The Evening Standard is London’s favourite newspaper, reaching more than 1.2 million Londoners a day. But where the newspaper’s circulation is bound by geography, our Web site and other digital products have a global reach.
Expanding our audience online requires a different approach, and audio is an important and growing part of our digital strategy. Publishing podcasts, short-form news, and daily bulletins has enabled us to build habit-forming relationships with new audiences in global territories.
A muti-platform approach
By adopting a multi-platform publishing strategy, we turbo-charged our audience growth. Audio content is published to at least three different platforms every day: podcatchers, smart assistants, and YouTube. Each platform has its own challenges and opportunities.
Our daily news podcast, The Leader, is published first as a 15-minute podcast to Acast. From there it is distributed to podcatchers including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. Our audience on these platforms is healthy and growing, but it is far from the full picture.
The Evening Standard was one of the first news providers in the United Kingdom to publish to Google’s Your News Update, an algorithmically curated feed of audio news clips from multiple providers. Your News Update was launched in the United States in January and is accessible to users via smart speakers and phones with the words “Okay Google, play me the news.”
Our audio team publishes hundreds of single-topic stories to this product weekly, attracting millions of listens per month. Each one of these listens is an opportunity to introduce a new audience — specifically listeners in the United States — to the Evening Standard’s quality journalism. Excerpts from The Leader are published to this platform too and are regularly among our top-performing stories.
These same excerpts are also published to YouTube, where an entirely different audience gets the opportunity to hear our podcast. At times this has been the most rewarding route to market, with listens to individual episodes reaching the hundreds of thousands.
Our next experiment: reversing the flow
While The Leader is a flagship show produced as a podcast and then repurposed for different platforms, our single-topic stories for Google Assistant are like building blocks from which other content can be fashioned.
Each story is between 30 to 60 seconds in length — the duration of a single item in an audio news bulletin. Publishing at volume, with a relatively light production lift, returns a tremendous amount of insightful data that can be used to inform a commissioning strategy for other content.
We’ve seen significant audience interest in our tech and science content, so we recently began experimenting with repurposing our single topic tech stories into a longer, bulletin-style podcast. The resulting show, Tech & Science Daily, is published to podcast platforms where we are seeing a small but growing audience. This new show, in turn, creates an opportunity to promote our long-form tech podcast, Women Tech Charge.
In time we will look at cross-pollinating more content from our single topic stories into our successful Narrative News feed, introducing more content to our smart-speaker audiences in the United Kingdom and non-U.S. territories.
Publishing a variety of content types across multiple platforms means we are spreading our net wide to reach millions of users a month. It creates a vibrant ecosystem of content which can create network effects to build audiences for more flagship shows in future. And it continues our digital growth beyond the geographical boundaries of our city, allowing us to serve global audiences by providing London’s voice on the biggest stories of the day, in audio.