Following its recent Canadian launch, the Huffington Post has continued its expansion and diversification by launching a UK site yesterday, paidContent reported.
The UK edition will carry the same format as the U.S. site, with a mix of original reporting, aggregation, blogging and “social engagement,” but will have a unique voice influenced by traditional “British wit and humour,” Carla Buzasi, editor of the news site and editor-in-chief of AOL Europe, told PressGazette.co.uk.
Buzasi will be leading an editorial team of 10 people, including former BBC and Al-Jazeera staff. Along with guest writers, the UK version of the HuffPo has around 300 unpaid bloggers already on board, according to Journalism.co.uk. The team will be supported by both the wider AOL editorial staff in the United Kingdom and the HuffPo team in the United States.
Using such large numbers of unpaid contributors has proved controversial in the United States, with more plaintiffs joining a US$105 million lawsuit against HuffPo last month.
“How sustainable is a business model where you don’t pay your contributors? It might create a level playing field, but here [in the U.K.] we are more cynical about why a person is saying what they’re saying, and why they want exposure,” said Meg Pickard, head of digital engagement for Guardian News & Media, commenting on the issue to AdAge. “We will wait and see if they will be able to make it more than just a ‘lite’ localisation of the U.S. site, or whether they can build a real U.K. media brand.”
Visitors with a UK IP address will be redirected automatically to the UK version of the news site, but they can also navigate to the U.S. or Canadian version. According to comScore, the HuffPo’s U.S version brings in 1.2 million visitors from the United Kingdom each month, according to Mashable.com.
HuffPo UK will also “bring the signature part of The Huffington Post, which is really engagement,” Huffington stated in the press release.
“We are planning to launch in France after England,” Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post said at the Cannes Lions advertising festival, according to The Drum.
“Then we are going to announce the roll-out of other countries; Latin America, Australia, India,” paidContent reported. “We have to be in 12 countries by the end of the year. We’ve already launched in Canada which has been a great success.”
MediaGuardian noted that the HuffPo will be its “most direct competition yet,” but questioned how it will fit into the UK market, which is different from the United States.
AOL is supporting the UK launch of Huffington Post with a major marketing campaign encouraging commuters to blog, MediaWeek UK reported. The campaign created by MBA invites commuters to tweet their opinions. Those tweets will then be transmitted back out within the ads. The activity will be supported by using mock newspaper stand sellers at transit stations, as well as press, taxi and online advertising.
Another marketing campaign phase will come later this year.
In May, the HuffPo’s traffic surpassed that of The New York Times, but British newspaper Mail Online beat HuffPo’s traffic numbers in April.