Close on the heels of a major redesign initiative for the CNN International channel, plans are on for redesigning the CNN website as well, which is expected to be unveiled in about two weeks’ time. William Hsu, VP – News Advertising Sales for Asia Pacific, CNN International, explains more on the organisation’s new media plans and more.
In a conversation with exchange4media, Hsu said, “The redesigned CNN website will be radically different. We are incorporating a lot of new social networking tools into our website. As part of our Internet or new media strategy, we have launched our new CNN iPhone app, which I understand was the most downloaded app for the few days after its launch. That is also very effective as an advertising medium. Mobile advertising is not that big right now, but we think with the iPhone it is going to start a new trend for mobile advertising.”
The iPhone app has been introduced in the US as of now as the iPhone penetration is more there. This app is expected to be launched in Asia in about a year’s time.
Speaking further on the new media plans, Hsu said, “We already have all the various platforms like WAP, Java, and now the iPhone app. Moreover, we are developing something for some other smart phones, we have something with Nokia as well.”
On India, he added, “India has always been a situation where the technology and the infrastructure are not quite there. But I don’t think we actually need to do anything because we already have the technology, so it is actually getting the users to acquire the technology.”
Website redesign plans
Speaking more about the website redesign, Hsu said, “We did a lot of research, biometric research, in Europe. So, it’s not just asking people ‘do you like this, do you like that’. We wired people up with electrodes, monitored their heartbeats, sweat, where their eyes were moving on the website and used it as a basis to redesign the site.”
He further said, “We have a lot of content, but what we have found that people generally go to the homepage and then we lose a lot of people because they only go to the home page. Just a few per cent of the people go on to the second, third or fourth clicks. So what we have decided to do is put a lot more content on the homepage and making it much easier to navigate. Right now, you might find say 30 stories, but later on probably you will see close to a 100 stories, all done by subject matter and very extensive.”
“Secondly, we are integrating much more of our television product, wherein we have written stories and also video stories. Earlier, we used to have a folder format or tabs, where you press one tab and you have the written story and then you press another tab and go to the video. We are changing it all into one tab. From the previous tab experience we found that 50 per cent of the people read the story and also played the video. Now what we have done is merge the two together so it’s much cleaner and easier to navigate. We feel it gives a competitive advantage. There are many players that can ply written content, but not that many who can ply video content, especially high quality video content,” Hsu added.
On social media content, he said, “There will be far greater integration of social media into our website. We have partnerships with Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and we’ve been very successful at it.”
Coming to content from India, Hsu said, “India is going to be part of the Asia-Pacific section on the website. There’s a lot of news coming out of India, we have three offices here. India will have more share of the content on the website.”
Regarding introducing more Indian content on the CNN channel, he said, “The reality is the market is so competitive for news. I don’t feel there is a need to create more Indian content. If you want more Indian content go to the other 15 channels that are available. But who has lot of international content and can do it in a credible way? Very few. Moreover, we have a partnership with IBN here for local Indian news.”