Metro ramps up mobile drive

Metro, the free urban newspaper brand, is set to launch a “first of its kind” mobile-optimised and personalised website as it looks to reach new audiences beyond the morning commuter readers that pick up its print edition and increase its digital ad revenue.


It hopes the site will help the brand spark more conversations across social media, be more consistent between devices and be “more espresso” – the way Metro aspires to be “more concise and stimulating”.

The site will become the first UK newspaper destination to allow mobile and tablet users to swipe between articles when it launches on 5 December.

Next year it will add personalisation functionality, meaning the site can be curated around readers’ personal interests or behavioural activity. It will also include the ability to comment on stories via Facebook.

Jamie Walters, Metro product development director, says the functionality will offer brands ad format “firsts”, such as the ability to buy a full-page interstitial HTML5 ad between swipes.

Metro will also potentially be able to offer advertisers the chance to target users based on their personal content optimisations of the site.

Initially Metro is looking to work with “early adopter” brands who are keen to trial formats on the new site, which Matt Teeman, Metro’s commercial director, says is likely to include some of the major brands who advertised with the paper during the Olympics – such as Adidas, BA and BMW.

The new site was developed based on learnings from the Metro’s iPad app, which launched last year. Bryan Scott, Metro marketing communications director, says 70 per cent of tablet readers that read past page four on the app went on to read the whole edition, engagement it is hoped will be replicated on the new website.

Walters adds Metro is aiming for its site to have the fastest load speed in the industry, which may also help increase engagement with its content.

Looking forward, Metro is also looking to experiment with mobile payments – which could include scannable ads or editorial content in the fashion, home or technology pages in the print version, or click-to-buy functionality on its mobile site and apps. New apps are also set to launch on Android, Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD, Windows 8 and BB10 in the coming weeks and months.


Ultimately, Metro is looking to appeal to more “urbanites” than those who pass through the major city commuter centres in the morning – but managing director Linda Grant says the paper’s mobile developments will not come to the detriment of print.

Grant adds: “Our print product is as fit for purpose now as it was in 1999 because we’ve kept it fresh and relevant. Mobile allows us to extend our connection with consumers from the morning day part to other parts of their lives where smart boredom exists. Our vision is that urbanites will get more from their city on the move with Metro. We are mobile first and we will reach more urbanites on the move with mobile platforms.”

Metro’s owner, the Daily Mail and General Trust, reported a 3 per cent rise in group revenue in the 11 months to the end of August. It does not split out separate results for the Metro paper, although it commented in its pre-close trading update at the end of September that its consumer business delivered a “resilient performance” and benefited from “incremental revenue” from the Olympics – in which Metro secured a substantial amount of advertising, including a landmark cover wrap deal with Adidas.

The group is now at the start of the year and the Metro is in a “key period of investment”, according to its editor Kenny Campbell, which has enabled it to train its editorial staff to adopt its “mobile first strategy”. It is also recruiting across its social media, product management and SEO teams as it looks to build out its digital capability.

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