4 pillars lead reader-focused innovation at Il Sole 24 Ore

By Shelley Seale


Austin, Texas, USA


Innovation is at the core of Il Sole 24 Ore, the leading economic and financial information media company in Italy. The company has achieved this with four pillars of transformation that rest largely on its development of a premium digital content strategy.

Karen Nahum, general manager of publishing and digital at Il Sole 24 Ore, shared the four pillars with INMA members during a live Webinar on Wednesday:

  1. Circularity: The newspaper is at the centre of a circular system that includes supplements, magazines, books, e-guides, and digital products.

  2. Innovation: Innovation drives value, at the heart of the daily editorial agenda, and also acts as an internal guideline for success.

  3. Integration: Starting from newsrooms up to product development, Il Sole 24 Ore is based on the integration between media and content, with a cross-platform approach.

  4. Penetration: The reach confirms editorial leadership in the core professional and business segments while expanding the audience with a focus on new opportunities, Millennials, and women.

Il Sole 24 Ore has four key digital objectives for innovation.
Il Sole 24 Ore has four key digital objectives for innovation.

“We continually stretch the outline of the possibility to stretch content and to think on an integrated system of initiative — starting from our core, the newspaper,” Nahum said. 

The Il Sole 24 Ore strategic approach

“We are testing and learning with new tech opportunities and trying to put engagement in every project,” Nahum said. “And then [we have] revenue growth through the digital newspaper and other digital-only products, and we are accelerating and switching. But we still think that [print newspaper] is still an opportunity for a media company.”

Il Sole also continuously evolves its Web site for qualitative ad inventory and opportunities in new areas such as video and audio, branded content, and new topic sections.

Il Sole works on a freemium digital model that offers the team enhancement of the real-time updated information from free content ilsole24ore.com, as well as creation and curation of an active and engaged customer base on the premium, subscription-based content.

“Through continuous innovation of the digital daily newspaper, 24+, which is the new premium section of the site, we continuously test and learn the approach, the bundle and packaging, in a flexible way.”

Nahum shared the three levels of product structure development at Il Sole, along with their key success factors:

  1. The digital newspaper and app: key success factor: a clear offer.
  2. 24+, the premium section of the Web site: key success factor: enabling processes.
  3. The verticals such as Mercati+ and the newsletter: key success factor: a new tone of voice.

The team is obsessed with their offer matrix, she said, which is simple but complete, and able to convey timed offers and special promotions. It includes an optimised conversion funnel in wording and visual for devices, as well as coherent and harmonised pricing between campaigns. They avoid too aggressive price points or promotions.

“Digital conversion is at the core of our strategy, so we test and learn every day, and we think that the core is a customer-centric approach and user experience,” she added.

Enabling these processes with a seamless user experience is key. These processes are built as mobile-first with flexible payment methods, and immediate authentication and check-out.

A new tone of voice

With the premium product, 24+, Il Sole was focused on establishing a new tone of voice for the brand. This required creativity in new value propositions that would attract new and younger audiences.

Il Sole 24 Ore is on a path to hit many milestones for innovation in 2021.
Il Sole 24 Ore is on a path to hit many milestones for innovation in 2021.

Innovation is at the core of everything they do, Nahum said. Milestones for 2021 include a new newspaper, app, Web site home page, newsletters, and e-commerce platform.

A customer data platform is a key element of the strategy and informs the focus of the entire company.

A new format

Establishing a new format for Il Sole 24 Ore offered a better user experience. The team converted to a new and more compact size for the print newspaper and created a clearer layout that improved readability. They also changed the editorial agenda, in terms of which days which content topics would run. 

The app also got a make-over, adding new features such as voice commands, audio versions, better UX for video and podcasts, better integration with 24+ premium content, and new article formats. Users also now receive a daily briefing that is content exclusive to the app.

“The app was an opportunity to innovate,” Nahum said.

Next came time to launch all these new formats. The campaign was called “Reshape the World,” and Il Sole held events to explain the changes and engage key opinion leaders. The main campaign was held on radio, TV, digital, and social media, with special issues on newsstands.

Il Sole 24 Ore launched a campaign for its new, innovative newspaper, Web site, and app.
Il Sole 24 Ore launched a campaign for its new, innovative newspaper, Web site, and app.

The initiative also included engagement plans for certain target audiences, such as women and younger readers, through universities and Instagram.

About Shelley Seale

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