Aftonbladet stays focused on content readers will read, share, talk about tomorrow

By Western iMedia



Jan Helin, editor-in-chief of Aftonbladet, spoke at the 84th INMA World Congress about how to drive change and the strategy for change.

At Aftonbladet, mobile reach of its content passed its print reach in 2011, and in 2014 mobile reach also passed the desktop reach. This shows the change in the media landscape, but also shows what has remained the same.

“I would argue yes, everything has changed except for one thing — and that one thing is our reason to be,” he said.

A constantly changing organisation can prove to be uncomfortable for many of those people involved in the change, Helin said. If a leader is wanting to transform a media organisation, that leader must have a sense of urgency and a sense of security.

Aftonbladet has a daily reach of 3.3 million readers, including a readership of 45% among Sweden’s population between ages 16 and 79.

“We have a unique position on the Swedish market,” Helin said. “We can compete with Facebook for reach in Sweden.”

Helin explained the key to success for Aftonbladet, which involved having the strength to abandon old ways in media: “It’s not just about understanding what’s happening. It’s about having the courage and the ability to act on what’s happening.”

As the news day goes on, it used to be that a media company would have to decide what to tell its readers for tomorrow, but that is not the case anymore.  

“Today, the readers are with us from early morning to late night,” he said.

With readers constantly tapped into media, a change had to come in the form of preparing for multiple, separate deadlines as opposed to just one.

In the early morning, news stories are aggregated and are put into short and quick formats. The late morning helps set the day’s agenda along with finding new angles to the current stories. A lunch deadline helps to further stories and decide whether the story is being populated on social media.

This helps decide whether to push forward with current story or find another story that is bringing more attention. 

Mid-afternoon is a time to give people something to talk about with a new or funny topic. Early evening can be a time to discuss that night’s big game or new television show. Late night gives a news summary for those who missed out, and an outlook for the next day’s discussion.

“These are five things to talk about tomorrow,” he said of the late night content.

As Aftonbladet moves forward and discusses goals, focus will be on generating content that will be viewed today and discussed among readers. This involves having content that will remain a topic of discussion into the next day, giving more expansion on previous news stories: “We are passionate about creating tomorrow’s media today.”

Helin discussed a three-pronged tipping point strategy:

  1. Actively driving your readership into your digital edition: “If you don’t do that, someone else will take your readers and respond better to their habits,” he said.

  2. Aftonbladet showed the power ad revenues with higher ad revenues in mobile than in print in 2014: “You need the online sales force to be in the driver’s seat.”

  3. Having paid content to cover the cost for the editorial production.

Helin introduced a concept called “Crime Central,” which allows people to stay updated on police investigations by uploading content related to crimes that they may have witnessed, helping create the story. This shows the usage of the mobile engagement concept in the real world.  

“Mobile is a very powerful tool for interacting with the readers,” Helin said.

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