Martin Belam, UsVsTh3m, lean startup session at news:rewired
@MartinBelam. news:rewired. September 2013.
Funded by Trinity Mirror.
They wanted to reach new audiences
and test a different way of publishing.
A very fast experiment.
5 weeks from concept to launch of a 2 month pilot.
First day the whole team assembled was the day we went public.
Much like The Avengers.
Why use Tumblr?
It’s a free, fully-featured CMS.
We had to do zero integration with existing systems.
Easy remote publishing, and it scales.
Social. Not SEO.
We defined a set of simple product principles.
Everything tweetable. No long articles.
Everything in a stream. Very little navigation.
Build fast. Iterate fast.
Prototyped and designed in code on Tumblr.
Used real content as soon as possible.
Hired front-end coder to work exclusively on it.
The “Toys” are our USP
Not sure any other news publisher is doing this at all.
Standalone topical “toys” - quick interactives designed to be shared
because they are funny, or resonate... or ideally both.
We started by trolling media for attention.*
*using the proper old skool definition of trolling.
There is a sliver of ice in our soul.
We are funny and silly and all about the LOLs.
And then suddenly deadly, deadly end-of-the-world serious.
House prices game.
House prices are a national obsession.
The game highlights the irrational price difference between
London and...well...basically everywhere else in the UK.
Where is Damascus?
It isn’t NUJ accredited data-journalism, but it makes a point.
And it generated news stories.
And a po-faced response in the Washington Post.
We’ve ignored traditional staffing silos.
These people will talk to each other in a traditional publisher.
But they seldom cross-skill and really work together.
Institutional legacy structures get in the way of making stuff.
Our model. Our skills overlap.
We’ve got specialisms, but all of us
can write, be photoshop monkey, and code*.
*With varying degrees of success.
So far it has worked.
We had over 750,000 unique users in our second month.
Where’s the money?
We think we have four commercial models to explore.
Display advertising isn’t one of them.
We’ve done one sponsored “toy” so far.
I’m @MartinBelam. Thank you. Get lucky.
Rob Manuel. David Stevenson. Tom Scott. Ian Steadman. Nicky Williams. Robyn Wilder.
Design & tech:
Chris Lam. Tiffany Ong.William Turrell. Paul Curry. Matt Round. Martin Belam.
Cheque-writing & giving us space to get stuff done: