NowThis News

NowThis News on Facebook

Earlier this month details were reported about a new video news outlet called NowThis News, which describes itself as being "built for people who live on mobile devices and social networks".

The announcement earlier in the month, as reported here by Mashable, included information on some of the team who would be working on it, alongside co-founders Ken Lerer and Eric Hippeau, which included Eason Jordan, formerly of CNN, and the Washington Post's Katharine Zaleski.

Now that the site has started to publish examples of its work out into the world, we spoke to social editor Drake Martinet, who joined from Wall Street Journal's technology news site AllThingsD, about the direction of the company and how it hopes to "disrupt the video news business" and "build on social media from the very beginning".

He said that while there has not been an official launch as such, there are already examples of their video work to be found online, on its Facebook Page, via its Twitter account, or through its partnership with BuzzFeed.

"The point is that we're going to be very iterative and responsive to the audience, that we're going to try a lot of different things and a lot of different formats and try and listen to our users."

He added: "Rather than there being an explosive launch you're just going to see more and more of us".

"I think what's more likely is at some point we'll look behind us and say, well it's clear that we've launched. In the coming weeks and not too many months there's going to be a lot more of us out in the world in a lot of different ways and it's coming quickly."

And for now, NowThis News is focusing on its social presence and effectively using Facebook and Twitter as their websites.

"We think of our Facebook page, more specifically the news feeds of the people who follow us on Facebook, and the feeds of people who follow us on Twitter, as our front page, as our front line, as the way that we publish and interact with people. It's not that we're doing that more, it's that we're doing that first and that's a primary importance.

"If you go to Facebook.com/nowthisnews right now you will have the best insight into NowThis News than anyone on the internet, regardless of which of our outposts they follow us on.

"Facebook and Twitter are our first social focuses, which means content is written to appeal to those sensibilities and make sense in those platforms, which means our production cycle is fast and responsive."

For right now we think to be of the social web you need to be out in it and we want to make those homes front and centre in the minds of our production staff, and of people who consume the contentDrake Martinet, NowThis News
He added: "For right now we think to be of the social web you need to be out in it and we want to make those homes front and centre in the minds of our production staff, and of people who consume the content."

And this approach is supported by the emergence of "social sharing" as "the new distribution", he said.

"You want people who are steadily interested in your content and you want to make it as easy as possible for them to get it in front of them in the way that makes the most sense to them.

"I think that making each individual piece of content an outpost for both your brand and the information that's in the video is the easiest way to do that because it means people can slice and dice anyway they want and they still get the value that they bring."

And this social distribution model will be reflected in the video style as well.

"Everything is designed to live its life and be distributed and shared through social. Which means that we respect the fact that people on social media consume a lot of content, and so we don't expect them to spend 20 minutes with us, not at least all at once.

"So everything is a minute to three minutes long, everything is very clear and to the point, and we try and insert some fun where we can."

He added that some of the content packages news events "as a little more light and fun" than straight news reporting, and while NowThis News is not comedy, "we also believe that news can also be interesting and enjoyable to watch and consume".

For now not too much detail is being shared on whether there are specific topics the video outlet will plan on focusing on.

But Martinet did say that the idea will be for its team members to "focus on covering a couple of topics that they also happen to be knowledgeable about and engaged about on social streams".

The company itself is a balance of roughly 50 per cent content and 50 per cent technology Martinet explained. Part of its aim is to make its content "feel 'of the web'", and this will be achieved through both content and technology.

"We're experimenting with different ways of not just talking about the internet from within the internet, but also bringing elements of it in. One of the things we're working on that I'm most impressed by are ways of making the internet native to our videos and letting users interact with the things we talk about in the videos."

For example, he explained, if a video contains a reference to pop-culture, "we should make it easy and native for you to find out more about that reference or go down that path from our content, as we should to serve you another video".

Therefore one of NowThis News's aims is to make its video player "a social experience as well".

"Just as we've fundamentally re-thought what does a video news company that publishes to social look like ... so too we can re-imagine our player and how videos deploy, and how users can interact with those videos and share from within the video and like entities that exist within the videos as well."

Currently the content is freely viewable, and Martinet said that "in these early days of our existence" the value is in "getting our content in front of people, and that means letting them view and share freely".

But NowThis News is "definitely focused on making a sustainable company", he added. "It's a tall order but it's something we think we've got a good mark on."

While further details on that are not available at this stage, he added that the way no pre-roll adverts feature in the videos is "an experience that we like a lot".

For now the company is hoping audiences will 'like' the company on Facebook and start seeing its content filter into their social streams.

"We're planning on it never being overwhelming, but we really want that feedback, we want to know 'hey this worked and this didn't'."

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