The challenge: Better serve communities at the hyperlocal level
With local news increasingly challenging from a cost and resource perspective and disappearing at a quickening pace, Torstar needed a new, scalable and sustainable approach to serving local communities, or risk losing them to encroaching news deserts and/or global digital giants.
The solution: Funding from Google and partnering with Innocode
Being selected as a winner of the Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge enabled Torstar to reach out to Innocode, leveraging the Norwegian company’s innovative and highly scalable technology platform. Torstar Local was established as a test-and-learn project aimed at quickly launching new, mobile-centric, “Locals”, each serving their communities with a mix of local news and community-generated content, all personalized for the individual user using Innocode’s personalization engine.
The results: 10 hyperlocal launches in less than a year - rapidly growing adoption and usage
The goal of launching 10 hyperlocal news brands in less than a year was achieved - with time to spare. The number of app downloads increased rapidly, and traffic grew substantially, while social media, a key driver of traffic, also grew dramatically. In the second half of 2020, the 10 Torstar Local Facebook pages more than doubled the number of followers and tripled average weekly interactions. All of this was achieved with very limited staffing: One full-time general manager, part-time local community coordinators, freelance journalists, and commission-based local sales professionals.
We have been working with the Innocode team for the past year on a new strategic initiative and we have found them to be wonderful partners. The team rises to our challenges, is agile in responding to new information, and is very collaborative in developing solutions that both meet our strategic needs and continue to advance the Innocode platform.