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Newspaper publisher Johnston Press has launched mobile sites for each of its 211 regional titles, which include The Yorkshire Post and The Bucks Herald.

The new mobile optimised sites will include news, sport and entertainment content, as well as job listings.

In addition the sites will integrate JP's 'Find it' function which delivers user recommendations for local businesses.

JP will monetise the sites by selling two ad slots on each of the main and article pages, but Steve Ricketts, European managing director for JiWire, said the publisher may be missing a trick.

Moving to mobile optimised sites is a good step, but to really takes advantage of their regional content Johnston Press needs to know exactly where its readers are.

If they are reading the Yorkshire Post you can assume you know where they are and the ads could be quite useful, but finding accurate data on their location helps to provide far more relevant adverts.

Adverts have a two to three times better CTR where accurate location data is available.

Ricketts said that 69% of consumers are willing their location if it means they get more accurate content. Furthermore, a survey found that the top three things consumers want when they are within one mile of a retailer is reviews, sales promotions and directions.

New ad formats allow advertisers to offer coupons and links to video content through banner ads, which would be an attractive offering for marketers if JP chose to make use if them.

Based on its vast network of regional newspaper sites JP has great potential for building a strong revenue stream through location based advertising, and while the current mobile sites are a step in the right direction there is scope to do a lot more.

As an ex-JP employee I found that the company focused more on improving newspaper sales rather than looking to innovate through online and mobile channels.

The beleaguered publisher, which has seen its share price plummet to 5p, is still an important news gathering network so it is pleasing to see that it is (albeit belatedly) trying to innovate under the guidance of new chief executive Ashley Highfield.

As newspaper sales continue to fall so will print ad revenues, but if JP can work out a way to make money from its mobile sites then it may still have a future.

David Moth

Published 13 December, 2011 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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