Breaking barriers, right on the money

A Breaking News is disrupting the traditional news website space in South Africa with a pragmatic approach that shows the power of getting content right. 

In early 2016, mobile first agency, MobiMedia, a company in the Ole! Media Group, acquired the news and entertainment website SA Breaking News (SABN).  Since then, MobiMedia’s dedicated editorial team has achieved phenomenal results, increasing the monthly audience by nearly 325% in just 15 months.

From an audience of around 123K unique users in March 2016, SABN’s readership has consistently grown, reaching over 522K monthly users in June 2017.

Perhaps more importantly, beyond just seeing the number of visitors to the site increase, the SABN team has more than doubled reader engagement from 1.5 page views per session last year, to over 3.5 pages per visit in recent months, generating a whopping 2.77M page views in June 2017 alone.  Good news for advertisers who wish to reach this young, urban, informed and economically active audience.

The most remarkable thing about SABN’s growth, however, is that it was all achieved organically – driven by an improved and highly focused content strategy. 

“When we inherited the site, the focus was immediately placed on organic growth. We needed to build credibility and a stable audience,” says Deseré Orrill, Group CEO. “We needed to turn our attention to building a community, which is what we have achieved and is now evident in not only the numbers, but the engagement.” 

 “Small details in social media posts are hugely important. Asking a question or presenting a user with a call to action – instead of just pushing a headline – created a 45% increase in engagement on our social media posts,” explains the site’s Editor, Siyabonga Mchunu. 

The upward curve of SABN readership numbers has mirrored the growth of the site’s team of content producers, with young entertainment writers like Chanice Jennike and Oluthando Keteyi working hand-in-hand with ‘hard’ news journalists like Alana Bolligelo.

“Our young team is writing stories across a wide range of topics, cropping images, embedding videos and tweets and interacting with users on social media on an ongoing basis, since the digital realm is ‘always on’.

“Key to understanding media in the age of millennials is that the days of prescribing what the audience should read, are over. Readers of today are active participants in the process, with news reports often being the catalyst for lively online debate. This means that digital publishers can not only follow trends, but possibly pre-empt or even initiate them by inviting (and being prepared for) feedback: be this comment, criticism or accolade,” concluded Orrill.

Indicative of this, readers on SABN are as keen to voice their opinions on the platform’s various channels, as they are to read the up-to-date news.

Where to now? With a strong entertainment following and a growing ‘hard news’ audience, SABN is aiming to expand its base amongst sports readers, too.  The publication will also be incorporating regular audience polls into the mix, so that it can remain in touch with what its readers want, while giving them a platform to air their opinions. After all, there is certainly no such thing as taking an audience for granted in the digital age.