(41), editor-in-chief of B.T.
B.T. focuses entirely on mobile
The new mission of Danish tabloid B.T., which is owned by DPG Media, isn’t ‘digital first’ but ‘digital only’. After an illustrious 100-year history, the newspaper’s last print edition rolled off the presses on 31 December 2022. Editor-in-chief Pernille Holbøll talks about the brand’s bold decision to focus only on mobile visitors.
ernille Holbøll started as B.T’s new editor-in-chief in May 2022 and was immediately presented with a major challenge. “It’s an exciting mission: to preserve the essence of a newspaper like B.T., with such a long history, in a 100 per cent digital version,” says Holbøll, who describes B.T., founded in 1916, as a modern tabloid focusing on news, sports and entertainment. Like its umbrella company, Berlingske Media, it leans liberal.
The move to 100 per cent digital did not come as a surprise. In recent years, B.T. appeared as a paid newspaper only at the weekend. On weekdays, it was distributed for free in public transport. And while print circulation had been declining since the 1990s, the bt.dk website just kept growing and growing – with 550 million monthly page views, B.T. is one of the biggest digital players in Denmark.
While Holbøll firmly believes in a digital future, this does mean that B.T. is now fully funded by online ad revenue. “The question is how do we convert our digital lead into the highest possible ad revenue. The Danish market is also unstable due to the war in Ukraine and high inflation. Ad prices have dropped considerably.”
B.T. needs more than just a large number of visitors to its website to generate enough revenue. Often, marketers prefer to buy ads from Google and Facebook because of how much those companies know about their users. This allows them to offer targeted advertising. Holbøll plans to solve this by asking users to create an account. By 2025, she wants more than half of B.T.’s visitors to be logged in.
To become Denmark’s best news website, Holbøll also plans to invest in podcasts and video content, which readers can use to catch up on news, politics or major crime stories. One of her sources of inspiration is NU.nl, one of DPG Media’s Dutch brands. “They have a very clean layout and they’re always on top of the news, but they’re also good at service-oriented content, like weather and sports. They even stream live matches.”
For mobile users
Another thing that stands out about B.T.’s strategy is that it only targets mobile users – for now, at least. This becomes clear immediately when you open the bt.dk website on a computer: the layout is made for mobile. “We want to reach younger readers in the 25-40 age bracket, who read the news on their phone. That means our editors and reporters work differently: shorter articles, smaller paragraphs and clear intros.”
At all the newspapers where Holbøll has worked before, people would always say that ‘the paper’ was the most important thing, more important than the website. It’s time to ditch that mentality, she believes. “The number of subscribers is falling, but there are more potential readers than ever. Clearly, we need to do better to reach younger readers. We need to be assertive, set the agenda and develop new business models.”
This is also what she tries to tell her colleagues every day. No more thinking about tomorrow’s newspaper – focus on today’s reader. “We now have a continuous deadline, which is new territory,” says Holbøll. “We’re several years ahead of other media.”