Times’ “edition-led” strategy is growing, monetising multi-media audiences

By Dylan Wyn Pugh

In April, we published our aggregate weekly cross-platform reach for both The Times and The Sunday Times.

Independently verified and de-duplicated by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for the second year running, it tells a good story, showing year-on-year growth and healthy weekly audience figures of 4.574 million and 3.449 million for the daily and Sunday titles respectively.

But this is no overnight success.

The strategy we are implementing today at News UK across all our brands started for The Times and The Sunday Times back in 2010. This focused in large part on recognising that the appeal of news brands lies in their authority and brand identity.

It is no secret the national press market in the United Kingdom employs a range of different commercial models, with some brands bearing little similarity among their platforms other than a masthead.

What we believe clearly unifies our audience’s primary reason for consumption of our quality titles is a trusted “curated edition of the news.” Our consumers want the voice of our titles wherever they’re reading them, and that’s what makes them engage with that title in a unique way.

This edition-led strategy is what we champion for both our consumers and our advertisers.

With the proliferation of tablets and smartphones, we have seen the consumption habits of our audience evolving rapidly. Because of this, our challenge has been focused around how we deliver this consistent, edition-led experience across multiple platforms so our audience can select the platform of choice to suit their particular needs at the time of consumption.

Back in 2008, we launched the world’s most advanced printing presses, efficiently printing full-colour editions to tighter deadlines.

Five years on, we have made a similar commitment to content publishing across our digital platforms.

We have invested in a single content management system, known as Newsroom 360, enabling us to create our content once and publish it across all platforms, as well as across different screen sizes and multiple operating systems. All the while, it delivers a consistent look and feel.

This was a significant investment and upheaval to our working practices. But the result is that we now run a much more streamlined publishing model, which enables content consistency across platforms.

So while we deliver a consistent experience across platforms to a growing subscriber base of more than 350,000 Times and Sunday Times readers, the next challenge is to make our total audience available to our advertisers.

This was the driving force behind working with PwC as we sought to report and verify a de-duplicated daily and weekly audience in the absence of any industry measurement tools that could keep pace with our business model.

We now pull all large-sized ads from the newspaper onto the tablet, as the two platforms that share the most similar synergies of consumption (linear reading behaviour and time spent). Our most motivated advertisers are paying for interactivity on the tablet while also including the mobile and Web to their campaigns to reach a total brand audience in any given day.

There is, of course, much more to the success that we’re seeing in the PwC numbers. Our paid-for strategy ensures that audience growth is directly monetised whilst also giving us a closer relationship to readers.

We’re also pushing the forefront of innovation in news with projects such as our News 3.0 initiative (a new, face-to-face consumer engagement project). What these approaches have created, however, is an all too rare example of sustainable and monetised growth in the newspaper industry.

About Dylan Wyn Pugh

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