Metro boosts digital focus with mobile and web foray

Associated Newspapers' Metro is ramping up its digital presence with the launch of its first mobile service and two new online portals.

Metro Mobile will repackage the print edition's national news and showbiz content for web-capable mobile phones. Metro is aiming for 50,000 mobile users a month.

The service has been soft launched - users can access free content through mobile URLs and - although a full commercial launch will take place early next year. Metro has signed up ad sales house 4th Screen to sell its mobile ad inventory.

Metro head of digital Jamie Walters said: "We are on the cusp of an explosion of mobile content. It is not yet a huge revenue generator, but we need to be in that space."

While numerous newspaper publishers are moving into mobile - with The Sun, Trinity Mirror and Johnston Press having done so in recent months - Walters said the Metro service would stand out by allowing users to access user-generated content.

Meanwhile, in addition to the mobile launch, Metro is to debut two online portals around user-generated content and music content, backed by a six-figure investment.

Metro is to deploy innovative revenue models for the two sites: video clip site MEview and music site MEmusic.

Users registering for MEview can upload their video clips for free, with the option of choosing a 10 to 15-second pre-roll ad to run around their clip.

The user then collects a share of the cost-per-thousand views rate that Metro charges advertisers.

Currently, the pay-out is £1 per thousand views, but Walters said this rate could increase to £3.

Walters said Metro's rates were also "cost effective" for advertisers. "Pre-roll ads can be £25 cost per thousand impressions typically, and this is £15," he added.

The morning free newspaper is also exploring opportunities for advertising around its MEmusic talent showcase site.

Users can upload their own music, listen to tracks for free or download MP3 music files for 79p, of which the content owner gets a 70% share.

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