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The moment is now

Small companies usually follow in the footsteps of the big ones. Many newspapers around the world have started to develop premium content behind a paywall in order to attract readers' interest in their paid digital content.

Aamulehti, one of Alma Media Group's newspapers, launched this kind of online publication in mid-January. Hetki ('Moment'), the paid-for evening publication, appears online every weekday at 3.30 pm. In contrast to, for example, the Helsingin Sanomat paid-for online evening edition, Hetki is, as its name suggests, a compact package which aims to offer its readers a quick look at regional and national news and topics.

Hetki's format is always the same: every issue contains nine articles, the weather forecast and a short comic. All stories are specially written for Hetki, and they are usually far shorter than average newspaper articles. Hetki looks more airy than a printed paper, and articles are often accompanied by several images.

According to development manager Seppo Roth, the choice of a different concept was completely deliberate.

Reporters Tuukka Välimäki (left) and Tiina Vuorimäki and Development Manager Seppo Roth Aamulehti's digital newsroom.​

”Hetki is a publication with a clear beginning and end. In this sense it could not be further from the online newspapers' traditional strategies. We here at Hetki believe that our readers are satisfied when they finish the paper."

Aamulehti's Hetki is not available for subscription as a separate paid-for product but only as part of the newspaper's more comprehensive digital packages. Roth says that it has been discussed whether Hetki should also be launched as an independent paid-for application.

"Various newspapers in the world have experimented with this kind of limited access to content. So far they do not appear to have generated a great deal of revenue."

As on online-only publication, Hetki is a part of Aamulehti’s strategy to increase revenue from digital business. In Aamulehti, Hetki is peceived as one of its new flagship products, the target of which is to enhance the attractiveness of Aamulehti's paid digital packages. During Hetki's launch campaign more than 2,000 people decided to try the service.

"We're on target," confirms Roth.  

He says that another delightful consequence, on a par with the growth of subscription numbers, is the change in the Aamulehti office, triggered by the launch of Hetki.

"It has really opened the editorial staff's eyes to the 'digital-first' strategy. The implementation of the changes requires actions, not words."

The editorial staff have realised that it is liberating to work at Hetki as the conventions regarding print media, accumulated over the decades, do not restrict them.

"Suddenly, it seems that the most interesting articles can be found in Hetki. Its stories are short and simple, and making them feels like going back to the basics. Among the staff we now wonder if we make publishing the printed paper too difficult," says Roth.

The next reform is just around the corner

“We're in the process of a very purposeful development of our digital operations. The ship is turning”, said Seppo Roth, Development Manager at Aamulehti, when we asked him what the newspaper does to increase its digital business.

According to Roth, Aamulehti is investing in the development of new online advertising solutions, especially mobile, video, and native advertising solutions. It is equally important to ensure that Aamulehti's digital content meets consumer demands, while supporting the paper's efforts to increase profit from digital subscriptions.

As part of this project, Aamulehti introduced a paywall to its website over a year ago. The next big step in the development will be taken by Christmas, when the paper aims to complete both its customer relationship management system and its entirely new website. Roth says that both projects aim to enhance user experience.

“Even during the design phase we have been much more thorough in order to guarantee a great user experience. We learn from our mistakes.”