Gannett Site For Moms Gets Viral Lift with Live-Streamed Birth

Last Friday night was unlike any other for, a one-year-old site owned by newspaper publisher Gannett. It was thrown into a tizzy when it became evident that its first live-streamed birth event was about to occur, 13 days earlier than expected.

After the mother’s water broke, though, the cameras were ready to roll, and the live streaming technology worked. Though — a network of 80 local properties — had no experience doing a live event before, it all rather improbably came off without a hitch.

The biggest winner may have been Ashley Furniture Industries Inc., which had a featured banner running during what turned out to be a lengthy and well-attended event. Ads for the Arcadia, WI-based furniture manufacturer and retailer were constantly seen while 3,600 people watched the live stream. Also exposed to it were the 148,600 unique visitors who downloaded the video during the next 72 hours.

The mother, “Lynsee” from Minneapolis, who kept her full name private, endured a nearly eight-hour labor. Traffic began to build when she started laboring around 4 p.m. Central Daylight Time and continued to grow even after her baby was born shortly after midnight. Unique visitors to the site that Friday were 7.6 times higher than normal and 8.5 times higher on Saturday as people around the globe caught wind online of the spectacle.

“People were watching in Australia, Romania, Turkey,” said Lisa Tyler, spokesperson for the Washington, DC-area “It’s really interesting that it went from an online local neighborhood thing to a global audience.”

Page views for the weekend came in at 10 times higher than average, while the video stream logged 1.3 million minutes viewed. That’s a considerable number of eyeballs for an event that only received the support of one press release and a single segment by a Twins Cities television station.

“Lynsee,” a former educator, was among the first to respond to a note posted by She kept a regular preganancy journal at the site for the last several months. A local support group of 2,179 site members formed over time, and they received an e-mail alert on Friday after she went to the hospital. That e-mail likely triggered the weekend’s viral traffic, Tyler suggested, while they forwarded the message and posted links to the site on their Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter pages.

There was one oversight in the effort, Tyler admitted. No sponsorship was established with a baby products retailer or manufacturer in what could have been an ongoing post-birth branded photo opportunity to be distributed via Flickr and other social media.

“Going into it, we had no idea what the feedback would be,” she said. “We were so nervous that there’d be complications. Luckily, it all went smoothly… We’ve been promoting it on our homepage, letting our users know with a [birth] announcement.”

The baby’s name, by the way, is Solveig. She was born at 6 pounds, 8 ounces.

Related reading