With the growth and popularity of News Aggregation apps and portals, the Sun Times saw an opportunity to increase audience size, advertising revenue and customer retention by implementing an aggregation strategy to layer on top of their existing news service. Using 3D Issue’s Hub API, they:
1. Ceased development of their own aggregation project saving them millions in projected resource costs
2. Created a national news services for each major metropolitan area in the US within 1 month of signing onto the 3D Issue hub service
3. Doubled their audience in 90 days
Wrapports LLC is the American-based privately owned publisher of the Chicago Sun Times and the Sun Times Network, the headquarters are the Sun-Times building in Chicago.
The Sun Times Network (STN) was tasked with creating a hyperlocal news service for regional news. The STN had 45 employees, 15 of these employees were community managers focused on creating new channels for 33 local communities using fresh local content, content from the Sun Times Network in addition to other national, international and trending news from other sector specific sources.
One of the greatest problems facing news portals today is the challenges presented by aggregated news portals. The average visitor to a leading news aggregation site spends on average 3.8 minutes per day. The average visitor for traditional news websites is much different, with the average visitor spending an average of 1.5 minutes per day. This staggering statistic is based on data from comScore and includes the likes of Yahoo News, NBC News, BuzzFeed and CNN.
Aggregation services allowed audiences to personalise the content to their specific needs, leading to a higher retention of audiences and increased revenue through longer exposure to advertising.
Seeing the value that aggregated news could add, the STN saw an opportunity to create a automated, data-driven news discovery service for their market, regional news. STN to expand from the 33 local community news services to creating a news portal for each of the major metropolitan areas in the US.
Their challenge they faced was the technological requirements to build an aggregated news service. STN started development of their own aggregation engine but soon realised building an aggregation engine would put tremendous pressure on engineering resources and it would require an investment of millions to manage and maintain the forecasted 3 million tracked articles per month.
How 3D Issue Helped
Having already started developing their own aggregation platform, The Sun Times went through the classic buy/build analysis and decided that it was best to focus their engineers on other aspects of the business.
When researching the market, they quickly found that 3D Issue’s Hub platform was the best solution on the market that met both the feature set requirements along with the operational and strategic outlook.
The key attributes STN were looking for in a partner and solution included the abilities to:
1. Track content from more than just RSS feeds. They needed other sources tracked, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube
2. Track hashtags on social platforms including Twitter and Instagram
3. Pull content from any web page rather than rely on the content from within a RSS feed
4. Allow freelance editors to submit content without having to provide access to their CRM
5. Collect other content types such as product listings
6. Have an open API
7. Manage and store millions of articles per month
Once the partnering platform was integrated, the project would be managed by their content creation team and therefore they required a platform with an intuitive UI that would allow non-technical personnel to upskill with minimal effort.
From their research, STN identified 3D Issue’s Hub platform as the only tool on the market fitting their needs as it offered the ability to track up to 20 different online sources including all major social platforms, alerts, XML and even email.
The XML and email submission tool allowed the sun times to track product listings and allow external editors to easily submit content directly to their audience via email.
In order to validate the reliability and flexibility of the hubs aggregation engine, STN trialled the Hubs API. The decisive factors in partnering with 3D Issue to manage their aggregation needs were:
1. The platform’s quality of content delivery, load management reliability and uptime
2. The simple integration process and supporting documentation for the API.
3. The intuitive UI, enabling non-technical staff to easily absorb Hubs into an existing workflow
4. The range of aggregation services available
5. 3D Issue’s understanding of the market and future outlook,
6. 3D Issue’s customer support and engagement
Results, Return on Investment and Future Plans
The adoption of 3D Issue’s hubs into STN has been a tremendous success. The Hubs API is now the primary content delivery platform for the Sun Times Networks platform. As a result of the success of the Hubs API, the STN has been able to:
1. Double their audience in 90 days
2. Create a two-fold increase in revenue
3. Save $1.5 million in the cost of building an aggregation system *
4. Save $500k per annum in personnel costs for support and enhancing their system *
5. Save $400k per annum in hardware and software costs *
What Our Customer Has to Say
“We went through the classic rent/make/buy analysis; we felt the best focus for our engineering resources at this time was not on building and managing the aggregation piece of the business. We were in the process of building very similar technology to 3D Issue; the question was keep building or work with 3D Issue. We felt very aligned culturally, operationally and strategically with 3D Issue. We were able to have very transparent and open conversations with 3D Issue and have developed a solid foundation for a long partnership.
Our audience has more than doubled in 90 days with revenue running at more than 2 X plan so far and this is continuing and accelerating.
Our objective is to keep growing at this rate and HUBs plays an important role in our evolving operating model. We look forward to a long partnership with 3D Issue. The customer service and engagement has been superb.”
CEO, The Sun Times Network