The Times calls on advertisers and agencies to boost digital innovation

The Times’ digital director has called on advertisers and agencies to become more innovative in producing digital content.

Gurtej Sandhu says the launch of its iPad app heralded a “rebirth” in the media industry.

Sandhu says: “It’s a whole new way of storytelling. We are rapidly evolving technologically because newspapers – and media companies in general – have woken up to this concept of innovation.

“We’re now becoming technology companies as well as media companies. Advertising agencies and advertisers need to go down that same journey,” he adds.

The Times has used traditionally strong sections of the paper version in its development of digital applications. Its Culture Planner allows iPad users to click and add reviews and event details to their online calendars, while future iPad developments include the title’s music and film sections.

Next week The Times will launch a fashion element to its iPad app. The concept, which was developed from its Five Ways to Wear Fashion page, includes a 360-degree three-dimensional model that allows users to change the clothes to trial different looks.

The second phase of the product will see The Times collaborate with advertisers and retailers so users can buy the clothes direct.

Sandhu’s comments come as Nielsen estimates that 362,000 people in the UK are accessing content behind The Times and Sunday Times paywall, which was introduced in July.

A monthly average of 1.78 million individual users visited the site between July and the end of September, compared with 3.1 million unique visitors during the previous, paywall-free quarter.

Of the number visiting during the previous quarter, 362,000 went on to access content behind the barrier.

Nielsen says the paywall audience is more affluent and more engaged than the demographic of site visitors when content on The Times website was free.

Nielsen adds that all registered customers “provide a richer sales proposition because of the detailed personal opt-in data they provide to News International”.

The demographics show that households with an income of between £50,000 and £80,000 a year make up 29% of the paywall group, compared with 25% before the introduction of the paywall. This contrasts with a 5% drop to 14% for households earning less than £20,000.

Figures also show that 80% of visitors to do not go behind the paywall.

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