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Global: Times starts Facebook group to drive subs

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The Times of London has started a Facebook group dedicated to discussing Brexit topics, as part of plans to win over future subscribers in a timely move prior to the snap election called this week by British Prime Minister Theresa May.

The News UK-owned newspaper began the Facebook group late last month after noticing a steady increase in comments on Brexit-related articles on its own sites.

People are encouraged to share information from around the web in the group, which is called “52|48,” the percentage split of leave and remain voters. The goal is to introduce new readers to The Times content, while allowing people to post polls, videos, charts and snippets of reader comments from articles that sit behind the paywall.

The Times’ team of five social media journalists take turns moderating and post to the group. The numbers are still tiny, with 180 members, but the calibre is high, and includes News UK’s political experts and editors.

“It’s about shortening the gap between those doing the reporting and the readers who we eventually want to make subscribers,” said Ben Whitelaw, head of audience development at The Times and The Sunday Times.

Washington Post drops vendors to speed up ads

Washington Post

The Washington Post has had to rethink its use of vendors in an effort to speed up its advertising.

As the Post has built on its own proprietary ad products, it has cut out several of the ad servers, ad builders, native-ad and video vendors it used to work with.

“We go to our partners and say, ‘This is how fast things need to be executed; if you don’t hit this threshold, we can’t put you on the site’,” Jarrod Dicker, the Post’s head of ad product and technology told Digiday. “We found that vendors we do use are ones that went back to their engineering teams and found out how to expedite their loads. … The vendors that haven’t been able to come to the table with faster solutions, we no longer integrate with.”

The Post declined to name which vendors it had dropped or share how many vendors it is currently working with. However, Mr Dicker said that over the past year, the publisher had decreased its reliance on vendors “significantly”.

Snapchat goes political with French election content

The Snapchat Discover homescreen featuring News.com.au at the top left
The Snapchat Discover homescreen featuring News.com.au at the top left

Snapchat Discover has become a tool for French voters seeking clarity and information on the national elections this weekend, taking a lead role in creating political content.

The platform, which has about 8 million daily users in France, is giving its domestic users a chance to submit questions of the main political candidates in the run-up to the first wave of elections on Sunday. Users can submit videos where they ask a specific question or can send in questions via messages.

Snapchat’s London-based Our Stories team selects the best questions and relays them to the candidates, who give their own video responses, which run on Discover France. Between 10 and 15 questions are posed, with each response taking about 10 seconds. Each video is about five minutes in length.

Centre-right candidate Francois Fillon was first up and a different candidate will be featured each day this week. It plans to run a geo-filter informing Snapchat users how they can vote even if they physically cannot be around on the day, and prompters reminding them the voting day is a few days away.

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