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1XL launches Audience Development division

Premium local news publisher co-operative 1XL, the UK’s second largest source of news audience, has announced the launch of a dedicated Audience Development division, which will be headed up by former Local World and Telegraph executive Richard Underwood.

Richard brings with him nearly two decades of experience developing audience acquisition strategy for media brands including The Telegraph and Future Publishing’s TeamRock. A digital expert specialising in audience growth, SEO, traffic management and technical optimisation, Richard has unrivalled experience working both publisher and agency side, latterly as Head of Audience Development at Local World.

1XL, which represents 30 of the UK’s leading local news publishers – including Johnston Press, Newsquest, Archant and DC Thompson – in the national advertising market, offers advertisers access to over 800 of their local news brands across the UK and Ireland in one purchase. Reporting into 1XL’s MD Scott Gill, Richard will be tasked with consolidating the fragmentation of technology and websites across 1XL’s publishers to help them build audiences at scale and generate more revenue.

1XL’s Audience Development division will enable it to take on a more advisory role to its publishers, while bridging the gap between sales and editorial to ensure that both sides are aligned on how best to monetise content. From helping shape the publishers’ editorial strategy, to identifying content gaps and defining what those opportunities may be, the new division will focus on creating content models that attract the right users that will help publishers increase their targeting capabilities to drive revenue.

Richard Underwood, Head of Audience Development at 1XL, said: “Local publishers are not currently turning up the volume enough on their premium content. Given the fragmentation in the market, it’s now more important that audience acquisition becomes the connective tissue between publishers’ revenue and content. Google’s algorithms mean traffic is sent to the bigger news brands, while smaller, more local publishers are feeling the squeeze. Audience development plays an important role in rebalancing this, which in turn helps publishers scale and make more money, and I’m excited to drive this initiative forward at 1XL.”

Scott Gill, MD at 1XL, said: “Investment in audience development is integral to how our publishers scale and make money, as it improves their visibility with the machines and algorithms sat between their sites and the end user. Richard’s appointment is reflective of our ambitions to evolve beyond our original mandate as a publisher co-operative as we move further and further into audience acquisition. It’s great to have an audience development specialist like Richard on board, and we see this as a great opportunity to collaborate more extensively with our publishers in the coming months.”