How EuroNews is reshaping itself for a digital-first future (and now)
If you’ve ever stayed in a hotel in Europe for business you’ll have watched EuroNews. EuroNews is the European equivalent of CNN (if you’re American) or BBC News (if you’re British), and is the default channel of choice for most European business hotels. Formed in the 90’s as a response to the increasing Americanisation of world news, dominated by Ted Turner and CNN at the time, EuroNews’ mission was bring a European perspective on world news.
With a reach of 400+ million households around the world, but predominantly in Europe, EuroNews was recently bought by Eygptian Telecom’s Billionaire Naguib Sawiris. Identifying digital as a key growth area for EuroNews, one of Sawiris' first big investments has been to overhaul their website www.EuroNews.com, along with launching an African-focused sister news website www.AfricaNews.com.
Hackers.Media sat down with Hasan Ramadan, to discuss EuroNews’ digital future over a glass of tap water at the Hospital Club, London.
Building infrastructure for a digital-first world
Q: Could you give some background to the old site and why the decision was made to upgrade Euronews.com?
A: "The old site was really showing its age - the design was dated, it was slow, didn't showcase well our video and most importantly wasn't adaptive to different devices. Over the years we had added functionality and modules which had also damaged the coherence of the product.
It had been clear for some time that we needed to upgrade but we really wanted to be sure that we found a look and feel that would work across all our languages and show our values - transparent, objective reporting, focused on video.
Mobile-first, clean and crisp
Q: Could you talk through the design decisions?
A: "We worked with an agency in London called Brand 42, they'd already done some projects before with us so they had an idea about the DNA of Euronews, which was important. We started with two rules.
1) Technical: It had to be beautiful and fast on mobile
2) Editorial: It had to showcase our USP - All Views
The All Views concept is designed to express the diversity of Euronews - journalists from more than 30 nationalities working together in 13 languages - which gives us a unique ability to see any news story from a number of cultural and national perspectives. The first part of our project was establishing how we could showcase this strength by using the design and functionality of the site - how we could highlight tweets and quotes across different languages; reveal where in the world stories were proving popular; and allow our audience to see the different viewpoints presented across our reporting.
We did some user testing across different language groups to test reactions to different designs and also worked with our in house graphics team to incorporate common elements in the look and feel of TV and digital domains.
The build and execution of the site was done in house and, naturally, is ongoing as we learn from the data about how our users are reacting."
Native advertising and premium ad formats
Q: How are you commercialising the website?
A: "We’ve broadened our offering of ad formats on the new site to cater for different screen sizes and have now also created areas for 1st and 3rd party native content. We had to make a clear distinction between our different native offerings and our recent partnership with Sharethrough has helped us achieve that on the 3rd party native side.
We have a dedicated area on each section homepage for 3rd party native and our in-house graphic team have exploited the Sharethrough platform quite well.
Content written by us for brands, will have a different user journey by clicking through to a normal article page, but clearly labelled as being sponsored content.
We continued our partnerships with TEADS, Inskin and Mobkoi on the mobile site with the new site, especially as it is now responsive and we are also talking to Celtra about their mobile formats.
Q: How has the new design been received by your readers?
A: "We ran a beta test of the site for a little over a month and made a large number of changes as a result, especially around the layout of the home page. Having been involved in a few site launches before, I was surprised at the generally positive response from all our audience groups. They liked the fact that the pages were clean, not jammed with content and they also appreciated the clear hierarchy of stories. We created a timeline of latest stories to run alongside our editorial selections which has also been popular.
Nevertheless we did see a slight drop in audience for the launch month, partly because of some SEO issues which we have now addressed.
Iterate and scale
Q: What next?
A: "We think we can do even more to cut page-load time, even though it is already about half what we saw on the old site.
On the functionality side we want to go much further with the All Views concept - for instance introduce a system of polling that will allow users to compare their views with Euronews' audiences in different countries. We're also looking at the potential for auto-translation to share perspectives from one language to another.
Probably the next really big step though will be to introduce new publishing tools so we can automatise many of the back office jobs and free up journalists to produce more and better content."