In 2008, Erie Times-News began its journey to be a local video powerhouse. For the next six years, the 127 year-old newspaper struggled with various video platforms and production approaches until 2014, when the company turned to Tout, a free video platform with a mobile video recording app. One of the driving factors in selecting Tout was the belief that the newspaper's reporters could effectively create video if given the right tools.
"When we decided we needed to try to get the reporters to start creating video themselves, it was very time consuming," said Rich Forsgren, Auduience Strategy and Technology Director for Go Erie, who led the evaluation and implementation. "This is where Tout has totally changed the paradigm."
The success of the Pennsylvania newspaper's video production strategy hinged on whether their reporters would embrace mobile video capture. Now, 18 months and thousands of videos later, the results are a resounding yes.
"You can go from shooting, to editing, to posting the video right from wherever you are," said Online Reporter Sarah Stemen about Tout. "It makes it so much more convenient and it really allows us to use our skill sets in a way we hadn't yet before." Within six months of adopting Tout, the Pennsylvania newspaper increased video production from two or three a week, to 200-250 a month.
"Tout has simplified everything for us,” said Matt Martin, Online News Editor. “Our workflow now is as simple as having a smartphone, shooting a video and adding some text." In addition to streamlining Erie Times-News’ video production process, Tout’s matching and insertion technology has automated video publishing to their online destination, GoErie.com.
"Tout automatically matches videos to articles that are on our site,” said Forsgren. “In a lot of cases there's no hands on work required to make videos match stories. As you can imagine, anything that creates efficiencies today is really valuable to us." By publishing substantially more local videos into articles and sections related to visitor interests, Erie Times-News has grown GoErie.com into one of Erie’s most prolific and trafficked destinations for local video reporting.
“In the year and half we've been using Tout, we've seen a ten-fold increase [per month] or a half-million views," said Martin. "And that doesn't even count third party views, that's just local views."
Critical to the paper’s bottom line, the increase in views has marched lockstep with increased revenue, as Tout has monetized Erie Times-News video by supplying advertising.
“The more video you have the more chance you have to sell pre-roll,“ said Martin. “An important thing that Tout brings to this is a back-fill of pre-sold advertising... and that's where we're actually generating our revenue."
Unlike other platforms that charge publishers based on the number of video streams and video data stored, Tout operates on a revenue-share basis. The Times-News has benefited from Tout’s unique business model, enabling them to make video a profit center—something few print publications have been able to accomplish.
“We went from spending $24,000 a year to spending nothing with Tout,” said Forsgren. “With the increased video views that we’re getting from Tout, we’re actually monetizing now, where as before it was a deficit.”
“I don’t think we’ve hit the ceiling yet,” said Stemen. “Our audience continues to gobble it up.”
“As we continue to produce more video, the numbers exponentially go up," said Forsgren. "Whether it's a news story, a feature story, a sports story, to me it's what the web is about--everybody knows it's going to video and the fact we're out there and doing it is important for the company."