Local publishers launch joint digital advertising initiative


The UK’s leading local media publishers - including the Standard’s owner Johnston Press - have announced the launch of 1XL, an new digital advertising platform designed to harness the strength and scale of local media.

The collaboration between Johnston Press, Local World, Newsquest and the majority of the UK’s independent local media businesses brings together more than 800 websites and will allow brands, for the first time, to access a broad portfolio of local media advertising opportunities through a single sales point to give advertisers unprecedented UK-wide digital reach.

The 1XL platform, which officially launched on Wednesday, will be run through a dedicated media sales team at national sales house Mediaforce Group. Developed to meet growing market demand, and allowing advertisers to benefit from the relevance and trust placed in local media by their respective communities, 1XL will give media buyers access to a highly engaged audience of 17.5m monthly unique users – more than any single commercial UK national news media website and similar in scale to digital advertising platforms AOL and MSN.

It will also allow them to take advantage of the rich content environment provided by thousands of experienced journalists publishing more than 50,000 articles every week across the network.

The platform will draw on data from each publisher and third party data, alongside semantic and contextual targeting capabilities, to optimise audience targeting and maximise performance of advertising campaigns. It will also enable ads to be served around the most relevant and engaging content, and will be underpinned by leading geo-demographic analysis and insight provided by Mediaforce Group.

Ashley Highfield, CEO of Johnston Press, which publishes the Boston Standard, Skegness Standard and Sleaford Standard and many other titles across the region, said: “Local media is increasingly becoming one of the most powerful, relevant and trusted ways to connect with a local audience. But national advertisers have been unable to truly capitalise on its potential, hindered by our industry’s innate fragmentation.

“Until now. The 1XL collaboration gives advertisers and their agencies, for the first time, the ability to scale their campaigns through ‘mass localisation’, and, as such, it is a monumental step forward for local media publishers, and we’re delighted to be partnering with Local World, Newsquest and the independents to help deliver this.”

Henry Faure Walker, chief executive of Newsquest, said: “This is a significant step forward for our industry. Through 1XL, national advertisers will now be able to run one campaign seamlessly across 800 local news sites across the UK. Online display advertising is now worth over £2 billion per annum, a market hitherto dominated by the likes of Google and Facebook. We look forward to local news publishers, with the huge investment they make in quality content and local journalism, being able to take their rightful share.”

Blanche Sainsbury, commercial director of Local World, said: “1XL is an exciting development for advertisers but also for local media publishers in the UK. It is clear from feedback in the market that there is strong demand for taking national brands local. Providing advertisers with access to our combined online portfolio shows how 1XL is a compelling option for reaching the UK consumer in a trusted and engaging environment.”

Scott Gill, group commercial director of Mediaforce Group, said: “We are delighted to be involved in bringing to market a panacea solution covering every inch of the UK and Northern Ireland through the superlative advertising environment offered by local online media. 1XL simplifies a highly effective but previously fragmented and complex part of the digital media ecosystem.

“We are confident it will galvanise advertisers and their media agencies to start thinking more about the importance of localisation within their digital advertising strategies, especially as the mobile revolution dawns. For the industry’s publishers, we are hopeful that this initiative will help reward and support their ongoing commitment to investment in professional British journalism and original content.”

John Maloney, managing partner of Activation, Maxus, said: “We are intrigued to see this move coming from the UK’s established local digital media as they take on the Portals and other pure-play digital publishers. We are also excited by the prospect of simplified execution across this trusted and powerful media environment, delivered at scale; I am also impressed with the progressive proposition from the 1XL team at Mediaforce Group.”