It may have been a bloodbath at International Business Times in the U.S. this summer, but the digital publisher’s U.K. division is still growing, albeit cautiously.
One important focus, like many publishers: video. IBT has eight full-time producers on its 50-person London staff. All of its video producers have been trained in areas like video animation so they can all produce a mix of formats across business, technology, science, sport and entertainment verticals. IBT publishes up to 120 videos in a typical seven-day week. Some of these are shared from its U.S. video team and use products like Wochit, which helps speed up production turnaround.
The focus has been on creating more evergreen fare, ranging from explainers, longer 15-minute features, to interviews and reviews. The publisher has also kept production costs down by training its team of video producers in animation skills.
“We’re not presuming people just have the attention of gnats,” said editor-in-chief John Crowley, who joined IBT from The Wall Street Journal International.
With fintech such a hot topic in London, the publisher has increased its coverage in this area. Some of its video explainers are animated entirely like this: “How Blockchain is going to change your life” — a hot topic in fintech, born out of the technology that underpins BitCoin. This is an evergreen topic that the team can plan for — and videos like this are planned as long as three months out. Another popular one was an animated video that took a quick tour of Apple’s new London headquarters at the iconic Battersea Power Station.
Evergreen also means longer videos that aren’t just aimed at racking up Facebook views. A 15-minute documentary on the closing of the last of Romania’s communist-era orphanages gives a flavor of its longer-form docs.
These videos sit on its own site, and in a typical week, it publishes up to 150 videos. Having a U.S. video team, too, is a benefit. The teams dovetail on video news that’s relevant to all audiences, like the U.S. elections, rather than duplicating efforts. Working on news projects collaboratively frees up time for longer-term projects.
Most original videos run on YouTube, where its subscriber base is still small. “We are mindful not to do a blanket sweep and swamp our audience on a particular social channel. We strategically decide which videos we think would work on a particular platform,” added Crowley.
Despite doing a lot more longer feature videos, the title can’t afford to ignore Facebook, which has been prioritizing video in its news feed. In the last six months, IBT videos have clocked up around 40 million views on Facebook for the 590 videos it has published there, according to Tubular Labs data.
The team has also started editing videos in “square” formats, which suit mobile and desktop platforms and look good in Facebook’s news feed. An example of one of these can be seen as part of its multimedia coverage of the 100th anniversary of the Trans-Siberian railway, which stretches 6,000 miles from Moscow to Vladivostock, and was celebrated this week.
“It’s like learning a new language” said Crowley. “You have to rethink how you would frame someone in the screen and how you put in subtitles too. But with preparation and practice, you can become accustomed to it pretty quickly.”
More of its video output, like this one of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visiting Canada with their children, now features subtitles, rather than voice-overs, as people increasingly are viewing videos with the sound off specifically on Facebook.
The team has also been experimenting with Facebook Live. While some publishers are leaning toward creating more polished production on Facebook Live, IBT has found it’s the original wobbly-hand-held-camera videos that do best on the platform still. This one of an IBT reporter in the middle of the fracas between English and Russian football hooligans in Lille this year is a good example.
The video teams works closely with its U.S. counterparts and are also in the midst of training up colleagues in its Bangalore office, where it has 20 staff on video editing so it can have more of a 24/7 operation, according to Crowley.
“We want to manage the business carefully and grow in a steady, sustainable way. Video will remain a priority,” added Crowley. “I want to have full 24-hour coverage and be innovative with new formats, such as exploring 360 video and immersive multimedia packages, while increasing our presence on social.”
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