Gray Television, owner and operator of 51 local television stations nationwide, knows how to produce engaging content that informs, educates and entertains its audience. It has been doing that for over a century, since its first edition of The Albany Herald in 1897. The company constantly adapts to a changing media landscape, but for every decision it makes, it never loses sight of what matters: quality content that serves its local communities.
For many publishers, choosing a digital workflow to deliver content can be overwhelming. How do you best deliver a quality multi-platform storytelling experience without overloading your newsroom resources? Gray’s approach was to “keep it simple.” With Instant Articles, Gray could go directly to where its readers were already getting their news and give them a much better overall experience. And because the product fits seamlessly into its existing content management systems (CMS), Gray could simultaneously transform its digital operations across the country while letting reporters focus on what makes them great — producing quality local news.
Gray wanted to quickly get ahead of its competitors and be the local news station most associated with the fast, immersive content of Instant Articles across its 50+ markets.
Reporters today are asked to do more with less. Because quality comes first, the company focused its developers’ attention on making sure no additional burdens would be placed on local content producers.
The decision to go with Instant Articles partly came down to the fact that Facebook is where a significant portion of its digital audience discovers content. Gray believed that by using Instant Articles its local stations might see a boost in engagement on its articles, which would hopefully increase distribution and expose the articles to new readers. Gray also saw Instant Articles as a way to monetize the years of work its teams had put into developing a strong, loyal Facebook audience.
For years, Gray used Facebook to help share content, and has been able to leverage that work through Instant Articles and Audience Network. Gray developers were able to get all 51 stations set up with Instant Articles in 2 months by batching together feed reviews to get multiple stations up at a time. Since then, the company has seen positive results in both traffic and revenue.
Within 6 months of launching Instant Articles, Gray had generated more than $250,000 in revenue, all directly through Audience Network. Gray expects Instant Articles revenue to grow even more as it begins rolling out local-direct sales initiatives.
The company has been most pleased, however, with how seamlessly it was able to integrate Instant Articles into the newsroom workflow. Its primary goal was to give readers a better user experience without having to change how reporters do their job. The digital team managed to reduce any extra workflow to a single checkbox within the already used CMS. Today, reporters, editors and producers focus on delivering relevant content to their communities. Then, once they’re ready to publish, they simply check a box to give readers this brand new reading experience that is also generating new revenue for Gray.
“We’ve been pleased with Instant Articles, both from a support and revenue standpoint. We were able to create a workflow that put no additional burdens on our newsrooms, while generating new revenue for our stations. Most importantly, we’re confident that Facebook users in the communities we serve are getting the best possible content experience. That makes us more competitive.” – Mike Braun, VP of Digital