Jan Ippen was born into the world of traditional print media, but his early interest in computer science has led him down a different path. He still works in the German media corporation that bears his family name, where he has been the driving force behind turning a large group of small-to-medium-sized news brand into a united, digital success story. Here’s how they did it at IPPEN.MEDIA.
IPPEN.MEDIA is a German media company consisting of approximately 80 local news portals throughout Germany, offering news through local print newspapers, online portals, and radio stations across Germany. In fact, IPPEN.MEDIA’s various platforms reach one in two of all German internet users.
Jan Ippen, the founder and CEO of Ippen Digital, has been instrumental in building up the digital news publishing for IPPEN.MEDIA over the past years.
“We started out with a host of small-to-medium-sized papers; none of them had web portals that were any use, and they had various levels of expertise within the different companies. All in all, it was a very heterogeneous groups structure of independent newspapers. That would have to change, if we were to reap the benefits of going fully digital,” he said at CUE Days ‘22.
Disrupt and grow
“Our idea was to disrupt the mainstream structure and to think differently about the digital ecosystem. In fact, we decided the way forward was to build a new digital news ecosystem ourselves,” Ippen said. “First, we build a new platform. Then, we create a true network of content, people and resources. Then, we would ensure that data would always be at the core of everything we do. And finally, we needed a single source of truth for all content – and that would be CUE.”
Step one was to build the platform needed for the digital transformation, and there were three requirements for the project from day one: “We know it had to be a true multi-tenant platform, we know we had to think SEO from the very first line of code we wrote, and we know we had to make it headless, or we would not be able to go multichannel from the start,” Ippen said.
An ever-growing network
Second, it was vital to create a truly linked network: “Linking stuff is the core of the internet, so all articles and portals needed to be linked and connected, but there is another level: Connecting all the papers, all the editorial department, so that we could exchange best practice,” Ippen said “Network publishing was a way of reorganizing all our editorial services, and it was the way to go if we wanted to remove redundancies in the various news hubs. We needed an ever-growing system that enables us to scale – because scaling is so critical to us.”
CUE as the single source of truth
CUE is the most important part of the IPPEN.MEDIA ecosystem, Ippen pointed out. “Although we are self-hosted, we currently handle 27 million digital assets across 80 online publications. We use CUE as our single source of truth, and we route everything through CUE. We use it for editorial assistance such as automatic summaries, headline automation, link recommendations, auto keywording and a lot more,” Ippen said. “In the coming years, we will embrace more and more of the functionalities of CUE such as increased re-use of story elements and the expansion of suggestion functionality such as lead texts, summaries and teasers.”
IPPEN.MEDIA will also bring print into CUE for its 130+ publications with all content from one system and involving more than 1,000 users – something that Ippen expects to be a gamechanger.
The way to survival
The main message from Ippen to the audience at CUE Days 22 was clear: Local and regional news brand can survive if they go digital and embrace the idea of becoming part of a network of media with joint resources.
In a comment, Ippen said: “Small and medium-sized media brands can survive if they go digital-only. We know that print will be around for the next decade or so, but you need to be prepared – to have the size and the reach. And by joining a network you have the opportunity to be more than just a local block. You need the structure – and the strategy – to go digital-first, and if the leadership of a media company does not embrace a digital-first strategy, the answer is simple: Change the leadership.”