The Telegraph expands its daily audio briefings to outlets beyond WhatsApp

After finding its daily audio news service on WhatsApp has built an audience and brought in subscribers, The Telegraph is expanding its availability to podcasting platforms and smart speakers.

Listeners can now access The Briefing through podcast distributors like Apple iTunes and Spotify as well as smart speakers such as Google Nest and Amazon Alexa. Since last summer, commuters have been able to opt in to receive from The Telegraph’s WhatsApp channel a two-minute radio bulletin-style message at 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. U.K. time, followed by a text message with links to articles.

The publisher said listeners to the WhatsApp briefing were 12 times more likely to subscribe to The Telegraph than other individuals who visit its homepage. Also, those who click on the article links have tended on average to read twice as many stories as other visitors. According to The Telegraph, “thousands” of people have signed up for the WhatsApp service.

“WhatsApp allows us to build communities that our most engaged audience love around subjects like politics, fashion and the arts,” said Karen Eccles, director of commercial innovation. “We are fairly agnostic about where we find our audience. The publisher said listeners of the WhatsApp briefing were 12 times more likely to subscribe to The Telegraph than other individuals who visit its homepage. We see engagement, and it makes sense to publish there. We then look to build out commercial opportunities in a relevant way.”

The Telegraph offers dozens of podcasts. Last week, it struck a deal with ad exchange Dax to run ads for its podcasts. The Telegraph also sells its own podcast advertising.

“There seems to be a real shift in demand from brands or agencies for our podcasting,” Eccles said. “It feels different from the usual shiny new thing that has to be on all briefs and plans. Everybody is thinking about it in a more thoughtful way — has to suit the creative message and product.”

Publishers like The Guardian, The Washington Post and The Financial Times have dabbled with providing WhatsApp channels only to later abandon them. Yet WhatsApp use for news purposes tripled over four years, according to the Reuters Digital News Report.

“The Telegraph has recognized that the idea — which is a short news briefing update to hit the morning and evening commute — needs to work cross-platform and not just be confined to WhatsApp,” said Nic Newman, author of the Reuters report.

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