News 12 builds local news formula for interactive broadcasts

Interactive Broadcast: News 12 builds interactive broadcast with QR & Polling

The Goal

Grow audience loyalty through enhanced engagement and multi-platform storytelling via interactive polling, QR codes, & real-time social.

What We Did

  • Real-time social on linear channels for breaking news and audience engagement
  • Daily interactive polls to give the audience a voice in the newscast
  • QR codes to provide viewers with additional information and drive valuable traffic to O&O channels
  • Social embeds on digital to create a sense of community

The Result

An award winning formula as News 12 took home first place for best product initiative in the Local Media Association Innovation Awards. QR codes are continuing to drive between 10 to 25% of overall website traffic, and daily interactive polling is the number one visited page on New Jersey’s website, outside of the home page and weather. Strong metrics that point to the success of using Tagboard’s interactive technology to power a multi-platform storytelling strategy.

A local news station’s biggest platform is their linear broadcast; but a “linear-only” legacy mindset isn’t always enough to pay the bills. Today, news stations need to leverage their biggest platform to drive traffic across all owned properties (dot-com, mobile apps, OTT, streaming, newsletters, etc.) and keep that valuable first party data in house. Altice USA’s News 12 Networks are showing the power of using Tagboard to drive a multi-platform experience and it’s generating mind-boggling numbers.

It all began in December of 2020 with a QR code on a weather broadcast. The team didn’t know what to expect, anticipating a modest number of scans in the hundreds. Instead, a flurry of 19,000 scans tested the bandwidth of their website. Flash forward to today and daily social engagement, QR codes, and interactive polling are mainstays across their networks, and thus the News 12 interactive broadcast was created.

interactive broadcast
interactive broadcast

“We had a bunch of winter storms in a row and we kept on feeding the same QR code and I’m tracking it. I’m figuring out the numbers and I’m like, Oh, that’s 50,000, that’s 200,000, that’s a million. All of a sudden this thing’s going up and up and up and it was like, okay, that is more than enough of a sample size in a test,” said Chris Vaccaro, VP of Digital. “From that moment on it has been pedal down and full steam ahead to use QR codes in way more than just snowstorms.”

QR codes unlock multi-platform success for interactive broadcast

News 12 using QR codes in storm coverage

Before QR codes found their footing the only way to get your audience from linear to digital was to tell them to go to your website and hope they found the information you wanted them to. A tall task that only the most motivated viewers were willing to navigate.

“You want to remove any barriers that you can for people to get your content – you want to make it as easy as possible,” said Frank Pokorney, Assistant News Director, Digital. “The QR code takes you right there. You have everything at your fingertips; you’re putting them on your mobile app, your web page, your television product. It’s just an instant connection

News 12 produces special programming for major storms, breaking news events, and election coverage when necessary, but for the most part they are trying to fit as much info as possible into a 30 minute newscast. Not all information makes the cut, and they find these to be perfect times to use QR codes to drive audiences to digital platforms for extended coverage.

“Why not use the biggest platform we have, with the biggest audience, and drive to our other platforms to keep the resources alive?” questions Vaccaro. “It helps the business. It grows traffic, it helps revenue when that traffic increases; but most importantly, the audience is satisfied with the news and information that they need.”

News 12 is conscious of QR fatigue with their audience, so they pick their spots and the result is hundreds of thousands of page views per month.

“When you break it down by individual news instances, election night, a debate, a conflict, things that are unavoidable at times. We see the QR code drive between 10 to 25% of the overall website traffic,” said Vaccaro.

With numbers like that it’s no surprise News 12 won first place for best product initiative in the Local Media Association Innovation Awards. The production initiative, QR codes.

Interactive Polling leads website traffic

When sending audiences to their digital platforms, additional information and extended coverage isn’t the only thing on the other end. News 12 also leans on Tagboard technology for daily interactive polls during their live broadcasts.

“Interactive polls are a good way to connect with the audience and say we want to hear what you’re thinking,” said Pokorney. “We’re not going to just sit here and talk, we’re going to get feedback from you. Then when integrated into the newscast it creates a two way street. There’s very few things that will help an audience feel more engaged than when they actually take the time to comment on something or respond to something.”

Interactive polls hosted daily on the various station websites can range from serious to fun topics. The consistency of it makes it part of the audience routine and it’s driving massive numbers on their website.

“You talk about something that we were not expecting, the daily Tagboard poll, accessible through the QR code (which you are scanning from linear) is outside of weather and the home page the number one page on News 12 New Jersey’s website,” said Vaccaro. “More than any news story, more than any specific storm, more than any COVID resource this year alone, it’s the top item on the site; it’s still very mind boggling.”

The social integrations, QR codes, and interactive polling all work to enhance the viewing experience for the News 12 audience. “Getting that feedback and engagement with the audience across all platforms is a big part of what we do,” said Pokorney.

News 12 goes to social for Olympic updates

Interactive Broadcasts and the future for News 12

All of it has not only grown loyalty with their community of viewers, but an unanticipated success story throughout the News 12 Networks is how introducing Tagboard to their workflows grew synergies between the departments. The path to mastering multi-platform helped hurdle some legacy mindsets and bridge any gaps that may have existed between linear and digital teams.

“It has been so rewarding to see,” said Vaccaro. “I’m not selling Tagboard. It’s selling itself. And this is not what I expected at all. But I’m so pleasantly happy that it’s worked out this way.”

Looking to create your own interactive broadcast? Request a customized Tagboard demo today!