The Independent is a British national online newspaper, first going entirely online in 2016. It was established in 1986 as a morning broadsheet before switching to a tabloid format in 2003. In 2004 it was named National Newspaper of the Year and had an online reach of nearly twenty million as of 2021.
Despite big-name brands in their portfolio, such as The Independent, i newspaper and The Evening Standard, The Independent needed to be able to reach a younger demographic. The brands in their portfolio were strong in their own right but weren’t dressed up for a younger target market.
The indy100 was devised to take on BuzzFeed and reach a younger audience. Our brief was to help launch it as a product, working on the value proposition and go-to-market strategy as well as the growth strategy. We had to work on a proposition that wouldn’t be a carbon copy of BuzzFeed and the mechanics, behaviours, and components behind the product. This involved content strategy, engagement, and social mechanics.
What We Did
This was a completely new proposition for The Independent, and it needed to be a standalone revenue stream in its own right from day one. One of the advantages that we leveraged was using the existing advertising brands from their portfolio to advertise on the indy100, allowing them to reach a new audience too.
We looked at the mechanics of engagement and how the indy100 could be interactive for users. All of the articles could be upvoted or downvoted, meaning there would only ever be 100 articles in the feed at one time. The top article would be the most ‘interesting’ article as voted for by readers, and the least interesting would drop off the list when it reached 101 in the list.
This meant that the service would be sticky, and readers could constantly scroll and find something interesting to them. The idea behind this is that it would keep users on the service for as long as possible. There were social mechanics involved, too, so users could share the articles that they found funny, interesting, or engaging. Quizzes and games were built into the app as part of a broader content strategy to bring people to the app in the first place.
We were responsible for ensuring that the proposition and commercial model worked and fitted the service. We were also focused on making sure that the product strategy was engaging and spoke to its desired audience.
Outcomes and Solutions
The experience ended up being hugely successful for The Independent, as the indy100 is still going today. Our proposition and go-to-market strategy were on the money as we effectively built a new division of their business, resulting in a new revenue stream for them.