Newspaper advertising revenue was down but online advertising made up for the decline at Independent News and Media last year.

INM brought in just over €71m in newspaper advertising last year, according to results published this morning, down from €73m in 2013. But online revenue was up from €6.4m to €8.8m.

Chief executive Robert Pitt said the figures represented “a very good set of results” which showed that the business was “really starting to improve dramatically”.

He said advertising was now back in growth for the first time in seven years, as digital revenue made up for losses in print.

However he believed that the print product – which still accounts for a huge piece of the company’s revenue – still had a lot of potential in the years ahead.
 
“There’s an awful lot more road for our papers  to be sold,” he said. “Digital for us is a very big opportunity.

“For that we’re investing in digital, we’re repurposing and we’re hiring to create more digital journalism content and improve our websites. It’s up to us in management to make sure we take advantage of that opportunity.”

Mr Pitt said the company was also looking to expand further beyond its core news outlet brands, as it felt there was a lot of opportunity to exploit in other digital markets.

It could use its strong readership – both in print and online – to aid this too, as they could bring readers on to their other platforms, like coupon site Grabone.

“We’re very confident that our continued strength in print, even though that market is quite difficult, that we’re going to be able to keep the reader with us and bring them into our digital offer and make sure that INM continues to get stronger,” he said.

Mr Pitt also signalled that the newspaper group would not follow the lead of its rivals at The Irish Times by introducing an online paywall in the near future – as he said there was still so much potential in the free-to-view market.

“At the moment we think there’s an awful lot more opportunity to grow traffic on the websites we have on our platforms,” he said.

MORNING BRIEFS - New figures from the National Newspapers of Ireland show a marginal decline in advertising spend in 2014.

€156m was spent on print and digital advertising across the 16 NNI member titles last year, down 0.5% on 2013. €91m originated from advertising agencies whilst €65m was invested by direct advertisers, representing an increase in direct spend of over 4%, the first increase recorded since 2007.

*** Britain is seeking to become a founder member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Backed by China and supported, so far, by 20 other nations including India, Pakistan, Malaysia and Qatar it's seen as a potential rival to the World Bank. Chancellor George Osborne said being in on the ground floor with an institution which aims to involve itself in development projects would "create an unrivalled opportunity for the UK and Asia to invest and grow together".

The news was not warmly received in the US. An unnamed senior administration official in Washington told the Financial Times the White House was "wary about a trend towards constant accommodation of China".