“A pure player that also edits a newspaper” is how Olivier Bonsart, president of 20 Minutes described the company in 2014, and while the brand made its debut with the free newspaper launched in 2002 the publisher has always stayed one step ahead of the game in digital. That approach has brought some big rewards, notably in the elusive youth audience where it is the number one press brand in France for the 18-30 age group.
Key to that reach is the title's understanding of mobile: it launched a mobile version of the site back in 2008. Winoc Coppens, Chief Information Officer at 20 Minutes in France, told Editorial Days 2017 that “56 per cent of our audience is mobile – more than l'Euipe, Le Monde, or Le Figaro.”
That mobile reach is closely tied to social media (more than a third of 20 Minutes audience comes from social media) and the publisher has dedicated social teams to keep the information flowing across those networks.
“We have one hundred journalists working on the basis of mobile first, then the front page, social media, and then print. We even have separate newsrooms for the front page the social team, and the print team.”
The development team at 20 Minutes works with the Scrum methodology which accepts that customer demands have to be adapted to on the fly: a challenge that means very close coordination and collaboration.
“We constantly test and learn using the Scrum methodology with small projects that enable us to be very reactive. When journalists need a new functionality we can deliver it in a very short time.”
As part of that the 20 Minutes approach also embraces APIs and the cloud. “We are API based and Desk-Net's APIs have made it very easy for us to integrate. We also believe that everything will be in the cloud and that's where you have to be if you want innovation. Last month, for example, we introduced read-aloud articles on Alexa so you can have 20 Minutes read to you thanks to the Amazon cloud.”
Asked about what projects his team is currently working on Winoc Coppens points to Artificial Intelligence “because the job of the journalist will become more like that of a pilot on a modern airliner – they will be in a position to input directly or activate automated 'flight' mode.
Right now the journalist enters an article and automatically we start searching the CMS for matching video and content as well as which hashtags perform best for that topic across social networks.”
That interface between the journalist's article and the CMS is where Desk-Net comes in explained Coppens: “Desk-Net is integrated with the CMS so content is automatically pulled from the CMS and that information displayed in Desk-Net with the published/time/platform data so we have an overview of all activity”.
That overview means that the team in Toulouse can see all the content planned and published across all 11 editions of 20 Minutes France from their Desk-Net interface and a mobile-first article preview helps ensure that the publisher continues to keep ahead of the following pack.
You can see Winoc Coppens' full prentation here