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Move over Jeeves

Digital subscriber cancellations were halved at The Times and The Sunday Times thanks to a ‘digital butler’. James, or Journey Automated Messaging for Higher Engagement to use his full name, creates personalised emails for subscribers. He sends articles readers are most likely to be interested in, in their preferred format and at the time they are most likely to read it. News UK used £1 million of funding from Google’s Digital News Initiative to carry out the nine-month trial. The number of subscription cancellations among the 117,000 randomly chosen subscribers was 49% less than among the control group who were sent impersonal emails.

Online Nation

Ofcom has published its first Online Nation report, examining how people use the internet and their attitudes to being online. It found the average time spent online has grown by 7% annually and that the average UK adult spent three hours 15 minutes per day online last year, totalling 50 days annually. 13% of the UK, however, do not use the internet – a figure which has remained unchanged since 2014.

Users are also increasingly using smartphones to access the internet; in September 2018 the average UK adult smartphone owners spent two hours 34 minutes online each day using their device. More than a third (35%) of the total time spent online in the UK is on sites owned by Google or Facebook.

Separately, Ofcom and the Information Commissioner’s Office has also published a joint study on media use and attitudes. It demonstrates that internet users in the UK are increasingly worried about being online. Four in five adults said they had concerns and the percentage of adults concerned about using the internet has risen since last year, from 59% to 78%. However, most adults (59%) still agree that the benefits of going online outweigh the risks.

Stood up

With 80% of UK adults admitting concerns about being online, it’s no surprise that politicians are starting to react. The International Grand Committee on Big Data, Privacy and Democracy held its second meeting in Ottawa last week to consider how best to protect democracy and citizens’ privacy in an age of social media. Delegates from 12 countries, including the UK’s own Damian Collins MP, Ian Lucas MP and Jo Stevens MP, had hoped to take evidence from Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook on Tuesday. A summons has been issued to the pair, who failed to attend, which will force them to testify in Canadian Parliament if either enter the country in the future.

 Online grows

Revenue growth at MailOnline has offset falling print revenues at the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday. A 25% year-on-year growth in advertising revenue for the UK’s biggest news website meant that it was able to offset a 12% decline in ad revenue from the print titles over the six months to the end of March.



Katie Razzall has been appointed UK editor on BBC Two’s Newsnight.

Kate Beioley is leaving FT Money to become the paper’s legal correspondent from July 1.

Kasia Delgado is now deputy comment editor at The i paper.

Emma Gannon has joined The Sunday Times as a business columnist.

Katy Dillon is joining Sky News as Westminster news editor.
Sam Coates has started as deputy political editor at Sky News.

Emilio Casalicchio is joining POLITICO Europe as a London-based reporter.

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