Publishers are leveraging tools across the digital sphere to bring their digital strategy to the next level. We have handpicked some of the best-in-class ideas presented at the INMA Global Media Awards from AI reporting on regional football driving a 50% renewal rate to dispelling fake news on TikTok to reach Gen Z.
Norwegian robots reporting on football and local businesses
Norway is one of the most forward-thinking regions with AI. Football is amongst the most popular sports in Norway, so Stavanger Aftenblad created a robot to report on football. The robot produces one article from each game in the region from age 13 upwards in their Måål! project.
Players, friends and family can now easily follow players and teams. Stavanger Aftenblad’s regional football reporter can now also cover regional football news in both big and small stories. The robot covers 80-90 matches a day featuring 10,000 players and brings readers closer to their local communities. The regional focus of Måål! has seen 50% of Måål users renew their subscription with Stavanger Aftenbladet, higher than the standard rate of 25%.
Elsewhere in Norway, Bergens Tidende boosted their local coverage with Local Business Robot. Covering businesses requires diving into data which can often be difficult to navigate. So, BT created Local Business Robot to simplify this and boost business knowledge.
The team fed data into the robot to imitate to editorial processes and article styles. This ensured that readers would accept automated content as journalism. Local Business Robot lets BT subscribers read about any local business or industry. The hyperlocal nature means subscribers can read about their favourite local restaurants and access visuals developed by the robot.
These show profitability curves and aerial photos. Local Business Robot saves journalists time whilst building data sets for investigative journalism. Local Business Robot articles frequently top the most-read lists. 70 articles have been read by 10,000 subscribers – the same amount who visit the service daily. For a news organisation with 65,000 active digital subscribers, this is a significant feat.
AI can bring publishers closer to their local communities and provide vital resources.
Generating habits through premium ePaper trials
ePapers remain the closest digital product to the traditional print newspaper and hold many of the same habit-forming powers. In Sweden, Göteborgs-Posten decided to leverage their ePaper to boost retention amongst news site subscribers. News site subscribers pay to access content but have no access to premium features like the ePaper. Göteborg-Posten’s telemarketing team therefore attempted to upgrade subscribers with 1 month remaining of their subscription to their premium ePaper product. The first step was to offer them a 3-month trial for 147 Swedish Krone, followed by a 6-month trial for 49 Swedish Krone a month. Following this habit-forming period, the goal was to convert these into full paying subscribers.
At the close of 2021, Göteborgs-Posten witnessed a 29% increase in full paying subscribers. The ePaper now has 41,404 paying subscribers, up from 30,969 at the end of 2020. The success has also seen a reduction in ePaper churn. Churn rates have dropped from 17.10% to 14.50%. Focusing on a longer trial period can be powerful to develop habits with premium products and pricing strategies should match this. Remember, it takes 66 days to develop a habit, but longer trial offers can give this habit a longer period to entrench itself in daily routines.
Gannett giving subscribers more bang for their buck
In the US, Gannett enriched their ePaper offering. The publisher added premium magazines and bonus content to their ePaper in each local market and to USA Today. The aim was to increase ePaper usage and make subscribers aware of this added value. Over the trial period, the publisher offered a total of 17 magazines worth $5 dollars each to subscribers. This rewarded ePaper readers with access to $85 worth of content free of charge.
Awareness was raised through monthly email campaigns to active subscribers and on their websites. These were some of Gannett’s highest performing emails for 2021, with open rates between 35-47% and click-through-rates averaging 5-9%. The success of the campaign was reflected in ePaper usage. ePapers saw a 6% boost in users and a boost on weekend usage thanks to the strategic deploy of the monthly email campaigns on a Saturday. The success of the campaign has led Gannett to adopt the project across all titles for 2022.
Subscribers love to get value for money so reward their loyalty by giving them more.
Meeting younger readers on TikTok in Germany
Social media is the obvious place for publishers to attract younger readers. At the time of writing, TikTok is the current frontrunner. German publisher Rheinische Post took to the platform with their “Humbug” project. The project aimed to boost the ability of younger audiences to spot misinformation. This was a way to boost brand and news awareness and increase their TikTok following.
Through posting short and creative videos, the publisher made it fun and easier to spot misinformation. Rheinische Post have produced over 150 videos, with many having 100,000 views and 1 viral video over 1 million. In terms of followers, Rheinische Post have gained 18,000 followers and 343,400 likes.
Südkurier Medienhaus saw similar success on TikTok with “Jobs im Suedwesten”. The German publisher setup a Tiktok account to gain Gen Z participants for their remote jobs fair and expand Jobs im Suedwestern’s brand positioning amongst Gen Z. The project team created video content on the topic of “Road to apprenticeship” and saw great success in engaging Gen Z. Südkurier Medienhaus were able to reach over 337,000 Views and 8000 Likes between August and October 2021. This generated over 1600 visitors on the Jobs im Südwestern site, which helped to get attention for their remote job fair.
TikTok had far greater success than other platforms. Meta (Facebook and Instagram) generated 182,000 impressions, Google display ads generated 56,000 and Snapchat brought just 7800. TikTok is the place to meet Gen Z and publishers must decide whether their efforts will be rewarded.
Traditional tools also bring younger readers onboard
Västerbottens-Kurirens Media in Sweden launched Ung Målgrupp to gather insights and develop guidelines to target conversion and retention of 18–45-year-olds. A cross-team working group studied subscribers through testing different topics, tones and publication times. Insights were spread throughout VK to find the best combinations to attract younger subscribers. This resulted in the creation of new processes and tools to make journalism a service for younger audiences, something which has been a success. 73% of VK‘s new subscribers in 2021 are 45 and under – a total of 20% of VK‘s subscribers.
NWZ Nordwest Mediengruppe focused on the customer lifetime value by releasing NWZ StudiPlus. In their region, there are 4 universities but just 1% of students are subscribers. With a belief that young people must know about local surroundings to feel at home, NWZ gave students free access to their website and news app when registering with their university email. The cost of this was then balanced by offering exclusive advertising space for this specific logged-in group. NWZ’s market share amongst students has risen to 12%, with revenue from student-related subscriptions increasing by 75%. With implementation costs at less than €1000, the move has been a no-brainer.
Media Innovation Analyst @ Twipe
Get Twipe’s weekly insights on digital publishing, artificial intelligence, and paid content in your mailbox. Sign up here.