Fairfax Media print + digital campaign delivers high engagement and bums on seats

By Nimesh Amin and Nicola Igusa

When faced with the daunting task of prompting Kiwis — the largest international tourist group to Australia — to venture beyond the well-known and -loved East Coast metropolitan destinations, Tourism Australia teamed up with Fairfax Media to create a multi-platform, integrated campaign, covering bespoke co-created content, traditional advertising, promotions, and audience engagement.

The campaign tapped into reader behaviour, offering readers a chance to share their own travel gems and tips with fellow travelers, and to continue to be inspired by trusted editorial travel aficionados.

The response to the campaign was enormous, far exceeding targets and delivering media value four times greater than the original spend.

New Zealanders love traveling to Australia. It’s close, convenient, and different enough from home to offer an exciting break. However, Tourism Australia’s research showed that most Kiwi travelers thought of Australia in terms of East Coast destinations, with few reaching beyond the major city destinations.

Tourism Australia New Zealanders to become excited about the richness of experience Australia offers and to increase the number of visitors outside of the East Coast metropolitan areas.

“Kiwis have a love affair with Australia and travel there many times in their lifespan, so we wanted to continue to engage and inspire them with an ‘Aussie Bucket List’ of destinations and experiences,” said Jenny Aitken, general manager of Tourism Australia. “Fairfax provided both a platform and multi-channel media partnership to reach Kiwi travelers. Importantly, Fairfax also understood we needed to measure campaign effectiveness, and delivered valuable insights we took into each phase.”

Working in partnership with Tourism Australia’s media agency OMD, Fairfax Media developed a four-phase Amazing Australia campaign, which combined advertising and co-created and user-generated content across multiple platforms from the Fairfax Media stable: Sunday Star-Times, Stuff.co.nz, Escape, NZ House and Garden, NZ Life & Leisure and Cuisine.

Fairfax Media connects with 62% of New Zealanders ages 25 to 64 who intend to travel in the next 12 months. Stuff.co.nz is New Zealand’s largest travel site by New Zealand audience with 293,000. Fairfax readers ages 25 to 63 who intend to travel in the next 12 months spend AUS$2.6 million overseas as a group each week — 65.9% of the total New Zealand weekly spend.

Knowing that travel decisions are influenced both by key editorial spokespeople and by the traveler’s peers, the campaign combined content created in collaboration with Fairfax Media’s editors and writers, as well as offering readers the opportunity to have their own say and share information.

Tourism Australia’s Marketing Manager Tony Rogers says engaging and inspiring travelers was crucial to the campaign’s success: “We need to engage our target audience with inspirational content in environments where they are already looking for travel content. All the indicators demonstrate that through our Fairfax media partnership we have the message, channels, and mix right on the money.”

All editorial content was accompanied by advertising with relevant links, designed to simplify the booking and information gathering process. Amazing Australia rolled out in four phases:

Phase one was dedicated to building audience engagement. On Australia Day 2012, we launched the “Expert List,” which visually highlighted less well-known Australian destinations. We prompted readers to vote for their favourite experience, incentivised with a competition to win their own Amazing Australia experience.

Traffic was driven to the Expert List hub both above and below the line, via print and digital advertising, direct message, event-driven marketing, and social media engagement via Facebook. Readers were encouraged to share via Facebook and Twitter, then rewarded with an additional competition entry.

Engagement with the Expert List far exceeded the targeted 20,000 entries, with a total of more than 76,000 entries.

In phase two, Australia’s Amazing 100 list was announced, based on the votes in phase one. Campaign advertising emphasised each destination “as voted by Kiwis,” and traffic to the final list was again driven through multiple channels above and below the line.

To ensure the campaign freshness, phase three sought to re-engage readers, using one of the most popular features of Stuff.co.nz — the daily quiz. Readers were asked to answer a series of questions about Australia, incentivised by a competition to win another Amazing Australia experience. The quiz and competition were again promoted using print and digital advertising, direct message, event-driven marketing, and Facebook.

Phase four featured richer, deeper content, amplified through the Amazing Australia magazine series, including reverse booklets on Sunday magazine and digital e-magazine extensions.

As part of the partnership, Fairfax Media commissioned research through Colmar Brunton to measure and report on awareness and engagement levels.

The advertising effectiveness study looked at the effectiveness of the online destination in shaping attitudes toward Australia as a holiday destination. The methodology asked the same attitudinal questions of those who had interacted with online content as with those who had not.

Key measures around awareness, favourability, consideration, and recommendation then enabled a comparison to determine effectiveness. By also asking about respondents’ reading habits, we ascertained the impact of the Fairfax print media on those key metrics.

“We had to determine how to provide an online-specific measurement tool that could be used to measure the effect of an integrated campaign where the real value was through the content, not advertising,” says Nigel Tutt, general manager of Fairfax Digital. “The research was the acid test that great, engaging content can change people’s perceptions.”

The integrated Amazing Australia campaign was highly effective. Each element delivered impressive results in its own right. But when respondents were exposed to multiple elements, the effects were greatly magnified, showcasing the importance of multi-platform communications.

Tourism Australia’s key messages were also more readily absorbed by readers: people who had seen the campaign in print and online agreed that Australia “offers a wide range of diverse experiences for travelers” (up 6.1%) and “has a lot to do for travelers outside the main cities” (up 11.6%) vs. those who had not been exposed to the campaign.

The campaign also performed very well compared to global benchmarks of brand metrics, with all measures above average, and several, well above average.

The Sunday magazine reverse booklets also delivered positive results. Research using Fairfax reader panels stated that for those who bought or read the newspaper, 87% of the target market saw the Amazing Australia booklet; 69% said as a result of reading the booklet, they were more likely to think about traveling outside Australia’s main centres.

Overall, the campaign exceeded all set KPIs (key performance indicators). Importantly, the Australian national carrier Qantas saw an increase in leads and revenue during the campaign, indicating the efficacy of the campaign in encouraging New Zealanders not only to dream about traveling outside the East Coast metropolitan centres, but to actually book holidays.

The partnership between Tourism Australia, OMD, and Fairfax Media has delivered. The campaign has now progressed into its second year of collaboration between the three main players.

About Nimesh Amin and Nicola Igusa

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