Innovative Advertising Blog: The Gazette’s Hockey Inside Out app scores with readers

Each month, Newspapers Canada spotlights newspaper innovation by inviting newspaper representatives from across the country to contribute to our Innovative Advertising Blog. In this edition, Sean Duckett, business development manager , digital at The Gazette, provides an inside look into The Gazette’s Hockey Inside Out app.

As most Canadians do, Montrealers love their hockey. Love may not even be the right word. Obsession often seems a better way of explaining our relationship with the sport and our team, the Montreal Canadiens.

So when we at The Gazette, Montreal’s only English daily newspaper, decided to aggregate all of our Canadiens content onto one web site, Hockey Inside Out, our readers visited in droves. The site quickly took on a life of its own, where Gazette reporters and columnists Mike Boone, Dave Stubbs, Pat Hickey, and Sports Digital Editor Kevin Mio became more popular with fans than P.K. Subban (ok that may not be possible).

When surveyed by Leger Marketing, 82% of visitors who owned a smart phone expressed interest in The Gazette developing an HIO app, and we were more than happy to oblige.

In April 2011, The Gazette introduced the Hockey Inside Out App for iPhone in association with the Quebec Subaru Dealer Association. Since then, it has gained over 12,000 new users and currently has a 4 ½ out of 5-star rating on iTunes.

App users have mobile access to content such as last night’s game stats, video of post-game interviews with players from the dressing room, Puck Casts of audio offerings from the HIO editorial team, and one of the most popular features, Boone’s Blog, a live play-by-play in blog format by Mike Boone.

One of the main goals of the app was to encourage reader engagement with content. Boone’s Blog regularly receives over 1,000 user comments and the HIO community, both visitors and Gazette writers, has taken its interaction offline, meeting annually to watch a game over a beer.

Another great success we had with our sponsor, the Quebec Subaru Dealer Association, who was looking to associate their brand with premier hockey content. In associating the brand with the launch of the app, the advertiser enjoyed major visibility in all promotional efforts, and continues to gain value with their dominant positioning within the app.

Chalk this up in the “win” column.