LONDON: UK newspapers have been urged by a leading industry figure to stop viewing online and print performance metrics separately and instead focus on a single brand product.

Mike Darcey, CEO of News UK, publisher of a stable of UK titles, told a London media and telecoms conference, reported by The Drum, that digital technology offered the foundations for new growth and greater engagement.

"So, let's hear no more about the death of newspapers," he declared, "let's celebrate the future of news brands."

UK advertising forecasts from Warc and the Advertising Association have already moved in this direction, including online adspend for news brands, magazine brands and TV in their overall figures rather than breaking them out separately. And the Audit Bureau of Circulations said recently it would be combining print and digital circulation figures in its next report on magazines.

Darcey argued that the industry's current focus on print sales was not only misleading but "myopic" and the cause of "strategic mis-steps". The digital revolution meant, he said, that news brands could "deliver to our customers greater choice, functionality and convenience than ever before".

He further maintained that print advertising revenues were declining at slower rate than circulation, which indicated that advertisers still saw a value in this medium.

But new figures from DGMT, publisher of the Daily Mail, illustrated how the balance is shifting towards digital. Underlying advertising revenues across Mail titles, for print and digital combined, rose 5% in the three months to December compared with the same period a year earlier, the Financial Times reported.

But advertising revenues at the MailOnline almost tripled to £15m; in contrast, print revenues dipped by £1m to £53m.

Darcey ultimately expected the industry to divide between a free, digital-only model, "but the amount of revenue available is modest", and a paid-for proposition based on deep engagement with the consumer and delivered in a range of formats.

Data sourced from The Drum, Financial Times; additional content by Warc staff