You’d think I’d hear about this around the office, but instead saw this blogged by someone at Optaros, a vendor we use. My co-workers David Payne, Dermot Waters and Lori Adams are blogging the CNN.com Relaunch project. Check it out here. The comments are a great read.
It’s been a busy few days for us at Turner Broadcasting. Today, CNN.com took the wraps off a beta preview of their new design coming on July 1st (as reported earlier). Full disclosure – I work for Turner Broadcasting, and my ad services team has worked extensively on this project, but the views herein are my own. But as one blog put it:
Something strikes me as… different. I can’t quite put my finger on it. It looks cleaner. Brighter. Cleaner. Grayer. Whiter. Redder. Bluer. Nicer.
The blogs seem to have welcomed the new video treatment (no popup player, and now in Flash!), the Amazon-like ‘We Recommended’ feature, the intelligent use of Ajax, the tabbed presentation in stories highlighting multimedia elements and even, daresay it, the cleaner ad presentation. Some comments do opine for the ability to embed videos on user sites, however. I do think the new site embraces the spirit of Web 2.0, emphasizing the blogosphere on every story (via Sphere) and utilizing Topix for local coverage. Another very cool feature are the new Hot Topics pages, which are being autogenerated for pretty much any story, personality or subject you might dream up; here are a few examples: tuberculosis, Lindsay Lohan, Vioxx, and George W. Bush. As an added bonus, all of these are also available as RSS feeds, huzzah!
As with Gametap 3.0 that launched yesterday, my team has been working on the advertising portions of this project for many months. I’m encouraged to read in some blogs that the ads are less obtrusive, and on the technology side, we’ve really broken what I believe is new ground with some of the underlying approaches, especially around the new video players.
Please do check it out, and be sure to add your comments – there is a handy ‘+Feedback’ link on most pages, and the site wants to hear your opinion. More coverage of the beta can be found here.
A colleague has pointed out that our hometown Atlanta Journal Constitution (free registration required) has a more in-depth story on Pipeline moving to a free product. Read ‘CNN’s Pipeline will Stream for Free.‘
In a story in today’s Wall Street Journal (free content) today that focuses on a new CNN initiative with Internet Broadcasting, a Minneapolis-based company that publishes the web sites for 70 local television stations, CNN has secured rights to use local stories from these affiliates, and will in turn provide content to them. As part of the deal, CNN is also taking a minority equity stake in the company. But an interesting tidbit can be found in the last paragraph of the article:
This summer, CNN also is planning to roll out a redesigned Web site that makes all its live and archived video content available free, shifting the subscription model to an advertising model.
And yes, my team has been working tirelessly on this effort for the last six months or more. I believe it’s a game-changer – the product formerly known as Pipeline (reviewed by PC Magazine at launch as ‘the most impressive video offering the Web has ever seen’) is moving to a free model, and when news is happening, I can’t imagine anyone not turning to this product if they don’t have direct access to a television but are online.
The article also talks at length about how much local market online advertising has grown relative to the overall interactive business, something on the order of 200% v. 70% over the last few years according to eMarketer stats cited in the story. This deal helps CNN in this area, and ideally increases traffic (and advertising rates) for both properties. By way of comparison, the article points out that IB has an audience of 13mm, versus CNN.com’s 27.9, and Yahoo and MSNBC.com’s 33.1mm.