Guardian joins in registration game

The Guardian, which last week unveiled details of a staffing revamp in its new media division, is to introduce registration on its revamped Websites. The move is intended to improve its appeal to display and classified advertisers.

Justin Walters, promoted from general manager to head of new media at The Guardian last week, says registration will be required for new and existing users of The Guardian’s online content.

Its introduction is expected to coincide with the roll-out of the extended range of “Guardian Unlimited” themed sites over the coming weeks. Rival broadsheets, including the Electronic Telegraph and Times-Sunday Times sites, already require people to register to use the sites.

The timing for the introduction of registration has still to be finalised.

According to Walters: “Registration will allow geographical targeting of ads. Its introduction is an investment in developing advertising. There may initially be fewer page views, but it’s an investment in gathering information that can be used to show advertisers who is using the sites and allow them to target ads at different segments of the readership.”

Walters, 31, was appointed general manager at Guardian New Media in October last year. Previously, during an eight-year spell as a principal at strategic consulting “boutique” OC&C, Walters specialised in advising other media groups on Internet strategies.

As the division’s leading “dealmaker”, he has already worked alongside departing Internet editor Ian Katz to develop a range of premium content for sale on its site, in partnership with specialist content providers, to boost revenues for the division.

Katz, a long-standing friend of Walters, will maintain a watching brief over The Guardian’s online activities, following his promotion last week to features editor on the newspaper. Deputy editor Simon Waldman takes on the lead editorial role as part of the reshuffle prompted by Katz’s departure.

The division is also looking at developing e-commerce opportunities to boost display ad revenue and is exploring the launch of an online cinema ticketing service to sit alongside its film-related content, says Walters.

But in the short-to-medium term, recruitment advertising will be a key battleground for limited online revenues and The Guardian is determined to attack rival publishers in this arena.

“We can get significantly improved revenues from online recruitment advertising,” according to Walters. “And we are set to start selling recruitment ads which don’t appear in the paper.”

The move may allow advertisers reluctant to pay the ratecard cost of advertising in a national broadsheet a method of avoiding the alternative routes of advertising in regional newspapers or specialist press, Walters suggests. He insists the launch of standalone online recruitment advertising will not cannibalise The Guardian’s print recruitment advertising.

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