After months of hard work by a world-class editorial team, iconic British title The Face recently relaunched with the help of Mathematics. As the project progressed we discussed integration with Apple News and the team’s desired outcomes from their Apple News channel. We were acutely aware that here was a publication described by The New York Times as ‘a magazine that changed culture’, so with the weight of a great reputation bearing down, we were careful not to compromise The Face’s iconic brand. So, we designed an Apple News channel to communicate The Face’s position at the vanguard of British youth culture, harnessing the exposure Apple News offers by surfacing stories to users based around interests and browsing behaviours.

What did The Face require?

The Face aims to circumvent “feed culture” – they don’t have a Facebook page and instead of posting quickfire articles regularly they deliver a small amount of content to a consistently high standard. This bold approach requires building loyal audiences that come to The Face through quality platforms like Apple News.

The Face’s focus is on youth culture, but one needn’t be a young person to enjoy its content. The team covers such a breadth of culture that any reader is able to quickly find an article pertaining to their interests. Unlike other publications of the same genre, The Face was relaunched as an already-influential brand. As such, its deeply-ingrained principles were well known, and the first task for us at Mathematics was assuring that they were never compromised.

Music, fashion, film and art are the areas most widely reported on by The Face, though the publication’s remit extends beyond the creative industries. For instance, here’s the piece leading their Apple News channel at the time of writing:

America's Scariest Motel story on The Face's Apple News Channel BORDERThis plays to The Face’s advantage in Apple News. The platform’s algorithm works to learn a person’s interests, and its UI surfaces stories of interest to that person. This, coupled with the variety of its content, broadens The Face’s opportunities to appear as a ‘Related Story’ suggestion below content from huge publishers of all types. Content will also appear in a person’s personalised news feed, based either on context or personal taste.

The editorial team had to work doubly hard to launch with heaps of content worthy of The Face’s reputation;  the last thing they needed in the planning and development stages was more work. Therefore, it was essential that Apple News integration was as simple and as smooth as possible without interfering with the team’s hectic schedules:

We worked on setting up The Face on Apple News at the same time we were launching the website, so we needed experts to handle the integration without draining our resource at such a critical time. Because the Mathematics team have so much experience and insight with Apple News, we completely trusted them to lead the project, which they did brilliantly. They were able to handle all the tech work, while also translating our overall design identity to work on the platform.” – Bridget Mills-Powell, Digital Director

Naturally, a publication so devoted to style has to appear elegant in all channels. Our FlatPlan integration system offers The Face the total control over the look and feel they require, in turn allowing them to maintain the integrity of their brand however they see fit.

How did we ensure The Face’s goals were met?

We began by considering how Apple News can help meet The Face’s overall goals. Then, we offered their team our hard-earned insights into how best to approach growth with the platform. These conversations revolved around the various types of content The Face publishes. On its site, The Face hosts audio and video content, and it was paramount that these formats be seamlessly incorporated into the publication’s Apple News channel. As such, The Face channel on Apple News contains more audio than any other channel we’ve seen – an exciting new addition to the platform.

Casey Spooner audio excerpt on theface.com
Casey Spooner audio excerpt on theface.com

Unique to FlatPlan is the ability to add custom footers below each article so we added a footer to direct their audience to The Face newsletter. This helps them own their audience, and direct them to wherever The Face’s goals must be met:

The Face's custom Apple News footerAll the editorial team need to do to surface stories on Apple News is publish a story to their site, and FlatPlan automatically maps content according to category, so stories are automatically grouped into the relevant section with The Face’s Apple News channel. We designed page templates to perfectly replicate The Face’s look and feel, and built them to be effective across mobile, tablet and desktop. This assures that The Face’s content portrays their iconic branding, irrespective of platform. Here’s a desktop Apple News story:

The Face's Skepta review on Apple News for desktopHere’s the same story on Apple News for mobile:

The Face's Skepta review on Apple News for mobileAnd here it is for tablet:

The Face's Skepta review on iPad interfaceFrom a technical perspective Apple News integration usually requires CMS-level development and heaps of QA testing but FlatPlan’s simplicity meant that Mills-Powell was able to say: “To be honest, the integration was so easy on our resource I barely knew it was going on”.

Ideal! Our knowledge of Apple News allowed The Face to make their start with a focus on building a loyal audience. It’s early days, but the team have already earned some great results.

Welcome to Apple News, The Face!

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