How ISTV is growing digital revenues faster than print revenues decline

Ilta-Sanomat, the largest news media in Finland, is one of the rare winners in the online video business. It has been able to turn a traditional newspaper into a truly multi-channel media company, in which digital revenues grow faster than the print revenues drop.

Hanna Kouri, channel director ISTV at Sanoma Media, told delegates at the second day of the INMA European Media Conference that 90% of Ilta-Sanomat’s reach comes from digital channels — desktop and mobile. 

She discussed how to take a shortcut into the online video business by avoiding some of the most common mistakes media companies make when learning about online videos.

Ilta Sanomat is the largest news media in Finland and No. 1 in all of its channels. It has a weekly reach of 2,450, 000 users (interesting fact: population of Finland is 5,000,000), and 90% of this reach comes from the digital channels: desktop and mobile. Mobile has already exceeded desktop use, Kouri said.

Video is on the front of multi-channel strategy: Mobile first, with video at the forefront.

ISTV online video channel is the center of IS multi-channel content strategy. It is the leading video channel in Finand with more than five million weekly video starts, Kouri said. Video content enriches the articles on IS site.

Dozens of video clips are produced daily:

  • 10+ weekly studio programmes and mini serials.

  • Several live broadcasts and live sport games every day.

  • Video content from ISTV comes from all of its editorial departmnets, other Sanoma units, news agencies, production companies, and freelancers.

Video represents a solid growth for Ilta Sanomat, Kouri said. The media company started with 1.8 million video starts in April 2013 and recently reached five million video starts.

The videos have been profitable from the beginning, with growth doubling yearly. Most reveue comes from pre-rolls also mid- and end-rolls, which have best earning potential in commercial content using native advertising, branded, and sponsored content. The bundling model also works for Ilta Sanomat: display, mobile, video, and print advertising, as well as event marketing.

This year, the company started experimenting with paid content with brands like ISTV Extra and IS Extra.

Kouri offered these six tips to a successful online video business:

  1. There are no shortcuts. Learn by doing and practise on live video; don’t cheat with autoplays, playlists, or topics.

  2. Use online native video content. Show, don’t talk! Don’t do linear TV online or print on video.

  3. Be cost efficient in production. Get out of the studio! Don’t buy a TV company or produce B-class TV shows.

  4. Invest in your product. Video is the key part of the strategy. If you are not going to invest in it, don’t do it. It takes too much time, effort, and money.

  5. Focus on content, technology, analytics, and commerce. Say hello to your new friends. You will work with them 24/7.

  6. Get used to unmanaged change and constant development. Run as fast as you ever can. You’ll have time to sleep in few years.

Kouri also offered advice on how to embrace mobile video. In the end, it’s all going to be mobile, so if it doesn’t work on mobile, don’t bother, she said.

  • Be sure all formats work.

  • Timing is everything (create a publishing clock for the content).

  • Learn the habits of your audience (study the analytics).

  • Try, fail, succeed, and repeat, repeat, repeat....

About Marek Miller

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