Lessons from a failed app are helping Norway’s VG reach young readers

2023-04-05. For most news publishers, Verdens Gang (VG) would seem to occupy a dream space. After all, nearly half of Norway’s population visits the Schibsted-owned VG’s site on a daily basis. Furthermore, the company transitioned to digital so early that their digital revenues first surpassed their print revenues more than a decade ago – in 2012. So, it would appear VG has nothing to worry about, right? Well, not quite.

Janni Frederiksen Kalafatis of Norway's Verdens Gang discusses how the publisher is trying to attract younger readers during WAN-IFRA's Digital Media India conference in March in New Delhi.

by Brian Veseling | April 5, 2023

When Janni Frederiksen Kalafatis, the User-Experience Lead at VG, took the stage at last month’s Digital Media India conference in New Delhi, he did something remarkable: He talked about a failed app aimed at younger readers that VG had discontinued three years after they launched it.

While everyone says you can learn as much – if not more – from your failures as your successes, few publishers tend to publicly address things they've tried that did not work and they've stopped doing.

Kalafatis’ discussion of the failed app, which was called Peil, clearly showed that not only had VG learned a lot from the experience but that there was a great deal other publishers could learn from it as well.
Taking action after a drop in young readers
The app had come about because, like all publishers, VG wanted to increase the number of its young readers today to help ensure that it has audiences for the future.

However, a few years ago, VG’s editors discovered the number of these young readers coming to them on a regular basis had dipped sharply compared with just three years before.

See also: VG recently took home top prizes in our Digital Media Europe Awards for Best Data Visualisation and Best Trust Initiative. Find out more and see who else won by clicking here.

Specifically, in 2013, VG had more than 300,000 daily readers between the ages of 18 and 25. By 2016, that number had fallen by about a third, to just over 200,000, Kalafatis said. While still an impressive amou...

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