By Daisy Whitney
If recent news events have taught us anything it’s that viewers absolutely expect stories to run on-air and on the Web at the same time.
That’s why when NY1 News gave its Web site a much-needed makeover late last year, the 24-hour Time Warner Cable-owned channel stuffed the site with lots of videos and launched some serious promotion.
The news network’s Web face-lift and subsequent promotional campaign, which won a number of design and marketing awards at June’s Promax|BDA conference, can serve as a useful template for other news outlets upping the video ante online.
Now, 90 percent to 95 percent of the stories NY1 telecasts run online, an increase of 30 percent. That includes news updates, weather and video reports from around the city’s five boroughs.
Touting that big bump was a key objective in last fall’s NY1 promotional campaign for the relaunched site. In a bid to win new viewers and inform existing ones, NY1 ran cross-channel spots highlighting the additional online videos on the Time Warner system in New York.
“NY1 was in desperate need of a Web site upgrade,” said Patricia Obermeier, VP of creative services for NY1 News and the Time Warner Cable-owned regional news channels. “Once it was completed, we wanted to attract new users and entice a return of anyone who may have tried our old site and gone away since our old site was very outdated and had limited video content.”
That’s where New York-based design, animation and strategy shop CA Square came in. It created a promo for the new site that won two Gold Promax awards, one for on-air promotion for a Web site and one for design, as well as a bronze BDA for art direction and design for a topical promo.
“We wanted to make it look and feel current, and we wanted people who have not sampled it to go to it and have them be pleasantly surprised,” said Obermeier, who declined to discuss the budget for the promotion.
The key? To not make the promo look like a Web site. At first blush, that may seem a counterintuitive strategy to promote a Web site relaunch. But showing the site is a tired approach, Obermeier said.
“We explained to CA Square that we didn’t want something where people say, ‘Oh yeah, it looks like the Web site,’” she said. The goal was to capture the essence of the new site’s functionality, ease of use and generous amount of video.
“We wanted a spot that people would watch again and again, finding cool and interesting things every time they viewed it,” she explained. “We met our objective by creating a fast-moving spot with a color scheme that matched our on-air and online look. Hard-hitting music drove our message home.”
In the spot, animated tabs containing video clips fly by, looking like stylized files rather than Web site screen shots. The voiceover emphasizes that NY1.com now contains streaming video for nearly all stories every day. “We needed to show we had a lot more video,” Obermeier said.
The spots, which started in November, were effective. Beforehand, the site was averaging about 2.3 million visitors per month. Early this year that number had reached 3.1 million. In the months following the campaign, the site saw as much as a 34 percent increase in page views at times, Obermeier said.
Time Warner is rolling out revamped Web sites for its regional news channels in Syracuse, Rochester, Albany and Buffalo, N.Y., and in Austin, Texas, using the NY1 makeover as a guide.