Launched in 2015, KIT is a digital media company focused on high-quality journalism, but it was also founded on the basis that content consumption is shifting to distributed social platforms, Bonnier says.
Before starting KIT, he ran the digital business division at Bonnier Tidskrifter and has held marketing and digital media roles at Unilever and NBC Universal, among others.
In this interview, Bonnier, who will also be speaking at WAN-IFRA's upcoming Digital Media Europe conference in Copenhagen, explains how KIT operates, how they work with video and how they are using sponsored content.
WAN-IFRA: How would you describe KIT to someone who is not familiar with it, and what is its role in the digital media era?
Peder Bonnier: KIT is a new (2015) digital media company built on the premise that consumption of content is shifting to distributed social platforms.
KIT produces original news content and distributes this content across a variety of platforms. In a media landscape where distribution monopolies no longer prevail, increasing demands for quality are put on every individual piece of content.
There is no room for irrelevant or ”page-filling” content in a ruthlessly competitive distribution system of social feeds, search algorithms and content partnerships.
Core to this new reality is:
- Understanding why a certain story performs well, and
- Being able to use these insights in creating new stories. Understanding and applying these insights give structural advantages for publishers who create processes and build systems to support increasingly efficient storytelling. KIT seeks to do just this.
How many employees does KIT have, and what types of jobs are they doing?
We have 44 brilliant people working at KIT today, and most of them are journalists, creating and distributing unique content to our audience.
We also have a great team of developers who are creating our content and distribution platform, Story Engine.
On the commercial side, we have a sales team and a marketing team presenting our native advertising products to the market and Creative Studio where all our native advertising comes to life.
What are some of the factors that have helped you become a major player on the social video market in Sweden in less than two years?
Since we had no history in video when we started, we could be fully adaptive to the key aspects that make socially distributed video different from other forms of video:
- Autoplay: Our videos have to start automatically – and the messaging during the first second is crucial.
- Silence: When Facebook launched their silent autostart the audience quickly got used to the sound of silence. Our data also shows that 95% of all our video views happen without sound. This means that you have to tell your stories with text, illustrations and images.
- Aspect ratio: Historically, most video is shot in 16:9. But no one turns their phone to watch videos on social media. The majority of our videos are made in 1:1 or vertical 9:16.
The next step was to identify formats and today we work with 17 different video formats, like breaking news, explainers and tutorials.
We have since analyzed every single video published from a dramaturgical perspective to learn a best practice to maximise retention in every format.
Today we publish video in all our verticals and all our reporters can easily work with video.
How does Story Engine work and what are the results so far?
Story Engine is a unique data platform which collects editorial data from all content we publish in a number of different categories, e. g. “Intent,” “Objective” and “Tonality.”
All publishing to social platforms is done within Story Engine, to enable us to follow the whole data chain, from idea inception to distribution and gain insight in all stages.
Story Engine gives our journalists, and our clients, instant recommendations on how they should tell every story to get the effect they want.
The outcome of Story Engine is a better mapped editorial process, vastly more productive (read: better) content and a radically better understanding of how people react to certain kinds of storytelling.
The modular setup of our technology also allows us to create and run more steps of a content campaign within the same tool and with the data chain intact, this creates better and faster insight into what works for a client.
The iteration cycles can be drastically shortened, also since the controlled vocabulary allows us to give best practice recommendations based on all work that has previously been done, not just isolated to a specific campaign.
During our first year KIT has grown from 0 to 6,5 million weekly distributed reach. Since we launched our commercial products in March 2016 we’ve gone from 0 to 30 top tier advertisers on the platform.
KIT is focused on different aspects of native advertising. How does KIT Creative Studio work?
The creative process is quite unique at Creative Studio since all content creation is taking place in Story Engine.
From the first idea to the final reporting. We base all our content on data, which makes the ideation process incredibly structured and distinct.
This means that our editors can give our commercial writers and video producers extraordinarily clear instructions which ensures that we produce the most effective content.
When the time has come to publish the content, Story Engine helps us distribute to social platforms at the right time, the right place with the right messaging.
We distribute all our commercial content on Facebook using sponsored posts to make sure that we reach the target group our clients want to reach.
We are also extremely meticulous about labelling our sponsored content and we use every tool possible to clarify to our readers who the advertiser is.
What does Instant Articles mean for KIT?
Instant Articles is the embodiment of our philosophy at KIT, which is to be fully distributed by providing a great reading experience in the place where readers actually get their news. Before, a reader clicking a link and getting taken to a mobile site was a functional transaction.
It was fine, but what’s better than reading content on the platform itself? We started off designing KIT.se for the mobile phone, but once we got the option to actually publish directly to News Feed, we were adamant about joining.
You have attracted more than 300,000 followers in a short period of time. What are some of the things you're doing to build and engage your audience?
In this new, socially distributed media world everything depends on the quality of your content. If you manage to create the right content, your distribution will be extremely easy and effective, and your following will grow rapidly.
Our focus is always on the content – to consistently create the most relevant content to our audience. But we also take time to distribute in the smartest possible way, and we always make sure we distribute at the right time, with the right tonality to the right audience. This way we’re earning our audience’s attention, every day.