Johnston Press - the owner of this title - has announced that it has won two separate grants from the Digital News Initiative Innovation Fund, which is backed by Google.
These grants will support two projects, focused on maximising the editorial and commercial digital proposition, while strengthening engagement with readers through harnessing data.
The first project, which received six-figure funding, will focus on creating deeper data-driven consumer profiles relating to users’ attitudes, values and aspirations with a view to gaining greater insights into content preferences, purchasing decisions and brand relevance.
The second, a prototype fund, will explore a location-based offers service.
This investment from Google coincides with Johnston Press’ significant digital audience growth in 2017, with total page views across the JP network set to exceed 1 billion this year.
Johnston Press recently achieved record traffic, as announced in its Q3 trading update, led by the Yorkshire Evening Post growing 64% year-on-year and the Sheffield Star, whose web traffic was up 50% in the last year.
Traffic on inews.co.uk has surged in 2017 to 2 million uniques from a standing start, with Johnston Press creating a digital offering upon acquiring the i newspaper in spring 2016.
2018 will see further investment in inews.co.uk, and across Johnston Press, as it invests in three new teams of digital journalists, video and data experts in London, Leeds and Edinburgh, as well as digital commercial specialists across its markets in the UK.
Jeff Moriarty, Chief Product and Publishing Officer, said: “Our enduring aspiration is to find new ways of improving the services we provide for both our readers and advertising customers, and projects like these help us find new approaches to revenue growth and audience engagement.”
Steven Thomas, Director of Emerging Products at Johnston Press, said: “We’re delighted to receive the support for these projects from Google. With it, Johnston Press has the opportunity to take a another positive step forward in making the most of the data, content and product challenges media owners like ourselves face.”
The Digital News Initiative (DNI) is a partnership between Google and publishers in Europe to support high-quality journalism through technology and innovation.
The DNI Innovation Fund is supported by a €150m commitment from Google, designed to spark new thinking and give European news organisations of all sizes the ability to experiment and innovate in the digital space.
This announcement sees the recipients of the fourth round of funding, with 102 projects in 26 European countries being offered €20,428,091 to support news innovation projects. This brings the total funding offered so far to €94 million. In this fourth round, 685 project submissions were received from 29 countries.