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Trinity Mirror’s the New Day newspaper vies for ‘Facebook news-feed’ style but won’t get a site

Trinity Mirror’s the New Day tabloid is being pitched as a “newspaper for the digital age” that will forego a site in favour of driving brand engagement on social as it looks to adopt a “news-feed” approach to curation, writes Seb Joseph and Jessica Goodfellow.

Like everything about the launch of a newspaper at a time when people consume so much news online, the New Day’s digital strategy goes against the grain. However, chief revenue officer James Wildman asserts that the lack of a site and the decision to replicate the way people access content from their social media feeds in print, is in keeping with audiences’ underlying yearning for more curated experiences.

Rather than a site, the New Day’ will use Facebook and Twitter to get people talking about its articles rather than publish them. Since the digital manifestation of the newspaper is going to be socially led, that aligns what the publisher is trying to do with the newspaper itself in terms of being a modern relay of news on a daily basis.

There are few in the industry that don’t agree that daily, snackable, short-form news is moving further and further off the page and onto the screen. And for that reason the New Day's bosses believe that there’s an opportunity to provide an “optimistic” and politically neutral summation on those stories for a mid-market audience that isn’t currently being catered for in print. Indeed, for every £1 of print revenues Trinity Mirror loses, it’s only making up 13p through digital, which illustrates why a new print property is so important to it.

As such, the New Day team are doing everything they can to stand apart from other legacy newspapers; the Facebook-style news feed approach to content layout comes on glossy white paper rather than the usual stock, while sports coverage won’t be consigned to the back pages and classified ads are scrapped from the design outright. There’s also more onus on stimulating conversation around articles so if a reader comments on an article on social media then that view could appear in the next issue.

The radical departure from the tropes of newspaper printing also extend to adverts, with eight fixed placements spread across 40 fixed pages each day – two full page ads, two half pages and four smaller ones. Right hand copy ads will also be available, another departure from the established practices of newspaper advertising. Yet the decision makes it easier for the editors to know how much room they have and where the adverts are, which will in turn help the reader navigate the paper easier as well as controls the yield for the publisher.

Advertisers for the launch issue next week (29 February) are yet to be locked in but Wildman said he and his team would be “busy” securing deals for the “first month and beyond”. Key to the proposition is that the New Day is a newspaper for “women and men” in a market where its rivals are focused predominantly on the former, claimed Wildman. That’s not to say that the New Day is exclusively for women and instead Trinity Mirror understands that it can’t target the same audiences as other publishers because it’s hard for advertisers to cut through at a time when media owners are risk averse when it comes to print.

“From a Trinity Mirror Solutions point of view it’s not unhelpful to have a mid-market national newspaper alongside the Daily Mirror,” added Wildman. Trinity Mirror Solutions is the publisher’s commercial arm and Wildman’s mention of it here belies the fact that it could integrate the New Day’s female skewed audience into a wider sell alongside its local titles and be positioned as part of team rather than a standalone entity in order to steal share from similar placed titles of the Daily Mail and the Daily Express.

The New Day will be sold alongside the Mirror in 40,000 outlets across the UK at 25p for the first two weeks before settling at 50p. The launch issue will be free and is understood to have a print run of a million, followed by a smaller circulation of around 200,000 copies thereafter.

"Publishers as a whole are having to take risks in order to survive, be that NME’s decision to go free, the Independent’s decision to go online only or Dennis Publishing’s decision to launch a freemium title into the already busy health and lifestyle market," said Jamie Dunlop, publisher account director at independent media agency Total Media.

"In what has been a seismic 10 days for the publisher market, the Mirror has followed the Economist’s move to bolster its ranks with a magazine targeting a younger audience and the Independent owner ESI Media’s decision to scrap some of and sell the rest of its print offering. It’s emblematic of how savvy media owners are getting at identifying what their audience are delivering, what audiences advertisers want to reach and then adapting, launching or closing a product depending on those needs."

Consequently, media agencies can see the commercial sense behind the launch of the New Day, though they are far less sure as to its long-term credentials.

“It is certainly a brave move [to launch a print title now],” said Phil Hall, head of trading and investment at MediaCom: “You have to look at it not just in context of individual title but at its position in the stable of the Trinity titles. You could look back in a year and it could be a loss making part when viewed by itself, but it be contributing to greater sales for Trinity from an advertising point of view, in which case it would work and will help them in the overall sales package.”

Mark Jackson, UK managing director at media agency MC&C, continued on this point: "If it is priced properly and the content is as up-to-date as possible to rival online news distributors there is no reason why it cannot work. I think given how time-poor consumers are, specifically at the age range this newspaper is targeted at - 35-55-year-olds - this modern approach of bitesize news is more relevant to what consumers are looking for. This is potentially a new construct for other publishers to follow suit."