News Limited Stays Competitive: Publishes News in Less Than 90 Seconds, Increases Editorial Staff Productivity by 200%, Surpasses Subscription Expectations
 
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News Limited Stays Competitive: Publishes News in Less Than 90 Seconds, Increases Editorial Staff Productivity by 200%, Surpasses Subscription Expectations

News Limited is one of Australia’s largest media companies, with interests in newspaper and magazine publishing, internet, pay TV, and film and television production. The company publishes seven metropolitan and 136 regional and community newspapers across Australia in print and digital formats, as well as the news.com.au and foxsports.com.au sites. Its News Life Media segment produces magazines, such as GQ, Vogue Australia, and related digital sites. News Limited is wholly owned by News Corporation, a diversified, global media company.

In 2009, News Limited realized a need to overhaul its publication systems and processes to remain competitive in the digital age, particularly to provide content designed for mobile devices and to introduce new services, such as paywalls for premium content. The company’s ageing content management system could not support rapid publication—a critical competitive advantage in the news industry—nor could it be used to develop new digital sites quickly and cost-effectively.

After implementing Oracle WebCenter Sites as its new digital content management platform, News Limited can now publish stories in less than 90 seconds, compared to 15 minutes in the past. The company has also added new features, such as story and gallery wizards and intelligent, internal search and automated editorial-content enhancement functions that have increased the quality of content, surpassing expectations for greater customer satisfaction and higher subscription numbers. In addition, Oracle WebCenter Sites supported new initiatives, such as a premium-content paywalls and content that is customized for mobile devices.

 
Digital Age Demands Faster, More Efficient Content Creation

A word from News Limited

  • “We chose Oracle WebCenter Sites over products, such as Vignette and Adobe, because of Oracle’s fast, content-building features, especially when creating foundations for digital sites. We can now meet internal service level agreements to publish content in less than 90 seconds and have increased the productivity of editorial staff by 200%.” – Jason Brock, Technology Manager, News Limited

In the past few years, the newspaper industry has undergone a seismic change, moving from print to digital as the most popular way to distribute content. The number of customers using mobile devices to access news stories also increased. News Limited averages around 700 million page impressions across its Oracle WebCenter Sites-powered news sites and attracts up to 3.5 million unique browsers each month.

To support the move into digital content, News Limited had to ensure that its editorial staff could publish material quickly and efficiently. However, its ageing content management system was not user friendly, having a convoluted publication process that impeded the company’s ability to break news before its competitors.

“We would see publishing queues—the stories lined up for publication—collapsing under the old system,” said Jason Brock, technology manager, News Limited. “Often, we would publish a story, and it would appear in some parts of the Website but not others because we had a cumbersome process for flushing old content, taking between 10 and 15 minutes for new content to propagate across all our Websites.”

 
New Content Published in Less Than 90 Seconds

 
Stories Created in Six, Quick Clicks, Subscriptions Increased

 
Scalable System Supports More Content and User Requests

 
More Efficient Syndication Process

 
New Sites Created in Four Weeks Instead of Four Months

 
Improved Version Control

 
Paywall for Premium Content

 
Catering for Mobile Content Users

 
Future Improvements to Enhance Content Creation

 
 

 
 

Challenges

  • Replace an ageing content management system that was difficult and expensive to support
  • Improve the process and speed to refresh Websites with new or existing content from print publications or newswires
  • Provide publication tools to easily enhance the quality of news stories
  • Meet targets for digital content subscriptions
  • Support growing volumes of user content requests and staff users
  • Improve ability to syndicate content and associate it with specific news and lifestyle sections or sites
  • Minimize time and effort for testing and developing new digital properties
  • Launch a paywall for premium news and introduce content for mobile devices

Solutions

  • Supported 250 editorial staff working concurrently and met service level agreements to enable publishing in less than 90 seconds, instead of 15 minutes, previously
  • Increased editorial staff productivity by 200% with content creation workflows for faster news story creation, approval, and publishing
  • Supported more than 52,000 content requests per second during peak times, surpassing the nearest competitor and leading the market for monthly page-impressions
  • Reduced time needed to create new Website sections by 75%—from four months to four weeks
  • Enabled new stories to be picked up from print publications or wire feeds and printed online in five or six mouse-clicks
  • Enhanced news content quality with a wide range of text, images, and videos, and new features, such as gallery-creation wizards, to supplement content and provide a rich storytelling experience for readers
  • Exceeded digital content subscription targets and increased reader satisfaction with high-quality, up-to-the-minute content
  • Scaled to support increasing numbers of concurrent users, such as when regional mastheads are moved to the new digital content management platform
  • Enabled a centralized editorial team to quickly create, redeploy, and propagate content across various Websites by creating clones of individual properties and changing page layouts without the IT team’s help
  • Made it easier to build and test new sites by developing local versions that are later added to a centralized code base
  • Cut the time and costs associated with developing a premium content paywall, becoming one of the first companies in the Australian media market to accomplish this
  • Enabled editorial staff to flag stories as premium content and to report on the volume of premium content and the percentages of premium and free content
  • Managed access to paid content by integrating identity and subscription management components into the digital content management platform
  • Simplified product development and support for mobile and multichannel properties by using a single platform for mobile and desktop content

Why Oracle

News Limited considered a number of top-tier content management products, including Vignette and Adobe before choosing FatWire, which was acquired by Oracle in 2011 and renamed Oracle WebCenter Sites.

“What really got our attention were the solution’s site-building features, particularly the speed at which we could copy properties and build the basic foundations of properties,” said Brock.

The company also upgraded to Oracle Database, Enterprise Edition 11g and implemented Oracle Database Gateway for ODBC. The Oracle Database contains 10 years of data.

“By consolidating on the Oracle stack, we have access to people who understand our infrastructure,” said Brock. “For example, by using Oracle Database Gateway for ODBC—a code that sits between the Tomcat server container and Oracle Database—we can go to Oracle and say we want to tune our infrastructure from the database right up to the content servers, and we know that it will happen.”

Implementation Process

News Limited started implementing Oracle WebCenter Sites in 2009 and went live in mid-2010. According to the research firm Gartner, it was the largest Web content management project in the southern hemisphere. The first Website to go live on the new platform was the Daily Telegraph site, followed by the remaining six metropolitan and four regional mastheads, and the news.com.au and foxsports.com.au properties.

“We think News Limited has the largest footprint for Oracle WebCenter Sites, globally, and I’ve absolutely no hesitation in saying that we have asked this product to do more than any other Oracle customer on the planet,” said Brock. “We have pioneered a raft of innovations that have now been incorporated into the core product that Oracle provides.”

News Limited also worked with Oracle Consulting to tune the Oracle Database. “The Oracle Consulting team was very responsive to our issues,” said Brock. “We worked with skilled engineers to stabilize the system and ensure it was rock-solid and reliable.”

Advice from News Limited
When it comes to transformational programs, try to solve the problem as simply as possible because it will minimize the amount of risk you will deal with once you put your solution or product out in to the market. The faster you can reduce risk and implement change, the further the lead you’re going to have over your competitors.

Partner

News Limited worked with Oracle Partners Next Digital and Ericsson to implement Oracle WebCenter Sites. Next Digital helped News Limited to set up the platform, stabilize it, and roll out the metropolitan mastheads.

“We were happy with Next Digital’s work on the project,” said Brock. “It was a significant project with high stakes, and the team delivered for us.”