Building tomorrow’s media landscape with Stampen

Stampen Media

In a world where stories shape our everyday reality, Stampen Media stands out as a powerful presence. With roots tracing back to the early 1900s, this Swedish media giant is known to be West Sweden’s largest media house. But it’s more than just numbers. Stampen Media’s legacy is defined by its commitment to bringing the everyday lives of its readers closer to local events. Through live broadcasts, reviews, and thorough coverage, Stampen Media keeps communities informed, engaged, and connected.

They have an extensive portfolio of 17 subscription titles and Göteborgs-Posten leads the pack as the largest newspaper with over 130,000 paid subscribers, and was awarded Sweden’s Newspaper of the Year for 2022. Stampen Media promises quality local journalism, recognizing the significant impact it holds, particularly when it touches the lives of millions everyday. In a given week, they print around 30 million units and distribute close to 3.5 million newspapers, catering to 1.4 million readers.

Stampen Media has also upgraded to a robust cloud-based billing platform to increase its online presence. This allows Stampen Media to efficiently manage both print and digital subscriptions in one convenient place. With this upgrade, Stampen customers can easily manage their accounts online and activate new subscriptions with user-friendly self-service options. The media company enjoyed record growth with a 23% increase in digital subscriptions, a 34% increase in digital circulation revenues, and a 34% boost in digital advertising revenue in 2021[1].

Stampen Media has also proven its mettle in the industry, winning multiple awards at the recent International News Media Association Congress held in New York.

An extended development team

When we first met Stampen Media, they were looking to expand their development team. They wanted a flexible and well-matched team that could work remotely alongside their in-house development team as part of one unified team.

At the time, Stampen was in the process of creating a new content management solution to streamline operations across its various news websites. The aim was to merge disparate backends into a single unified system. However, to expedite the product’s time to market, they required additional development capacity. This is where Calcey stepped in, offering the necessary support and expertise. As the first order of business, we helped in migrating existing features from their legacy system to the new robust platform affectionately called Thanos (but instead of erasing half the universe, it’s set to improve efficiency).

The most recent migration was their largest newspaper title, Göteborgs-Posten. The new platform integrated multiple third-party systems to provide a feature-rich and easy to work environment for editors and a better reading experience for users. After the recent migration, the platform comfortably serves 4 million+ page views daily across all titles. The fire explosion incident at Liseberg Water Park stands as the best example, where people scrambled for information, resulting in the platform reaching 15 million+ page views daily across all titles.

Transitioning from a legacy system and beyond

At first, we joined as a separate team, working independently from their in-house developers, as most of the Stampen team was on summer vacation. During this time, we focused on refining tickets from the backlog and learning Stampen’s development practices.

After the summer, both parties recognized the potential for closer teamwork, and Calcey was absorbed into Stampen’s development team, forming a unified scrum team. However, the team size became unwieldy, particularly during sprint planning sessions. As a result, the development team was split into three internal teams, creating three specialized scrum teams focused on infrastructure work, feature development, billing modules, and contributing to Stampen’s future roadmap. Each scrum team has a product owner, a project manager, development, UX and QA resources jointly working together to achieve sprint goals.

The Content Experience team is dedicated to enhancing the value of content offerings. This includes strategizing on article improvement, refining tracking mechanisms, and brainstorming ways to provide additional value to writers. The Product Experience team oversees subscription management, payment processing, user account handling, conversion tracking, promotions and campaign management, and focuses on providing end users a seamless user experience. Meanwhile, the Platform team facilitates shared services that are used by other product teams. This includes managing CI/CD pipelines, designing and implementing cost-effective cloud infrastructure, as well as maintaining applications used by journalists and editors. We work hand in hand with Stampen, taking on active roles in all three teams and in the respective focus areas.

Since we operate within three specialized teams, Stampen holds skill sharing sessions whenever there is a noteworthy development. Here, we aim to bring all teams together and upskill collectively. Those working on new developments or integrations share their skills with the rest of the team, get feedback, and answer any questions from the team.

Boosting Stampen’s digital impact

We have been actively contributing to maintaining Stampen’s microsites, representing each newspaper owned by the company, creating a cohesive digital ecosystem. We work with third-party subscription providers to help Stampen users subscribe to its news sites. In order to make subscribing easy for users, we are working towards integrating a new payment provider to streamline the payment process and attract more subscribers. The Platform team is also committed to enhancing homepage performance, aiming for faster loading times, while the Feature team leverages data analytics to optimize article effectiveness.

Our team from Calcey also contributed to developing a solution to handle mid-air collisions between different users while still allowing content updates for the same users. We also pitched in to improve the infrastructure to handle millions of daily requests more cost-efficiently. Additionally, we simplified the product subscription flow, which positively affected the conversion rates. We’ve also been involved in designing and implementing major new features such as article previews for journalists, algorithmic-based article lists, and third-party integrations.

Stampen’s main source of revenue is advertising and subscriptions. The subscription model offers various options, primarily focusing on digital newspapers and mobile platforms, with a diminishing emphasis on printed papers. Subscribers can choose from a plethora of plans tailored to their preferences. They have the option to receive printed newspapers, along with the flexibility to choose a subscription plan for a single site, multiple sites, exclusive mobile access, or a combination of mobile and web platforms.

Photo: Magnus Karlsson/Creative Commons

Taking charge

Stampen reflects Sweden’s renowned work-life balance, which is mirrored in our team at Calcey. This liberty and ethos thrive only because Stampen operates on a philosophy where every developer takes ownership of their work, fostering a culture of accountability and collaboration. Within this framework, we at Calcey have contributed to Stampen’s work from developing new features, maintaining existing digital platforms, and designing, implementing, and testing cloud infrastructure. As Stampen’s extended dedicated development team, we are proud to be an integral part of this journey and remain committed to contributing to Stampen’s ongoing success in the digital publishing landscape.

Wageesha Aluthgama
“Stampen is a really interesting client, and our collaboration transcends traditional client-service provider relationships; instead, we seamlessly integrate as an extension of their development team across various scrum groups. Together, we operate as one unified team, pooling our expertise and actively supporting Stampen’s growth by providing resources and introducing fresh perspectives for their systems and upcoming plans. This partnership isn’t just about delivering solutions; it’s about fostering innovation, taking ownership of the work we do, and propelling Stampen towards even greater success.”
Wageesha Aluthgama
Project Manager