How Reuters is expanding its consumer business

Reuters is experimenting with how it presents news on its site as it continues to expand and evolve its consumer news brand.

The news giant, which has 250 staffers dedicated to consumer publishing globally, wants to modernize how it presents content on all 17 of its editions. So far, that has involved reorganizing thousands of articles into newly redesigned topic channels such as Technology News, Politics News, and World News. The publisher is testing this on the U.S. edition and plans to extend it internationally in the next six months.

In conjunction with these changes, the six-person London-based mobile team is developing a new mobile app. The plan is for the mobile app to launch first in the spring, with the remaining 16 international editions, including the U.K., to be updated in the next six months.

With these updates, Reuters hopes to give its users the chance to personalize their news feeds by selecting the most relevant topic channels for them. This method has worked well for the Reuters TV app — the first of its consumer products to feature personalized video news feeds.

The TV app has doubled its monthly viewers in the last year, with 2 million people now watching per month, according to the publisher. The growth has been attributed to the personalized five- to 30-minute news broadcasts that pull together different video clips based on factors like a user’s location, their viewing history and how much time they have to watch a video.

The TV app was borne out of investments Reuters has made in machine learning and personalization over the last few years, according to Isaac Showman, managing director of Reuters Consumer. Now, the publisher wants to apply the same algorithm used to personalize video news for Reuters TV to text articles on its other consumer products.

“We are expanding Reuters’ consumer presence, which isn’t always as well-known in various markets as other publications might be,” said Showman. “We’re doing so by focusing on being a utility: How we can be the most useful, relevant source of information to professionals in a way that helps them do their jobs better? Then, we’ll work hard with clients to take that lean-forward engagement to layer on commercial messages.”

Reuters has a way to go before its consumer presence matches that of its legacy business, providing thousands of publishers around the world with raw news content. It has faced setbacks in getting its consumer brand off the ground, abandoning a website redesign in 2013 after two years of investment. But Showman is confident these new changes will help assert Reuters as a must-have news utility among its target audience of business professionals.

“There’s a certain type of consumer for whom Reuters is a highly trusted news brand, so there could be an opportunity there,” said Enders analyst Joseph Evans. “I can also understand the desire to diversify their business in the face of the financial pressures their B2B customers are under, but going further into consumer news provision is not the best way to escape a reliance on declining consumer news providers.”

That said, Showman said client demand is growing for branded-content campaigns that involve its own audiences. For example, for financial services company Synchrony Financial, Reuters TV app users were asked to be part of a video series about entrepreneurs called “Working Forward.” The videos, which featured the entrepreneurs talking about their ambitions and businesses, were produced in four 15-second segments that ran separately in sequential ad breaks during Reuters TV programs. Reuters said the campaign delivered a 27 percent lift in brand awareness, 14 percent lift in brand advocacy and 100 percent completion rates.

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