One is a student newspaper site hosted on BLOX CMS, the other a student television station site hosted on the Rayos platform. Both turned to TownNews to deliver a high quality, competitive experience for students and site visitors.
"We had outgrown our old website in terms of content, readership, security and support," said Walt Baranger, faculty advisor for Daily Titan. Billed as "the Independent Student Voice of Cal State Fullerton," the newspaper is printed weekly while the website and mobile app are updated daily. "Recently, our stories have gotten over 150,000 views; that's a lot when there's 47,000 people on campus."
"TownNews was the best fit for what we needed," said Amy Martin, director of digital at University of Alabama's WVUA23.com. The commercial television station in Tuscaloosa, allows students and professionals to work side by side and is operated by the College of Communication and Information Sciences. "WVUA 23 covers nine counties in West Alabama and is one of the nation's top 40 markets."
Holding up under pressure
When both universities were experiencing crashing of their old websites, they looked to TownNews for help. WVUA 23's students had resorted to posting broadcast videos on YouTube. While on the West Coast, Daily Titan students scrambled to fix plugins in the middle of the night.
"Our old WVUA site before TownNews was crashing a lot," Martin said. "It wasn't user-friendly. We couldn't put ads on the website, and even adding video to our stories was difficult. TownNews helped us address all these problems. Our new site doesn't crash at all!"
"At the beginning of the pandemic we were really getting whacked: about a million and a half visits a month for our site," Baranger said. "Then we had design and plugin issues. It caused our old site to crash, and at one point the site was offline for three weeks. We needed modern security and support. The change to TownNews has been just night and day better!"
Impacting the bottom line
"The only solution was for us to start fresh with our site," Baranger said. "We looked at moving over to a new instance of WordPress to 'do it on a budget'. What we discovered was that the money we get from sharing ad revenue with TownNews offsets the cost of using TownNews."
Using best practices and industry standards for ad placements, ad sizes, and programmatic networks, TownNews sites are set up to maximize advertising revenue. And revenue comes from more than just advertising. With solutions for audience engagement, content and video management, mobile apps, OTT, recruitment, ecommerce, and much more, college media sites can find a tailored mix that works best for them.
"Our revenue has grown," Martin said. "We started at zero web revenue when we launched our new site in February of 2022. The next month we actually made money, and we continue to grow."
"The bottom line is that it didn't cost us anything to change over," Baranger said. "It actually freed up money because we're not buying additional templates and plugins anymore. And it freed up funds to get the mobile app."
Support when you need it most
Baranger and Martin agree that one of the best things about working with TownNews is the outstanding customer support. Students can focus on learning how to create and produce quality local media. And the staff and advisors can spend less time worrying about technical issues.
"The biggest problem we had before was if something happened on our old website, we had to fix it ourselves," Baranger said. "Now I just start a support ticket and I get answered, usually within a few hours. If it's the rare emergency, TownNews gets back to us right away. Any issue is handled pretty fast."
"Over at WVUA 23, we don't have a techy web person on our staff. So any technical issues for our site needs to be handled by someone else," Martin said. "We recommend TownNews to anyone. But especially those in our position where having an on-staff web person is not an option."
Whether the site is for the weekly student newspaper or a commercial TV channel, TownNews has the right solutions for college media.
"The main advantage of TownNews is that students are using an editorial front end and web publishing system that is actually used by professional journalists at commercial newspapers," Baranger said. "The student editing and publishing experience is directly translatable to actual jobs and professional skills."
"Everyone at TownNews was very patient and helped us every step of the way," Martin said. "TownNews has made everything so much better for our digital team."