NetNuus - bite sized news and snackable ads - by MJ Lourens

15 May 2017

MJ Lourens is the editor of NetNuus – the most popular Afrikaans news app in South Africa. He has more than six years’ experience in digital media and editing, which includes time at Volksblad, OFM radio and News24. Lourens holds a degree from the North-West University and is a part-time law student at Unisa. He shared these insights about NetNuus with media agencies country-wide as part of Ads24’s latest roadshow: #inroADS24.

NetNuus (JustNews), launched last June, is like an espresso, its short, its quick and it’s got punch. It’s news in 250 characters with pictures and videos. There are 100 posts in the stream and it takes about five minutes to read the entire stream.

Where did it all start?

The concept of NetNuus came from our “big” sister company in the Naspers stable, Tencent, the internet giant based in China. We remodeled it for the local Afrikaans market. The name NetNuus originated from an app that Tencent created: News Headlines. The app features “just news” headlines in short with a major focus on video.

Afrikaans speakers are very loyal once they know you

It was a challenge introducing the NetNuus app to the Afrikaans market as it was a product they didn’t know that they wanted or needed. The great thing about this market is that even though it might be hard to break into with a new product, once Afrikaans people know your brand they are incredibly loyal.

We went back to basics and asked, “What do all South Africans have in common? We LOVE to braai” - especially the Afrikaans segment. Whether there’s a rugby game, just a Saturday or for no specific reason other than being social – “ons gaan nóú braai.” We set out to share news bites that you could share at a braai if you “praat die taal”. We shared everything, good news, bad news, just like you would at a braai. We used a colloquial tone with a touch of humour (if the content allows it) and took out all the pretentiousness. Afrikaans speakers mostly have a sense of humour and are generally pretty down to earth.

What do we actually do?

We’re building an Afrikaans audience that is interested in keeping up with current events, who want to read some good news too and to know what’s hot on social media.“I have 5 mins to kill, entertain and inform me.”

In our current society we are always fighting for time and this app gives as much useful information as possible to keep you informed (and sound intelligent at a braai) in five minutes, while being entertaining at the same time.

We’re taking a journey with every single user of NetNuus, providing them with what they need to know and want to know. Our mission is to be in touch with what is happening and relevant in our readers’ lives.

Visuals and video

Our content can be divided into four segments:

• One content stream
• Comments, reactions and sharing
• Native ads
• Video

We are a visual first medium with our ads taking the same format as content, except that they have a bold headline and can click through to more content or external sites. Our editorial has to be succinct, informative and witty as you don’t click for more content. We provide very carefully crafted and curated news content that has the appearance of being effortless – at least it should be effortless for readers to consume their news in their mother tongue. We are aiming for 40% video content by the end of the year.

Baby boomers and millennials

When we conceptualised this exciting new project we were aiming for millennials. Paradoxically the majority (over 50%) of our readers are over 50, the next biggest segment is 40 to 49 year olds then 30 to 39 year olds and the 18 to 29 year olds take the smallest piece of the pie-chart. We are dispelling myths about age and online engagement. However, it’s probably the same pattern that most news outlets have – unless they’re very focussed in delivering just to a millennial market.

Getting engaged

We have 31 000 daily active users and 71 000 monthly active users. We get 25 000 comments, 110 000 reactions, 150 000 ad clicks and four million ad impressions per month. NetNuus has a very high frequency of return from readers, the average user visits the app 32 a month, even though there are at most only 31 days. The highest viewing rates are for: topical ads, easy DIY, weight and new stuff. If there’s one thing that is clear from NetNuus, it’s that the audience is highly engaged. There is roughly, on average, 1.2million clicks to read comments (per month) within the app.

There are a number of advertising options available (through Ads24) on the app such as native in-stream video or images with a heading and blurb, a screen splash and app stream header sponsorship and a quick question in-stream survey with an accompanying image. NetNuus is still a baby and other formats might evolve, like branded emojis that can be added to the reaction feature. We will keep growing and evolving to cater for our extremely loyal, yet critical, audience.

What in the World of News

Click here to watch Ad24’s video series “What in the World of News” interview with MJ Lourens in which he looks at key shifts in the media landscape and how publishers are experimenting with new platforms. News will be around forever, according to Lourens, and it’s about “who is disrupting what”. He mentions NetNuus having recently won a Bookmark Award and discusses how its frequency of return is the highest of any news app.



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Ads24 is part of the Media24 Group representing 97 newspaper titles. From Dailies to Sunday papers to locals, Ads24 reaches almost every target segment in South Africa, no small achievement in such a diverse country. The most exciting element is how these titles become part of the community that Ads24 serves.

A news reader is an engaged reader. Ads24 news brands play an important and unique role in the daily lives of their readers. Ads24 sees beyond the numbers, beyond the market segments, to connect with the people on a personal level. Ads24 has the stats, the numbers, but also the insights.



Issued on behalf of Ads24 by Stone Soup Public Relations
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