You need to get innovation out of the lab,” Julie Murtha, director of audience development and innovation at Toronto Star, said at the INMA Business Strategies 2020 Conference in Chicago. 

“You need it to be operationalised. You need people who are focused on innovation, who think about it all the time, who work on programmes and ideas that will facilitate revenue growth, bring new ideas into the business, and really develop those ideas that we can take into the future.”

Murtha discussed three stages of innovation:

1. Sustaining innovation: This is the Star’s traditional core business, Murtha explains. “While it may be traditional, it may be about special sections or new ad units, it’s important to celebrate the fact that we’re doing and generating new advertising or new revenue in any category.”

2. Break-out innovation: Looking at the traditional business in new ways. “Are there ways that we can generate revenue from Newspapers-In-Education, for instance? Or from traditional special sections that we’ve done in the past? Can we go after new advertisers?”

3. New business models: Toronto Star recently launched Headline Coffee, a coffee subscription service, Murtha says. “We’re looking at ways that we can monetise our audience in new ways using our core capability.”