Trinity Mirror is taking on ITV’s Friends Reunited to provide its white label dating service for Mirror.co.uk and DailyRecord.co.uk. Friends Reunited Dating launched in 2003 and has more than 1.1 million members, but ITV (LSE: ITV) is planning to sell Friends Reunited.