VG+ 2.0.
MAGAZINE-QUALITY
NEWS TO GO.

VG+

How a tiny magazine tripled its subscriber base and became Norway’s 8th largest newspaper. In one year.

THE PROBLEM

After running an ad based model serving content for free, media companies have been struggling to charge for content. Solving this challenge is becoming the Holy Grail of publishing – in order to survive in the long run.

As most media companies would know by experience, it is incredibly hard to charge for content if you already have a free web alternative to offer. As paper circulation is on a steady decline, it is of great importance to create new revenue streams – not based on giving content away for free.


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THE BACKGROUND

We had something that worked, but it wasn’t good enough.

VG+ 1.0 was released prior to Christmas 2010 – as an iPad only app. It was awarded the world’s best newspaper app at the WAN IFRA conference in 2011. However, the product had a few shortcomings. It was generic-looking and had far too few subscribers. In order to become profitable, we decided to reboot the concept.


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THE MISSION

Acquire more subscribers. A lot of them. Simple as that.

THE SOLUTION

The bar needed to be raised on several aspects of the solution.

In order to convert people into becoming paying subscribers, we needed to convince them that the product was better than the free web version of VG. The only way we could do that was by delivering a top-of–the-line product, both in terms of design, user experience and editorial value.

WE SET OUT TO ACHIEVE THESE GOALS:
  • A fantastic user experience
  • Steady, insight-driven refinement and iteration, both on the content and app side
  • Smart ways of promoting content on the web and in the paper
  • A much quicker way of producing the content
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“VG+ represents the 5.0 of digital newspapers. It is sleek, easy to navigate, visual and complete … I think that the experience is very intuitive and is much more elegant than the print edition of the newspaper”
Mario Garcia, WAN IFRA Conference

User Experience

The VG+ apps represent a best-of-breed user experience. Visual, fresh layouts. Gesture-based and dead easy to use. Fast and smooth. No wonder why the world’s biggest newspaper guru, Mario Garcia said this about VG+ at his opening keynote at the WAN IFRA Conference in Berlin, October 2013: “VG+ represents the 5.0 of digital newspapers. It is sleek, easy to navigate, visual and complete … I think that the experience is very intuitive and is much more elegant than the print edition of the newspaper”.

The immersive reading experience.

Beautiful articles. Snappy presentation. Dead-easy navigation. VG+ 2.0 is even simpler to use than its predecessor- and its looks have been given a massive overhaul. Images and video play a major role in giving you more visual stories than ever.

The context sensitive app.

Beautiful articles for laid back reading on tablet. Quick mobile updates on the bus. VG+ 2.0 is context-aware, meaning that it is designed for dual-purpose news reading. Either way, it gives the same, pleasant user experience.

The auto-updating app.

No refresh button. VG+ 2.0 itself automatically throughout the day as the stories are published. The daily VG+ edition lives and grows organically as new stuff happens around the world.

Freshly presented.

Do you need something to read on your way to work? Full Newsstand integration ensures that your latest issue is instantly ready for the breakfast table, the bus or the couch without you having to do anything but pick up your device.

Small and lean.

VG+ is not a mammoth-sized download. In fact, an edition only takes up about 30 megabytes in total. Which means that you don’t have to wait forever in order to start consuming the news. No matter the connection.

Refinement and iteration
Traditionally, news organizations have in too little degree been utilizing insight and analysis for optimizing their digital products. With VG+, we wanted to do this better than anyone. We used behavior analysis, statistics, on-the-fly consumption insight and usability research in order to perform a steady stream of updates, to constantly improve the product.
Smart promotion strategies
Utilizing both the paper and the web, the VG+ staff promote the most important stories in order to communicate that VG+ is the de facto platform for premium content on a daily basis. Using Schibsted’s own SPiD payment platform, we are able to convert users in an effective way – whilst getting more insight along the way.

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THE RESULTS

A stunning increase in digital circulation.

Since the launch of VG+ 2.0, the magazine has had a nothing but astonishing growth – way beyond even the most optimistic expectations. The increase in subscribers throughout 2013 amounts to an amazing 226 %. As of today, VG+ has risen to become Norway’s 8th largest newspaper in terms of paying subscribers – even though it only exists digitally. During 2013, VG+ went past Nationen, Klassekampen, Vårt Land, Drammens Tidende and Fædrelandsvennen. And the growth just continues.

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The VG+ 2.0 platform lets us make immersive, beautifully laid out content on several platforms at once. And it makes us do it really fast. Best of all: The user experience is fantastic.
Espen Olsen Langfeldt, Editor-In-Chief, VG+