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2 news media companies, 2 start-ups show what successful digital innovation looks like

By Marek Miller


Lodz, Poland


Successful digital innovation takes many forms. Russmedia was joined by Fluid Ads, Sweden's, and Swanest on Wednesday’s 7-minute Brainsnacks at the Local Media Ideas Day that focused on digital innovations. 

Vorarlberger Nachrichten (VN) is Austria’s most digital newspaper. In 2016, Russmedia worked hard to set the golden standard for a new generation e-paper and to convert the  traditional newspaper layout of VN into a responsive Web site for the digital world.

The VN Web site makes full use of digital functionalities and features, offering its smartphone readers the same content received by print readers. It’s the “old” e-paper concept in a whole new jacket.

Russmedia has two main products: a daily newspaper and a Web site. The newspaper is a paid product, and the Web site is free. The two products work apart from each other with different staff and different strategies.

Yet Gerold Riedmann, CEO of Russmedia Digital, showed how to use digital to create a rock-star product for a print team.

Russmedia created an ultimate browser at The site is subscription-based, interactive, specially curated, and hand-crafted. It is a well-known product without an adblocker that offers the VN experience.

The product has a responsive design for all screen types, so it’s essentially an e-paper on steroids, Riedmann explained. It is shareable with supplements and exactly the same product in digital as in print.

Digital innovation in 7-minute segments: Gerold Riedmann, CEO of Russmedia Digital; Thomas Falk, European regional director of Fluid Ads; Michelle Rea, co-founder of; and Silvan Schumacher, co-founder and CEO of Swanest.
Digital innovation in 7-minute segments: Gerold Riedmann, CEO of Russmedia Digital; Thomas Falk, European regional director of Fluid Ads; Michelle Rea, co-founder of; and Silvan Schumacher, co-founder and CEO of Swanest.

Of VN’s circulation, 10% is delivered digitally, which puts the news media company as No. 1 in Austria, with 222,000 users monthly and 88,000 app downloads. The entire digital product was built in-house, including the paywall system.

“Now is the time to believe in our core products,” Riedmann said.

Publishers across the globe continuously come up with innovative and successful ways to boost their local digital sales. Thomas Falk, European regional director of Fluid Ads, shared eight sales-boosting techniques with proven results from all over the world:

  1. Force clients to buy 100 to 200 ads per month (of course, this doesn’t work for everyone).
  2. Use visuals in the sales process. This helps buyers buy and sellers sell, increasing sales up to 42%.
  3. Prove digital’s value in a local setting. 
  4. Multi-shape cross-device packages, optimise inventory, and monetise mobile.
  5. Do not limit yourself to just your own display inventory. Russmedia went from zero to 10 million impressions in three months.
  6. Create an advertiser journey.
  7. Align your sales incentives with your objectives.
  8. Make sure everyone sticks with the programme.

Startup is a new type of real estate site, taking a new and innovative approach to real estate classified advertising. has created a digital home profile for almost all privately owned homes in Sweden, gathering various data points on each home, including a price estimate. Homeowners can go in, claim their home profile, and follow their home valuation and stats on their own homeowner dashboard.

Research shows 61% of all homeowners will consider selling for the right price, which is why also allows users to put a bid on any home, even when it is not officially for sale. Homeowners can also put a price tag on their home, a price for which they would consider moving if they received an offer.

Creators of wondered what would happen if they created a listing all the homes for sale in the country. So employees indexed them on Google Earth and put price estimates on Swedish homes. They collected data on 3.5 million homes.

Homeowners are allowed to visit the digital profiles of their homes for free. They can add more data for their properties -- for example, information about what it’s like to live in that area. Users can also show interest for specific homes. has in its sites the country’s 1.9 million homeowners. The company’s role is to poke, intrigue, woo, motivate, and stimulate those people to sell, said co-founder Michelle Rea. started to market itself in June 2017. So far, the company has 5,000 registered users and 4,000 claimed digital homes profiles. In addition, 2,000 users added a moving price to their digital home profiles, and 500 potential home buyers have already shown interest in using the tool.

“Lesson learnt? Be willing to disrupt yourself, otherwise someone else will come and do it,” Rea advised. 

Silvan Schumacher, co-founder and CEO of Swanest, explained the Swanest Investment Assistant. Swanest is a Belgian fintech start-up, building a portfolio management application for aspiring and existing stock-market investors with a long-term focus. Its role is to create value for the investment community, as well as to build revenues for business media or business segments. 

Business media companies can integrate this plug-in in their Web sites to create user value for their investment communities, and new revenues for their companies, Schumacher explained. Doing so creates innovative advertising opportunities for asset managers, enables gathering of unique data, and strengthens the value of subscriptions. 

About Marek Miller

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