Not long ago, when the Net was a club for academics and
cyber-geeks, it was possible to run from conference to conference and
spark serious debate by predicting the death of newspapers.
But no more. You can get the Internet in Dixons and newspapers are not
going to disappear. Instead, they will exist alongside the Web, with
each medium concentrating on what it does best.
What the Web does best is deliver useful and up-to-date information at
the click of a mouse - and this is precisely the aim of Associated New
Media’s Evening Standard Website, This is London.
Aside from its UK Plus search engine, This is London is Associated’s
first major Web content venture. Previous efforts have been experiments,
ranging from the business pages of the Standard, a football site called
Soccernet and a failed subscription-based royal gossip site,
This is London is an online guide to life in the capital, designed for
visitors and natives alike. But it isn’t simply an online guide-book. It
is a real-time guide to theatres, cinemas, pubs and restaurants and also
an electronic newspaper, updated with news, sport and weather six times
This is London brings together electronic versions of Hot Tickets, the
Evening Standard’s weekly free listings magazine, sections of its weekly
lifestyle magazine, ES, and six guide-books published by Associated
Newspapers, such as Children’s London, the London Pub & Bar Guide and
the London Restaurant Guide.
That said, for things like restaurant, theatre and cinema reviews, the
site does not simply rely on what is printed in the guide-books and the
paper. It has its own staff of ten journalists to add new reviews and
Perhaps the strongest measure of the weight Associated is giving its
new-media activities is the presence of Martin Dunn, the former Today
editor, as Associated New Media’s editor.
Dunn, who returned to the UK from the US, where he was editor of the New
York Daily News, says the Standard was the obvious choice for
Associated’s first major new-media launch: ’Over the years, it has
aggregated a huge amount of content,’ he explains. ’We looked very
closely at Boston.com of the Boston Globe, which is a great aggregator
of one thing - news and information about Boston. We realised that we
had the same. So we took the decision to focus on London and the Evening
Not only did Dunn’s team look at the Boston Globe’s site, they now plan
to work with it and other similar ventures. Associated is to strike a
deal with the paper and the New York Times, which is about to launch
NYToday.com to inform visitors and locals about the city.
The three sites will cross-promote each other as the places to look for
information about each city. Deals with the Globe and the Times are
likely to be followed by others in Europe and more US cities, according
While This is London has little competition, Time Out has a weekly
updated site and Capital FM’s site provides some listings information.
In the US, the competition is considerably more pronounced. Both
Microsoft, with its Sidewalk city guides, and AOL, with Digital Cities,
are active in many major US conurbations. AOL is set to launch UK
versions this year, but Microsoft has yet to say when it will bring
Sidewalk across the Atlantic.
Although This is London has only been around for two months, the site
has proved a success with advertisers, with all the spots on the site
sold out in both December and January.
Among the advertisers scheduling This is London are Budweiser, LineOne,
Vodafone, British Airways, Nurofen, Ericsson and Orange.
Lee Thompson, commercial manager at Associated New Media, says: ’It has
been a very encouraging start for us, but not surprising. We are a
high-traffic site with huge national and international potential, and to
that end we are offering as diverse advertising packages as we can.’
Thompson says that the site is not simply offering banner ads and
sponsorships, but it is also looking to tie advertising opportunities in
with London-based sports events, such as the tennis at Wimbledon. The
site can be accessed at www.thisislondon.com.