Discussion during the Brainsnack session leading off the 86th-Annual INMA World Congress in London turned to the subject of audience, with 7-minute presentations from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Zero Hora, and and Star Media Group sharing successful case studies.

Laura Inman Nolan, senior director of audience engagement at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, focused on using data to drive engagement strategy: “It’s really the foundation of our digital business.”

Laura Inman Nolan, senior director of audience engagement at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, discussed the role data plays at AJC.
Laura Inman Nolan, senior director of audience engagement at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, discussed the role data plays at AJC.

Engagement drives pricing power for AJC. Users are priced differently based on their amount of engagement. Although highly engaged users are charged higher prices, they receive a higher value.

“Obviously, engaged users retain better,” she said. 

Today, AJC has 496,000 subscribers to print and digital. Of its subscribers, 56% are registered subscribers, 38% engaged subscribers and 13% loyal subscribers. 

Marcelo Leite, Newspaper Commercial Director at Zero Hora-RBS, discusses the company's tablet strategy.
Marcelo Leite, Newspaper Commercial Director at Zero Hora-RBS, discusses the company's tablet strategy.

Marcelo Leite, newspaper commercial director at Zero Hora-RBS in Brazil, shared the story of how the companys Zero Hora Tablet answered a key revenue problem.

Print products became more expensive for the company between printing and delivery costs, however, its audience was reluctant to switch from the newspaper to the Web.

The company’s end goal was to launch a product with a higher margin and appeal to a traditional print customer. Zero Hora catered to its local audience by creating the ZH tablet, a new subscription model where customers get an exclusive tablet.

The tablet was the solution to many problems: “The Zero Hora tablet has been a transition from print to digital.”  

The tablet in particular helped more traditional customers in transitioning. 

“Understanding customer behaviour is very very critical,” he said. 

There’s an interesting behaviour factor in the way Zero Hora’s consumers like to consume its products: “They like to know that from the first and last page of the newspaper they are going to find certain things.” 

The company now has a 3,000 subscriber base. Zeite believes the tablet is the key to win back former print subscribers and a transitional tool. 

Christopher Goodridge, chief operating officer of Digital Star Media Group, shares details about the Star Touch tablet app.
Christopher Goodridge, chief operating officer of Digital Star Media Group, shares details about the Star Touch tablet app.

Wrapping up the audience engagement focus of Brainsnacks, Christopher Goodridge, chief operating officer/digital at Star Media Group in Canada, spoke about the implementation of the Star Touch tablet app. 

The Toronto Star looked at the app created by its competitor, La Presse, before launching its own. La Presse’s app launched in 2013 after over two years of research and developing the app, and has 250,000 daily users. La Presse ceased publishing weekday newspapers January 1, 2016.

The Star Touch free free app launched September 15, 2015, and has more than 240,000 downloads. Some users struggle to comprehend the app is free based on the high quality, Goodridge said.

The Toronto Star used a multi-platform approach. Out of its 2.3 million print and digital readers, 642,000 are digital only. Although the company has a strong usage across desktop, mobile and tablet, its digital audience spends less time with its journalism. 

The implementation of the app not only changed the way the Stars customers consumed news, it also changed the company’s newsroom. Storytelling became more collaborative by using different ways to tell stories.

“If a video tells a story better, we use a video,” Goodridge said.