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GRANASA: a ground-breaking adaption of popular journalism to the web in record time
EXTRA, the newspaper with the highest circulation in Ecuador, captivates the market with its simple and innovative structure and ‘look & feel’.

Located in the industrial city of Guayaquil, GRANASA (Gráficos Nacionales, S.A.) is an Ecuadorian publishing house founded in 1973 by a graduate, Galo Martínez Merchán. Its principal activity is publishing two newspapers - EXTRA and Expreso - as well as printing newspapers and magazines. These days the company is still owned by the family and is managed by Doctor Galo Martínez Leiske, the founder´s son.

Expreso has made its name nationally as a general newspaper and through the print and online services that it provides. Its daily print run is 20,000 copies and it has an Online Club for Subscribers that offers discounts and benefits in almost all commercial sectors. Of special social importance is the organization of the Competencia Atlética race, that has been run continuously for the last 42 years, attracting about 20,000 participants.

For its part, EXTRA is the leading popular newspaper in Ecuador with a circulation exceeding 100,000 copies per day.

Innovation and a desire to use advanced technological infrastructure have always been in GRANASA’s DNA. In fact, in 2000 it became the first Latin American client to choose Protecmedia’s MILENIUM solution to modernize its newsroom and editorial production procedures.

It also pioneered the integration of the first generation of Web CMS developed by Protecmedia, called MILENIUM Web, that made possible a bi-media newsroom in a scenario of convergence, versatility and high productivity.

When tablets and smartphones emerged, the company did not lag behind either. It launched its own digital newsstands and offered the whole portfolio of its products to its readers and advertisers.

How to publish tabloid contents to the web. That was main challenge.

But the digital world does not stop. The growth of social networks, the emergence of new ways of sharing and disseminating information and interacting with audiences required a fresh approach to the corporate strategy in order to redefine workflows and continue integrating effectively all these new possibilities into the multi-media and multichannel newsrooms. The first stage was carried out by launching Expreso’s updated website at the beginning of the summer of 2016, based on Protecmedia’s ITER Web CMS solution.

But the real challenge of the whole project was to find an adequate strategy to put online the language of popular journalism found in EXTRA. The format and ways of narrating this type of content required a more profound editorial analysis in order to provide the best visual formula and structure of the web map and navigation that would correspond to the profile of the reader of this kind of publication.

Marcos Vaca, Digital Contents Manager at GRANASA, summarises the goals pursued from the editorial, organisational, publishing and technological points of view:

To distinguish the contents of the offline platform from its online counterpart in order to create a multimedia and multiplatform wave of news.

To generate the integration processes of the EXTRA newsroom with the aim of making journalists start on a learning curve in terms of multimedia journalism.

To analyse audiences (their behaviour and needs) in order to create the content the reader is looking for and to show new contents that would make it possible to attract other sorts of communities, thus increasing both editorial weight and audiences.

“We want to be among the 10 most viewed digital media in the country and generate a commercial relationship with an average of 10 monthly clients - both large-scale clients and those at the bottom of the commercial pyramid.”

To design a website that would understand the ¨user´s experience¨. The process went from statistics to content, from content to design, from design to implementation and from implementation to the creation of content.

In this regard, it was decided to create a responsive website to ensure a consistent experience for the user on all possible media.

To create a constant laboratory of new narratives for GRANASA.

To search for an attractive advertising model for the clients.

The project team created by GRANASA and led by the Digital Content Manager started work on 1 June.

During the first month, the work mainly focused on analysing audiences and their behaviour. This contributed to the debate on the editorial model - with its pros and cons - that needed to be adopted. At the same time, a series of training courses on digital journalism mainly for editors were organized.

“Expanding the debate of the journalistic, commercial and even design model is the key to success. It is important to have more external points of view to get inspired by ideas that have already been tested.”

The model to be used, the style of contents and the design look & feel were structured in July. In the middle of that month, the Digital Content Manager explained to Protecmedia the conclusions reached and the design they were looking for. Protecmedia made a counter proposal which involved using the elements of the Responsive Templates Catalogue that could be adapted to meet GRANASA’s expectations and which would speed up the implementation of the project.

The project required some new functionalities. Protecmedia looked for solutions for 80% of them and the rest were postponed until the next stage. In addition, the company worked on the structure of an advertising strategy through sections.

The new EXTRA website was launched on 31 August. In barely a month the project’s main technical needs had been solved.

The first data obtained after the launch of the new website are encouraging:

Extra.ec is currently 159th in Alexa’s ranking in Ecuador, up from 346th in June.

In the world ranking, it rose to 105,301st from 165,527th in June.

The number of unique visitors has doubled compared to June.

The number of viewed pages has also doubled from 2,792,437 in June to 4,114,191 in September.

“For us this renewal has been about how to create a website that is in constant editorial and commercial development. The idea is to create a sustainable journalistic model that in the long run will enable convergence with other platforms.”

The total time spent on the website has doubled to 5 minutes.

The most-read items belong to entertainment and society, confirming the validity of the prior analysis.

The use of video in news items increases the time spent in them.

The average number of characters used in the main news items is 1,500.

There were no viral topics among the most read news stories in September.

The groundbreaking structure of the website (with few sections) and a home page similar to that of Pinterest have aroused the curiosity of its competitors.