Local media networks join forces to debut ground-breaking digital advertising proposition, 1XL

Ashley Highfield, CEO Johnston Press
Ashley Highfield, CEO Johnston Press

The UK’s leading local media publishers have today announced the launch of 1XL, an innovative digital advertising platform designed to harness the aggregated strength and scale of local media to give advertisers unprecedented UK-wide digital reach.

The collaboration between Johnston Press, Local World, Newsquest and the majority of the UK’s independent local media businesses brings together more than 800 sites and will allow brands, for the first time, to access a broad portfolio of local media advertising opportunities via a single sales point.

The 1XL platform, which officially launches today (19 November), will be run through a dedicated media sales team at national sales house Mediaforce Group. Developed to meet growing market demand, and allowing advertisers to benefit from the relevance and trust placed in local media by their respective communities1, 1XL will give media buyers access to a highly engaged audience of 17.5m monthly unique users (comScore endorsed estimate September 2014)2 – more than any single commercial UK national news media website and similar in scale to digital advertising platforms AOL and MSN.

It will also allow them to take advantage of the rich content environment provided by thousands of experienced journalists publishing more than 50,000 articles every week across the network.

The platform will draw on data from each publisher and third party data, alongside semantic and contextual targeting capabilities, to optimise audience targeting and maximise performance of advertising campaigns. It will also enable ads to be served around the most relevant and engaging content, and will be underpinned by leading geo-demographic analysis and insight provided by Mediaforce Group.

Henry Faure Walker, Chief Executive, Newsquest, said:

“This is a significant step forward for our industry. Through 1XL, national advertisers will now be able to run one campaign seamlessly across 800 local news sites across the UK. Online display advertising is now worth over £2 billion per annum, a market hitherto dominated by the likes of Google and Facebook. We look forward to local news publishers, with the huge investment they make in quality content and local journalism, being able to take their rightful share.”

Ashley Highfield, CEO, Johnston Press, said: “Local media is increasingly becoming one of the most powerful, relevant and trusted ways to connect with a local audience. But national advertisers have been unable to truly capitalise on its potential, hindered by our industry’s innate fragmentation. Until now. The 1XL collaboration gives advertisers and their agencies, for the first time, the ability to scale their campaigns through ‘mass localisation’, and, as such, it is a monumental step forward for local media publishers, and we’re delighted to be partnering with Local World, Newsquest and the independents to help deliver this.”

Blanche Sainsbury, Commercial Director, Local World, said: “1XL is an exciting development for advertisers but also for local media publishers in the UK. It is clear from feedback in the market that there is strong demand for taking national brands local. Providing advertisers with access to our combined online portfolio shows how 1XL is a compelling option for reaching the UK consumer in a trusted and engaging environment.”

Scott Gill, Group Commercial Director, Mediaforce Group, said: “We are delighted to be involved in bringing to market a panacea solution covering every inch of the UK and Northern Ireland through the superlative advertising environment offered by local online media. 1XL simplifies a highly effective but previously fragmented & complex part of the digital media ecosystem. We are confident it will galvanise advertisers and their media agencies to start thinking more about the importance of localisation within their digital advertising strategies, especially as the mobile revolution dawns. For the industry’s publishers, we are hopeful that this initiative will help reward and support their ongoing commitment to investment in professional British journalism and original content.”

John Maloney, Managing Partner - Activation, Maxus, said: “We are intrigued to see this move coming from the UK’s established local digital media as they take on the Portals and other pure-play digital publishers. We are also excited by the prospect of simplified execution across this trusted and powerful media environment, delivered at scale; I am also impressed with the progressive proposition from the 1XL team at Mediaforce Group.”

1. Local newspaper websites are 71% more relevant to their local area than any other websites (including Google), according to Local Media Works Consumer Catalyst Research 2013.

2. comScore has provided us with an estimated audience figure for the 1XL network based on preliminary data; the 1XL entity will appear and be searchable on comScore for the release of December audiences at the end of January. In the meantime please refer to the Iconic Digital Media entry which underpins the 1XL audience.