News, region, video and fun in one single app
As the name suggests, the Kubus app (the cube app) consists of different faces or worlds. Readers can swipe from one face to the other. “The concept of the ‘cubes’ – turning between different worlds – is unique and innovative,” says Katrijn Vrints, Group Brand Manager Newsmedia. “Most news apps look the same. With the Kubus app we distinguish ourselves from the rest.”
Dimitri Antonissen, Editor-in-Chief of Het Laatste Nieuws, gives a demonstration of the Kubus app. The first world is HLN’s news offer, a familiar face for the readers. “When you ‘cube’, the second world of video appears, showing both news and entertainment, imagine videos of showbiz programs or cooking videos.”
The third world gathers all the news from the reader’s region. “We now respond even faster to the regional news, which is also immediately available on the smartphone.”
At first glance, Fun, the fourth world, looks very recognizable to the reader. Here you find classic, sudoko and crossword puzzles, just like in the newspaper. But also quizzes or games such as Cut The Rope.
“It is really our ambition to make the Kubus app nothing less than the most used app in Belgium.”
Dimitri Antonissen, Editor-in-Chief of Het Laatste Nieuws
News and entertainment
430,000 people use the HLN app every day and the ambition is high. By the end of the year, there must be 600,000. “With the Kubus app we want to generate a large growth on mobile. HLN is the new brand for the rapid news updates, even for loyal De Standard subscribers or hardened VRT viewers”, explains Antonissen. “On news days we are the leading news brand, but at the same time our readers allow us to combine it with showbiz articles, games and videos. Our readers not only find the need to know important but also the fun to know.”
HLN has a unique position in this. “We are available for our consumers at any time of the day,” says Vrints. “When you are standing at the coffee machine, just for a minute or so, you can check what is happening in the world. You are not only informed, but you can also relax, it is a unique combination.”
By adding those other worlds, readers stay longer on the app. “The commitment increases because they will consume news as well as play games or watch videos,” according to Vrints. “By linking the entertainment part to it, you are addressing a new group of consumers.”
For the development of the app, HLN was able to learn a lot from the Kubus app launched by the Dutch newspaper AD. The app looks different, but the engine is the same.
The biggest concern was the existing HLN app. “To launch a new sports car, it is tempting to start from a blank canvas. But the existing app is the most successful in Belgium and you have to treat it with a lot of care because you do not want to destroy something that works so well,” explains Antonissen.
Defining the other worlds was also well thought through. Where does HLN stands for and how can this be implemented on the different faces of the cube? “The four worlds are close to HLN’s DNA. And, by the way, we are not limited to those four faces of the cube, we can further expand to five or six worlds,” says Antonissen.
With the Kubus app, HLN manages to break through the limitations of a traditional app . “In the current app you only have one canvas in which you try to cram everything. That makes it sometimes very tight. The Kubus app literally creates more space to show other aspects besides the core of the news in a nicer and better way. This is a giant step forward,” says Vrints.
For advertisers it also offers many new possibilities. “For example, a supermarket can come up with a game where the reader has to fill shelves. That is a nicer ad for the reader than the classic banner ad. Thanks to video we can also advertise with pre-rolls and mid-rolls. Finally, we create a fantastic world for regional advertisers. Now we are able to offer our advertisers much more space than the traditional ad positions.”
“In de huidige app heb je maar één canvas. De Kubus-app creëert ruimte om naast de kern van nieuws andere aspecten mooier en beter te tonen. Dat is een grote sprong vooruit.”
Katrijn Vrints, Group Brand Manager Nieuwsmedia
The new TV screen becomes mobile
HLN launches the app in April. Dimitri Antonissen is especially curious about the readers’ reactions. “The Kubus app is just the beginning. Based on the feedback we can adjust or add worlds. The big advantage is that we no longer have to launch an app every few years, since we now have a platform that we can always improve and expand every time with worlds that are interesting both for the company and for the user. It is really our ambition to make the Kubus app nothing less than the most used app in Belgium.”