For more than 165 years, the Chicago Tribune has been Chicago’s premiere storyteller. 

Although the vast majority of the Tribune’s storytelling has happened through the printed editing during that time, the Tribune has also continually worked to build, iterate upon, and optimise its digital experiences —for Chicago Tribune as well as its portfolio of publications, including RedEye, Chicago Magazine, The Mash, and more. 

The effort applied to digital continues to pay off.

Chicago Tribune’s online audience continues to grow, especially on mobile, and its digitalPLUS premium content membership programme continues to more deeply engage readers across devices and find opportunities to meet the digital needs of print subscribers. 

Leading into the summer of 2013, our marketing team recognised the need and the opportunity to better introduce the city of Chicago to the digital experiences that allow the Tribune to thrive in today’s digital age.

Since the people of Chicago spend nearly every day of the summer outdoors, we knew any marketing campaign would need to take advantage of the spectacular weather and the city’s myriad of festivals, events, concerts, and more. 

In June, we debuted our first-ever traveling interactive “road show” marketing campaign, which consisted of three fully wrapped, Tribune-branded delivery trucks – the ones all too familiar to Chicagoans who leave for work before sunrise each day – retrofitted to support the display of LCD panels and free-standing digital display units. 

These interactive mobile displays featured Chicago Tribune videos and Web sites on touch screens, tablets, mobile devices, and televisions so audiences could connect directly with the Tribune’s trademark content across all available digital platforms.

Audiences had the chance to use the Chicago Tribune as if it were on their own device, taken out of their own pocket, at their convenience.

The road show campaign took the marketing team to the Taste of Chicago, one of the city’s most highly attended and longest-running annual summer events, as well as the Air & Water Show, Chicago Blues Fest, and other street and music festivals Chicagoans flock to throughout the year. 

By the end of 2013, the campaign had:

  • Reached more than 3.5 million consumers across 44 total activation days with the full Chicago Tribune digitalCopy experience.

  • Led to an 87% increase in paying digital-only subscribers.

  • Led to a 25% increase in total paying digital subscribers, including print + digital.

  • Increased Chicago Tribune registered readership (non-paying, but registered users of digital content) to more than 625,000.

This group of registered readers represents a highly valuable set of readers who are primed for conversion into paying memberships. And, this audience helped drive our greater than 80% year-over-year growth in use of Chicago Tribune’s mobile responsive Web site in the final half of 2013. 

With the summer of 2014 in full swing, the Chicago Tribune marketing team continues to look forward to what’s ahead for its audiences and how it can continue to engage them with the richest content and greatest storytelling available.