Irish Times Group puts innovation at the heart of its breaking news app relaunch
Ideas Blog | 06 September 2022
Following The Irish Times’ acquisition of Landmark Media group, breakingnews.ie was at a crossroads — and a strategic review was underway.
The Irish Examiner was moving to a digital subscription model, prompting questions about the future of breakingnews.ie, which had operated as a direct offshoot of the Examiner since 2001.
It was an exciting opportunity to work alongside Michael McAleer, the newly appointed editor, and researchers, designers, and tech specialists to create a new identity and market position for breakingnews.ie. This was done with the aim of securing its future in the ever-competitive media landscape.
Using learnings from audience surveys and UX testing, we addressed both our content strategy and site design to grow our audience. We relaunched under the tagline, “Fast. Factual. Free.”
- Fast, both in its delivery to readers but also in terms of the time it took them to read stories.
- Factual, a trustworthy voice in the age of fake news and misleading social media.
- Free to readers who opted to spend their digital subscription budgets on specialised publications related to their hobbies of interest, rather than news.
Breakingnews.ie’s market position sat with other free-to-air Web sites in Ireland while delivering content of the same quality and editorial standards and under the same ethos as The Irish Times. The news would be delivered in short articles to an audience who were information hungry but time-poor.
Under the content strategy, we embraced the growing consumer demand for video content by partnering with Virgin Media to deliver three-minute bespoke Irish news bulletins twice daily.
Launching with a clean, uncluttered look, the design worked hand-in-hand with the content, stripping back the volume of sections based on the popularity of the content and reorganising for ease of navigation, particularly important for the new app. BreakingNews.ie was to bring fresh voices into Irish journalism and to serve as a training hub for the group in news coverage for the digital age.
Our premium flagship titles, The Irish Times and the Irish Examiner, are highly esteemed, steeped in the history, and woven into the heritage of our nation. They are trusted to accurately deliver both national and global news while our regional titles are authoritative voices servicing our local Irish communities.
It was decided that, commercially, breakingnews.ie would become the innovative sandbox — a test environment for new commercial products and opportunities, with success in this space translating as innovation for the group as a whole.
Innovation drives success
The “space for innovation” model has yielded successful results, most notably a new partnership with SeenThis, a video streaming infrastructure company. Their game-changing technology enables breakingnews.ie to offer HD video formats that are streamed rather than downloaded.
With innovation at the heart of our strategy, we have successfully:
- Grown our audience +48% YOY (TGI 2021 vs 2020).
- Our video-first strategy and fresh new voices have resonated with the 18-24 demographic, seeing it grow by +78% (TGI 2021 vs 2020).
- Our revenue has grown 96% YOY overall with an 871% increase in IO advertising.
The next phase of the evolution of breakingnews.ie is a TV campaign to raise further awareness of our Web site and app. Our campaign is currently live on Premier Sports and we will be amplifying this across the Virgin Media network and in an exclusive in-store partnership with The Grafton Barbers.