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The story of ScoopShot: Q&A with CEO Niko Ruokosuo

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The story of ScoopShot: Q&A with CEO Niko Ruokosuo

Article ID:

15159

Newspapers all over the world are increasingly turning to crowdsourcing to engage their audiences like never before.

Images, of course, form a big part of the crowdsourcing “picture.” For years now, publishers have been asking readers to send in photos for different campaigns, etc., but only recently have specific crowdsourcing solutions emerged that truly help media companies engage with their audiences.

One such solution that appears to be making headway in this light is Scoopshot from P2S Media Group in Finland. The company got a lot of attention this past fall when it partnered with Metro International, the publisher of Metro titles all over the world and with 17 million readers.

Since offering Scoopshot to its readers in November, Metro now has 65,000 ScoopShooters in 135 countries, about 170,000 photos have been taken with the application, and they have 46 media partners in seven countries.

And P2S has signed up with a number of other publishers, including most recently with Het Laatste Nieuws in Belgium. The company also launched a mobile marketing tool in February called Scoopshot Race, and most recently started offering video as part of its solution.

We talked to Niko Ruokosuo, CEO of P2S Media Group, via email over the past several months about the evolution of the company itself, its solution and his journey to crowdsourcing.

 

WAN-IFRA: How was Scoopshot created?

Ruokosuo: Scoopshot was invented by Mr. Petri Rahja. Petri has a background in IT, IPR and mobile technology including a few start-ups. He talked to a few technology wizards about his idea, and the three of them worked in the ‘chambers’ for a few months to develop the first functional apps. This was enough to attract some ‘angel’ investors, speed up the development and final concept design so that the product was launched in Finland about 9 months after the initial idea, in February 2011. We became international in November 2011 when we entered Sweden and Denmark with Metro, followed by the Netherlands in January 2012. Currently we are negotiating with several major international publishers around the Globe.

None of the original founders had media backgrounds, and yet the application speaks to some of the greatest media and content needs most publishers are facing. A typical example of the need for external and detached thinking and vision in pretty much any industry.

 

WAN-IFRA: The last I heard you were in Saudi Arabia... what were you doing there and how did you get involved with Scoopshot?

Ruokosuo: Yes, I worked two years as the COO of Saudi Research and Marketing Group, the largest publisher in the Middle East. After completing my two-year contract, I remained in the region for almost another year to pursue some digital opportunities due to the rapid expansion of the digital media there. It was a great three years, especially from the cultural perspective and I learned a lot. While finishing off my digital project, I was contacted by the founders of Scoopshot asking me to work on their international strategy. I immediately fell in love with the concept of crowdsourcing and the co-operation soon led to a mutual decision for me to become their CEO. But before that, I completed my plan of driving back home with my family from the Middle East to Finland. Although the trip was shortened due to the unrest in Syria, it was a great trip and a literal transition from Arabia to the Nordics.

 

WAN-IFRA: What is the greatest benefit for a publisher, like Metro, using Scoopshot, in terms of finance, quality, reader impact, etc.?

Ruokosuo: I would summarize the benefits of using Scoopshot crowdsourcing solution under three main categories, continuous flow of content, unique local and hyper-local content and lower cost.

Any media company today is struggling with frequent updates to its digital channels as well as having access to unique relevant content that sets them apart from other online news channels. Making this all happen with lower cost is even more difficult of an equation. Scoopshot happens to address all of these simultaneously. Through Scoopshot, media has access to hundreds of thousands mobile photographers locally and globally. These ‘Scoopshooters’ send in newsworthy photos for media to browse and purchase. The system takes care of all copyright, payment, image authenticity and transfer issues. Media can also send location specific photo tasks to any of the Scoopshooters locally and globally. For example, "Send us photos from the floods in Bangkok, reward USD 20" or "Send us photos from the Vienna music Festival", basically anything the media has a need for.

Alternatively, the media can send the tasks, like the ones described earlier, to a pool of freelance photographers. Again, the system locates, commissions and contracts the photographer, but this time using high-quality SLR cameras and the web as the platform.

The outcome is an engaged, active and satisfied reader and contributor pool. Users share their activity with Scoopshot and the media on their Facebook pages and the excitement spreads. This way, we drive traffic and eyeballs from social media to the news sites publishing the reader photos.

It is seldom one can combine volume, uniqueness, low cost and engagement in one package, but that is exactly what Scoopshot does.

 

WAN-IFRA: How can you convince a publisher that they can benefit from this when they already probably have contracts with agencies like AP, AFP, etc.?

Ruokosuo: With three things, uniqueness, cost and locality. The newswire photos are available to every media and they typically cover predictable major news events. If the event is not predictable, they usually cover it after the actual occasion. With Scoopshot media gets high-temperature footage directly from the scene when it is happening because one or many of the Scoopshooters are likely on the scene. Also, if you are a publisher in a town of 50,000 people, there are no newswire photographers there but you can have a few thousand Scoopshooters covering eroding road conditions, town hall meetings or a tree falling over a walkway. I think it is clear we are not a replacement for newswire, we are an addition to it. My favorite Scoopshot story is about a pigeon that took a metro ride in Stockholm a few days after our launch there. Someone witnessed the pigeon in the tube, captured it with Scoopshot and sent the photo in. Metro newspaper in Sweden bought and published the photo. Within hours it was the most read and most commented story on their website. Why, because it is local, it is unique and it has a twist – and that's what readers want.

