Herald hosts 10 three-minute docos, aims to keep mobile eyes fixed

In the age of vines and five-second films, the 15 minutes of a YouTube-hosted documentary seems like a veritable viewing mountain. So, in an effort to keep the decreasing attention spans of its growing digital audience interested, APN’s online publishing team has penned a one-off partnership with filmmakers Loading Docs to host a series of ten three-minute documentaries on the NZ Herald website.

While the hosting layout on the site appears akin to the creation of a new content hub that could be updated periodically with new videos, APN’s digital editor-in-chief Jeremy Rees says that at this stage it’s only a single deal to give exposure to the series created by Loading Docs.

He did however add that the bite-sized nature of the documentaries provided a great fit for the Herald’s platform.

“We do love the idea of three-minute docos. They fit the Herald brand. They are just what we do – tell great New Zealand stories – and they are fit for mobile, the most rapidly growing audience. Plus they were great film-making,” he says.

Over the last year, the Herald’s mobile audience has increased from 972,000 visitors per month to 1.2 million. Previously, Nielsen had been undercounting the Herald’s mobile traffic due to a coding error, but this has now been corrected.

Rees says that the APN team showed no hesitancy when given the opportunity to provide mobile visitors with high quality video footage that could be consumed in short time.

“When Ann Jackson and Julia Parnell of Loading Docs approached us about running the short films we were really excited. We said yes straight away,” he says.

“Nzherald.co.nz/loadingdocs launched several months ago and has ramped up over the last fortnight with the launch of the Loading Docs short films around New Zealand.”

Jackson and Parnell received funding through the New Zealand Film Commission and NZ On Air’s Ignite Digital Media Fund, and the Herald was then brought on to deliver it to as wide an audience as possible.

The project was initially launched through a crowd-funding campaign hosted on pledgeme.co.nz, and each of the ten films were produced earlier this year by ten filmmakers working in the industry.

The lineup of films includes projects by Joel Kelafi (whose work includes Lorde’s video for Royals), Alex Sutherland (the founder of Thick as Thieves), Loom Films and Zoe McIntosh (also of Thick as Thieves and winner of a Cannes Lion). 

The Herald is currently monetising the initiative by running pre-rolls before each of videos.

Rees says that initiatives like these could potentially open the door to future content marketing opportunities, in the sense that clients could commission the creation of content to be hosted on the Herald (or on any of APN’s other media properties).

“It’s something we would definitely look at. Content marketing is a big part now of the NZ Herald mix and video would fit well,” he says.

Regardless of whether the content-marketing potential of the initiative is realised, Rees says that he hopes to see more of this kind of content on the Herald.

“I hope it continues in the future. When we did a special showing in the Herald newsroom for the documentaries, we had reporters clapping for each great film. It was a great moment.”

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