First birthday candle

Access via mobile devices, including tablets, grew to 48 per cent in first eight weeks of 2013

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It was a year ago this week when ITV News made a significant mark in the world of live digital news with the launch of its new website, which set out to offer its audience "something different".

This includes content driven by a 'stream' of time-stamped news updates, delivered to the audience in a range of formats from video and full articles to more snippet-style content such as key quotes and social media content.

Just a few months in a number of lessons were already clear, with the team gaining greater understanding about how different stories worked best in the stream format.

Now, one year after launch and with the team well-settled into the "rolling multimedia newsroom" environment, the broadcaster has been able to report some significant hikes in traffic.

According to figures released yesterday on the one-year anniversary of the launch, in January the site recorded 3.9 million unique browsers, which represents an increase year-on-year of 518 per cent.

Also, across 2011, prior to the launch of the new site, it had an average of 711,000 unique browsers a month, which rose to 2.2 million last year, the year of the new site launch.

The figures also report that mobile devices, including tablets, made up 30 per cent of the unique traffic in the eight weeks following the site launch, and has now risen to 48 per cent in the first eight weeks of this year.

ITV News stream March 2013

Speaking to today, editor, web, for ITV News Jason Mills said a "key development" over the past year has been in editorial.

"It's about continuous updating," he said. "It's about really delivering what we know right now and it's about speed. I think we didn't realise just how fast it was but now we're pretty confident of beating any other website to a story, certainly in terms of something breaking.

He added that establishing how the site would be managed and preparing new workflows in the newsroom was taken care of prior to launch, and that the last year has been more about "really honing" these processes.

"The real challenge", he said, has been about moving "away from being simply a fixed TV bulletin service and saying you're now a rolling multimedia newsroom".

I think we didn't realise just how fast it was but now we're pretty confident of beating any other website to a story, certainly in terms of something breakingJason Mills, ITV News
"So therefore you need to understand what you can give at any particular time to whichever outlet, be that the web or be that the TV, needs your information, needs your content, needs your story.

"That's the big challenge and that's been good and I think people have really grasped that and I think they've really understood that they now have two outlets for their stories, for their news.

"The polished, considered bulletins being national or regional and the rolling news channel that fills in the gaps and tells news at it happens. And really making that change in the newsroom is the biggest challenge."

Key training needs were also seen to before the launch of the site, but further training has been ongoing, he said.

"We've been on a continuous process of working with people as its continued and I'm just finishing a process of going round each region offering specific training to people. So we continue to take people through it as it's gone on."

In light of the latest traffic figures reported by ITV News, Mills said a key to the success has been delivering "something different".

"I think we got it right. I think we've made it very very simple to use, we've made it platform-agnostic so people can get it anywhere and a lot of our traffic is mobile now. And I think we've offered something different to what the other major providers are offering".

And as well as standing out from the crowd, supported by the new site the past year has seen the broadcaster able to "cover many more stories than ITV would have traditionally covered".

"We can cover as many stories as we frankly want to and can do physically, so yes our story sources really started changing.

"We do get stories from Twitter and we will do them and they can be very very popular indeed actually and also stories from other social media.

"The key thing is though that editorially all the stories we do, it's not that they wouldn't be on a news programme ... we still maintain the same editorial standards, it's just that our breadth and our reach is much wider."

He added that the online output works well in tandem "with the fixed bulletin programme", which can "offer a nice summary of the day" on top of the updating news stories presented online.

Over the past year developments on the site have included the area of "personalised streams", with the introduction of "tailored streams" for regional areas on top of the main feed.

Looking ahead Mills said he hopes the platform will continue to be developed "on an iterative basis".

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