 

WAN-IFRA: Take the Metro deal, what exactly did they sign up for, meaning what do they have to do: are they buying software/service?

Ruokosuo: Metro first tried out Scoopshot in Sweden and Denmark. They started by telling their readers via news articles and advertising that they now want to engage their readers, would purchase their photos and publish them in the paper. They also said they would be sending photo tasks to the readers asking for specific news content and urged their readers to download Scoopshot. Within a week from the launch they had over 9000 Scoopshooters in Sweden and 5000 in Denmark. A Halloween Task two days after the launch asking readers to send in their Halloween celebration photos generated more then 900 photos of which Metro published 11. More than 2000 news photos were sent in within the first four days in Sweden alone.

According to Metro, this "electrified" their editorial with access to whole new content and the possibility to instantly receive photos of anything they want by creating tasks. Soon after this, Metro made the decision to expand Scoopshot to all of its markets. This will cover at least 16 countries and bring the user base to over 200,000.

There is no software to buy, no start up fee or any other investment for Metro or any other publication to start using the system. Any media can sign up for free at www.scoopshot.com and start browsing the photos. Obviously, to get local content, it is beneficial for the media to inform their readers and audience about Scoopshot and the process and get local contributors. This is best done via editorial articles like Metro did, but can also be done with (filler) ads by the media.

Scoopshot revenue comes from a commission on purchased photos. This makes it possible to provide the application for the Scoopshooters for free and access to media to the photos also for free.

 

WAN-IFRA: How does the publisher access the images?

Ruokosuo: Media gets a nice and logical access to a browser based online store where photos can be viewed by location (e.g. photos within 30 km radius of Berlin), keyword (e.g Sports Photos, or Accident Photos from London) or free text. The system generates the exact location data by GPS, Scoopshooters select the categories (IPTC) and enter the caption. The rest of the information like, sender data and contact, image source (directly from phone or from phone gallery) and other useful information is also generated by the system. Watches with alarms can be generated by each journalist and Task photos fall directly under separate views.

Selected images can be purchased with single license or exclusive license with three mouse clicks. Payment is transferred to the Scoopshooters instantly.

 

WAN-IFRA: How do you see this... as a complement to a publisher's photo department?

Ruokosuo: Today I see this as a complement in print, and especially online. In the near future, this will open up completely new content opportunities and change the way media acquires content. When covering local issues with graffiti, even a small media could ask for graffiti photos from anywhere in the country or the world and take a completely new angle on the story with hundreds of graffiti photos online. Or when doing a travel story about a beach resort, a media can have access to current photos from the location taken by the locals there or by the visitors, each covering their favorite picks for dinner and best beaches. With hundreds of thousands of Scoopshooters, any niche can be covered instantaneously.

 

WAN-IFRA: Is this something “the everday Joe” is more interested in with his or her mobile, or more freelance photographers?

Ruokosuo: Scoopshot enables and provides opportunities for four different types of user groups: Scoopshooters, Community members, Professional Freelancers and Freelance amateurs. The foundation are the thousands of Scoopshooters locally and globally sending in mobile photos. This is the everyday Joe, and we already have masses of them. Then, of those mobile Scoopshooters any media can build their own community of contributors via a simple online widget we have built. The community members are the hardcore users that like a specific media, want to be involved, and on a regular basis send in newsworthy content. Special tasks, messages and rewards can be easily directed to this community via the system by the media.

When professional quality photographs are needed, the media can use Scoopshot Pro. It is a database of freelance photographers that we have built and who are ready to receive photo assignments from media companies. All photographers have been pre-qualified and can be sent Tasks, just like it is done for the mobile photographers. With Pro, communication is over the web and using SLR cameras. Through evolution, or coincidence, even the Freelance Photographers have now been divided into two categories, true Professionals and amateurs, or enthusiasts, as we like to call them. It may be that in St. Andrews, Scotland, or Cadiz, Spain there are no available Professional photographers, but there are enthusiasts that have a great portfolio of work and skills, and can cover a local golf tournament or art exhibition.

 

WAN-IFRA: Are there any real technical hurdles to overcome with all the different phones, IPTC info, resolutions, etc.?

Ruokosuo: The Scoopshot app is available on iPhones and Android. Like all other app developers, we do suffer a bit from the various hardware and software versions on Android phones. This causes extra work and some delays in launching new Android versions. IPTC categories are built into the user interface and selected as part of the fluent image capture and sending process. So far, the users have been pretty good about selecting the right category. They seem to understand it improves their chances of selling the photo. Glad you asked about resolution. When photos are sent via MMS, the image resolution is reduced drastically. With Scoopshot, we send the original file which in the phones we cover ranges from 3 MB to 8 MB on the iPhone 4S. This is enough for even large size in print.

 

WAN-IFRA: What is Scoopshot Race?

Ruokosuo: This is a completely new engaging and activating mobile marketing tool based on the task functionality, but with a turbo charger. With Scoopshot Race, media can extend the crowd to their advertisers and send branded and visually engaging marketing tasks like "Capture a Coke moment, USD 1,000 reward" or "Spot and photograph the new Alfa Romeo Giulietta and get the car for a month". Rewards, campaign web pages and image management are all built into the Race process.

 

WAN-IFRA: Who are your competitors?

Ruokosuo: Our competitors are "old fashioned minds" with decision making power.

Author

Dean Roper's picture

Dean Roper

Date

2012-05-18 17:48

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