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24.com is Africa’s biggest online news publisher. After their success in receiving the exclusive
2017 Most Innovative Tech Firm – South Africa award, as part of the 2017 Tech of the Year
Awards, we spoke to Head of 24.com, Andreij Horn to learn more about the biggest digital news
publisher in Africa.
24.com is Africa’s biggest online news publisher. They publish news across several digital platforms including News24, Netwerk24, Fin24, Sport24, Traveller24, Wheels24, Parent24, Food24, W24 & Channel24, HuffPost South Africa, plus several apps including Bounce News Nigeria, Daily Kick, Sliced News, NetNuus, Netwerk24, News24 Edge & News24. The types of clients they work with are advertisers and agencies across all industries from financial, to retail, to FMCG.
Andreij Horn, says the company’s approach to innovation in technology and commerce differs in some ways, but basically follows the same strategy – driving for measurable improvement in the metrics that measure.
“When it comes to technology, we believe that the innovation curve is steep and fast and that a company in our position should be setting the trend in rapid, small, incremental improvements to user-experience on a continuous basis. The result of these should be visible in increased dwell time that reflect our readers finding the content we produce, and platforms we deliver that on, engaging.
“At the same time, we don’t believe we should build that which we can buy. We far rather invest our engineering capacity in developing the solutions that deliver competitive advantage, than in building utility functions that can be acquired easily by our competitors.
“To make that practical: Digital publishers do not compete against each other. The real competition is with the social and search juggernauts for revenue market share. Technology that enables publishers to modernise their apps and mobile platforms to deliver the user-experience their readers get from for instance the social platforms, will not add competitive advantage. At best that is a qualifier to be allowed a seat at the table. Therefore the technology must be acquired as quickly as possible and in ways that do not tie one in to a huge investment making the next round of innovation hard and expensive. Buying it, and preferable buying it as a service, provides that kind of nimbleness.
“On the other hand, developing the capability to introduce for instance a potentially lucrative ecommerce opportunity into the business by which the large, profiled, digital audiences can be monetised in ways other than by means of advertising, represent a far more strategic and sustainable way to utilise one’s engineering capacity. This is where digital innovation really pays off.
“Both of these scenario’s – innovative publishing platforms, and effective ecommerce solutions – utilise machine learning and artificial intelligence to deliver bespoke experiences to the readers and customers, but in the first instance it makes sense to buy it in, deploy and harvest the benefits in increased user engagement fast, while in the second the strategic imperative dictates building that competitive advantage in-house. “
Horn says digital publishers who concentrate all their efforts on being better publishers, will over time find that they have reached the point where they have captured the advertising market share as best they can, but it still doesn’t translate into a sustainable and increasingly successful commercial venture.
“We therefore apply the same thinking to commercial innovation, but with one very important difference – here the commercial partner’s strategic objective sets the agenda, and not ours. We will buy that which we need to qualify us to be considered an effective commercial channel to market, but then we will use our own engineering capacity to develop that which will make us an excellent solution provider in terms of how we partner with Brands and retailers to achieve their marketing strategies.”
Horn says in approaching technical and commercial innovation in this way, 24.com has grown both audience and revenue significantly above the industry norm in their markets and have managed to attract engineering, product, commercial and editorial talent who want to be part of a growing and innovating company.
“Thank you selecting us as 2017’s Most Innovative Tech Firm. We appreciate the recognition and it is gratifying that those in your selection panel noticed the things we are doing in this regard.”
Sales enquiries: [email protected]
Web Address: www.thespacestation.co.za
Address: 24.com and The SpaceStation Digital Media Solutions
13th Floor, Media 24
40 Heerengracht St
Cape Town, 8001
Telephone: 27 21 406 4930