Starting on April 29 of this year, the Flemish quality newspaper De Standaard is no longer published only in the morning. Our extra digital edition is available in the evening, going by the name dS Avond (De Standaard “Evening”) and bundling news – every day of the working week — for readers in “evening modus.”
Like many newspapers around the globe, the editorial strategy of De Standaard is to develop digital products. Despite a perhaps atypical successful decade of continuing growth in circulation, De Standaard realises that from now on growth will come from the success of digital news products.
So we looked at the great examples in our segment such as Le Monde and The New York Times to understand the essence of their digital strategies.
That’s how we came up with dS Avond, the digital evening edition of De Standaard.
So what is dS Avond exactly?
It’s not a replica of a newspaper. Neither is it a multi-media app or a magazine. The closest we get to that is the word “edition.”
dS Avond is a compact edition of De Standaard with text, image, infographics, video, cartoons, and games. It informs and entertains in a fresh and interactive way, using all the plusses of a tablet, though it’s also available on a PC.
A reader swipes, scrolls, and clicks his or her way through the edition. It’s quite addictive!
dS Avond appears at 5 p.m., at a moment when there’s a shift in the day.
People are ending their working day and looking forward to something else: They take the train or subway home, fetch the children from school, prepare the evening meal, do the dishes.
It’s at the end of the day’s practicalities that there’s some time for yourself. (The Germans have a beautiful word for it: “feierabend,” or “free evening”).
That’s the moment where dS Avond comes in. It brings easily digested news in words, pictures, and film. It takes about 15 minutes to consume. After reading this edition, you have the day’s news in a nutshell.
De Standaard chooses the evening as an extra publishing moment because we believe in our role as an alternative in the market of evening news media.
Penetration of tablets in Belgium is growing at a fast pace, already leaving behind the sales of laptops. People are more and more acquainted with ideas like the “second screen.” Moreover, dS Avond is a real, lean-back product, perfect for tablets.
dS Avond is made by a separate editorial staff of eight full-time employees -- an experienced team of journalists, including photo editors, graphic designers, and our best senior writers with expertise in digital journalism, politics, economy, culture, and life style.
The goal we have for ds Avond is to bring news in the same measure as our colleagues working for the newspaper or the Web site, along with more room for opinon and analysis than the Web site. This news should be presented in the form of articles, yet be faster, more agile, and more playful than the newspaper.
It seems that dS Avond brings together the best of both worlds. There are no articles from the site or the newspaper in this edition. Everything is genuine dS Avond-only content, refreshed daily with an interactive crossword puzzle included!
How about pricing?
As everywhere else, there’s no such thing as a free lunch (not anymore). We’re going to have to educate the Flemish reader to fully appreciate and valorise quality journalism and make him want to pay for it.
Our full subscription is not cheap, but we are convinced of the value we give our customers. And newbies are tempted with very attractive offerings.
dS Avond is one month old now, and the first month was a success. With a daily opening average of 17,500, this edition has a higher reach than the digital morning newspaper.
As the first three weeks were free to every registered user, this figure will surely drop. But we are counting on a solid base of fans, and working to obtain sustainable growth.
There is a lot at stake for De Standaard. Investing in new product offerings is risky. But I’m sure that we at De Standaard share a sentiment with a lot of publishers: We like to innovate.
We think that because of the speed of the news cycle, many of our readers are looking for an overview – hierarchical and trustworthy news sources. We know from the 7:00 TV news that despite news sites and social media, nearly half of the Flemish population looks to their television for news.
That’s exactly where our ambition lies: to bundle news in a contemporary way, with De Standaard stamp of trustworthiness all over it.