KIT is a forward-thinking digital publisher based out of Stockholm that builds content made to be consumed on social platforms. We talked with Fredrik Strömberg, the publisher’s co-founder and VP of Product, about why the publisher was so eager to join Instant Articles, how they design articles to stand out on the platform and what impact fast-loading content has on his business.
We started KIT a little over two years ago because we wanted to create a site for the social and mobile age. Before, my co-founders and I were at a 100-year-old legacy print publisher. When we were there we saw social go from 10% of traffic to 50% and we decided to break loose. News today is discovered on social and consumed on mobile. With our own publication, we can now create and design articles for where Swedish audiences are getting their content.
At KIT, we cover society and culture, but not breaking news. We try to understand why something is happening instead.
Instant Articles is the embodiment of our philosophy at KIT, which is to be fully distributed by providing a great reading experience in the place where readers actually gets news. Before, a reader clicking a link and getting taken to a mobile site was a functional transaction. It was fine, but what’s better than reading content on the platform itself? We started off designing KIT.se for the mobile phone, but once we got the option to actually publish directly to News Feed, we were adamant about joining.
Our business model is to be great storytellers. Our revenue comes from advertising and content marketing. To be great storytellers, you need clean contact between readers and content — the less disturbance there is between readers and the content experience the better it is for us. Through the experience of reading Instant Articles, reading KIT is better, and over time that helps the perception of the brand.
Honestly, we don’t care if readers go back to our homepage or mobile site. We just want to show clients that we provide the best experience for reading and discovery.
It’s hard to judge traffic growth before and after since we basically launched with Instant Articles. But we now have around 165,000 followers on our main KIT account, and that is around half of what the tabloid “giants” here in Sweden have, and a fair bit more than the biggest national dailies. So we’ve come from nothing to that position in 18 months. And we’ve also added the niche accounts for food and beauty on top of that.
We use Audience Network for display ads. Display advertising is not our main focus at all, however. But Audience Network is really easy to use and a great monetization option to have. On the KIT.se mobile site we have programmatic options and Audience Network for Instant Articles performs better.
But our near total focus is on selling our native advertising offer through KIT Creative Studios.
Our Facebook presence overall, Instant Articles being a big part of that, impacts everything we do for KIT Creative Studios. We learn from all our stories how to deliver the most impact within Facebook. We can then package that knowledge and sell it to the client for their own stories. We know how to succeed in this social environment — how to get great reach, awareness and engagement. Instant Articles builds our case that we know the best way to give content to readers on Facebook.
We’re also developing specific style templates for branded content on Instant Articles. Its the same logic as using Instant Articles for editorial — the reading experience is better and the threshold for reading is lower. So it will be a better story. People see the flash icon and we think they will have a higher tendency to click on it.
A lot of publishers are almost exclusively focused on what the story should be about – we care a lot about how a story should be told, regardless of subject matter. And we measure output in a lot of different ways, from engagement down to really granular measurements of content completion.
We built something called KIT Story Engine, on top of a data ontology called KITCORE. It holds a number of taxonomies describing editorial content in a lot of different ways, from intent and objective over to headline type and tonality. Depending on category and job type the creator gets a lot of best practice recommendations on how that story could be presented to reach its potential. And the nice thing with having this data setup for content is that even articles that don’t take off gives us meaningful information for how to tell better stories.
The process was really straightforward for us, we didn’t have a lot of adjustment. From the beginning we set it up as an RSS Feed but now we use the API. The API shortens development time a lot, since we get feedback right away instead of having to wait for the feed to update. It also enables us to easily export the whole archive so we can do a batch update when we make template changes for example
When designing KIT initially I asked our art director, “If you were to design the next generation of media products, what would you do?” he said, “I’d strip everything away.” That style ended up evoking a similar look and feel to Instant Articles.
To stand out on Instant Articles we focus on pull quotes, section breaks, typography and images. We have a very simple graphical profile, with a few bits and bobs. We have these rainbow gradients in our pull quotes, and we actually import those as image files to an Instant Article. For images we do heavy image processing. For example, we do faux-painting effects, gritty cut outs and heavy color gradation using our Photoshop robot that is called KIT Effektor, where everyone in the newsroom can get lots of creative output just from a single image. It’s great fun and also something that gives us that extra edge.
Because of the new style editor, we’re actually about to have a more sophisticated style in Instant Articles than on our mobile site. We’re building out new design templates for our food and beauty articles. We don’t visually distinguish those types of stories our desktop site — but on Instant Articles we will, and it looks great for us.
We’ll be doing the same for our native advertising business and moving more Creative Studios content over to Instant Articles.