Ten North American news media companies have been selected for the Google News Initiative Digital Growth Programme’s Audience Lab, which begins today.
The North America Audience Lab participants, a mix of digital-first and legacy brands, are:
- Cold Tea Collective
- The Current GA
- The Discourse
- Journal Gazette
- National Catholic Reporter Online
- Retro Report
- Le Soleil
- The Trace
- Univision Sacramento
The Audience Lab is part of a broader Digital Growth Programme run by the Google News Initiative and partner organisations, which aims to help small- to mid-sized news organisations globally to succeed online.
The GNI Digital Growth Programme involves playbooks, interactive exercises, workshops, and labs that collectively bring together best practices from around the world into a single destination on the GNI Web site. Audience development is one of five topics covered under this programme, which also includes reader revenue, advertising revenue, data, and product. Similar Audience Labs are being run in Asia Pacific, Brazil, and Latin America, in collaboration with industry experts, including INMA.
The North America Audience Development Programme involved free workshops for news media companies that attracted more than 3,000 participants from 2,100 unique publishers across sessions in the past three months. Workshops — which brought together presenters from Google, local publications, and industry experts (including INMA representatives) — are still available on-demand in six languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean and Indonesian. The next phase of the programme involves a Lab for the 10 North American publishers selected. The Lab is scheduled to run through September.
The North American Lab involves a collaboration with Google, the International News Media Association (INMA), and the News Revenue Hub.
The lab’s curriculum will cover:
- Setting audience goals.
- Developing a deeper understanding of participants’ audiences’ needs.
- Optimising the user funnel, focusing on key activities to grow and engage audiences.
- Building an organisational culture focused on iteration, experimentation, and data.
All participants will receive audits and recommendations on their discoverability, newsletters, user experience, layout, as well as an audience segmentation analysis during the 15-week-long programme.
The leads for the three partner organisations behind the Audience Lab lauded the partnership and the initiative:
News Revenue Hub: “The News Revenue Hub looks forward to helping this diverse group of news outlets implement proven best practices to reach and retain broader digital audiences,” said Mary Walter-Brown, News Revenue Hub founder and CEO. “These newsrooms are producing incredibly important journalism so it’s equally important to make sure as many people as possible are discovering it. The work we lead in the Lab will focus on helping the cohort hardwire effective strategies and workflows that prioritise developing loyal, invested audiences that will ultimately support the critical reporting they produce.”
Google: Ben Monnie, director of global partnerships solutions at Google, said: “We are excited to partner with INMA and News Revenue Hub on the latest round of the GNI Audience Labs in North America, following the completion of our free Audience Development workshop series, which served over 2,100 news publishers globally and is available on-demand. Growing audience reach and loyalty are essential to helping news organisations maximise their journalistic impact and build sustainable and thriving businesses — this programme, built around the powerful News Consumer Insights tool, aims to equip participating publishers with the skills, confidence, and user-first mindset to accomplish this.”
INMA: “The Audience Lab provides in-depth, practical, hands-on training on audience development capabilities that need to become the standard for news media companies,” said Earl J. Wilkinson, executive director and CEO of the International News Media Association. “The mix of legacy and digital news brands should provide a collaborative learning environment unparalleled in the news industry.”