In Australia and around the world, true crime continues to be a popular genre of content across multiple media platforms. In the past six months, in particular, News Corp Australia has seen its audiences thrive on true crime content with one-quarter of metro News Corp Australia (NCA) subscribers coming from true crime content.
True crime content continues to be a growing genre for NCA audiences to “pay and stay.” This is a clear indication of the need to listen to the demand and maximise the opportunity to give our readers what they want. Cue the release of On Guard — Stories from Inside Australia’s Toughest Prisons, found exclusively at onguardseries.com.au.
On Guard was a subscriber-exclusive, eight-part multi-media content series that combined eight podcast episodes, written journalism, imagery, and videos. It took readers inside prison walls to uncover what really goes on behind bars, with eight former correctional officers sharing their stories from the frontline of working with some of Australia’s most infamous criminals.
In a company-wide first, the podcast was locked exclusively for digital subscribers and released to the general public upon completion of the series.
Reaching a nation
The main focus of this campaign was to highlight the robust behind-the-scenes-style journalism that our readers couldn’t get anywhere else. To do this, it was imperative for our marketing and PR teams to amplify this campaign using paid assets and News Corp Australia-owned assets that would reach a national audience.
On Guard was marketed through TVCs on state-based free-to-air channels, BVOD and the Foxtel network, targeted paid social media ads, SEM, Regional EDM’s targeted digital ads, press ads in metro and regional News Corp Australia publications, in-store retail point-of-sale across the country, and masthead social platforms.
Specific objectives identified
The key objectives of the On Guard campaign were as follows:
- Digital subscription acquisition: measured via breach subscriptions.
- Digital subscriber engagement: measured via subscriber page views, average engaged time, on-platform listens.
- Non-subscriber awareness and engagement: measured via total page views to the landing page, off-platform listens, and social media results.
The series catered to a key audience segment — true crime lovers — and gave consumers insight into a world that they are rarely given access to.
Finding success with a new model
This ground-breaking true crime series proved that a subscriber-exclusive podcast model can work for News Corp Australia. On a broader level, it has also instilled confidence that consumers are willing to pay for premium audio content.
As a company-wide first trial, the two-pronged audio subscription model of releasing the entire series exclusively for subscribers on-platform before releasing to a mass audience off-platform was deemed a success in acquiring new digital subscriptions. Whilst other shorter windowing models have been trialed before, this was the first series to be completely locked.
The risk was well worth the reward, as News Corp Australia saw the series deliver unprecedented results. This has been attributed to a combination of outstanding journalism and trust built with the interview subjects, audio production values, targeted marketing campaign, striking creative (produced by in-house agency Roller), the bold subscriber-exclusive locking strategy, and extensive publicity.
The model also proved successful for engaging existing subscribers as it was the only place consumers could access the next episode, ensuring their return to our platform throughout the duration of the series.
The success of On Guard has paved the way for a broader true crime premium content strategy, with more exciting series currently in development.