The Mirror’s Ampp3d and UsvsTh3m

Today’s the second recent new media launch for The Mirror. Ampp3d is following hot on the heels of UsvsTh3m.

Ampp3d, according to their Facebook page is “a topical, data-driven site from the Daily Mirror, making journalism more accessible through data visualisations”. Whilst UsvsTh3m makes “toys, games and quizzes”.

UsvsTh3m has been a real success. I’m not going to explain how and why it works, as Martin (who created it) has written a great post all about it here. Short version – starting from scratch, using a very light team and little corporate interference, they’ve created a new site that’s generating 7m users a month. This is particularly driven by very topical, funny games. Also, unlike newspapers where all the traffic comes from SEO, their traffic comes from social sharing. Only downside, their focus has been on audience rather than revenue, which mean’s there’s no monetisation in it currently. In my mind totally the right thing to do – I’d rather have a site up and launched with 7m users than one stuck in corporate hell, with no visitors, but a revenue plan.

What I  find interesting is how Ampp3d’s an evolved version of their first launch. Whilst, I’m sure this is partly demographic, it’s notable that:

  • The site runs off WordPress rather than Tumblr (less native virality but much more control)
  • It carries Mirror branding (on site and in the URL)
  • It carries banner ads from the start

Whilst I’m sure that banners aren’t really its main plan for monetisation – I’m sure that’ll be good old native content – getting them in early at least means you can decide whether to keep them later. Banner positions are also handy if you want to skin in sponsors of sections and such later on. Introducing commercial units later on can disappoint users – it’s good to set some expectations early.

The Mirror branding is probably confidence more than anything else. The first project was launched in 6 weeks, with a “if it doesn’t work in three months we’ll close it” attitude. At that point it was probably wise to distant itself from The Mirror. Now there’s more confidence and potentially a slightly less edgy proposition, it makes sense to add the branding for Ampp3d.

Hindsight’s clearly a wonderful thing, but I wonder that if they knew how much of a success UsvsTh3m was going to be, whether they would have changed any of the branding/monetisation decisions?

The best part of this story though, is look what can be achieved when a corporate finds good people and lets them get on with it. Plus the support you give them is the stuff your company’s good at – in this case The Mirror’s picture desk and duty lawyer!