Nine Publishing meets young reader needs with hub featuring university news, tools

By Monique Farmer

Nine Publishing



By Jacqueline Lunn

Nine Publishing



In November 2023, Nine Publishing’s metropolitan mastheads (The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Brisbane Times, and WAtoday) launched Campus, a digital hub for students embarking on, and navigating their way through, university and college life.

Since its launch, the hub’s content has attracted more than 5.5 million pageviews and included two of our most read stories during that time.

Campus has exceeded our expectations in terms of new audience reach and engagement. Due to our investment in this content, the hub has also unlocked lucrative new partnerships with universities across the country, making it both a revenue and engagement success.

So, how did Campus do it?

It’s no secret media companies around the world are trying to attract younger readers. Higher education content is an opportunity to reach that audience and, at the very least, increase brand awareness so when students are ready to convert to subscribers, our mastheads are top of mind.

The Campus hub has attracted more than 5.5 million pageviews.
The Campus hub has attracted more than 5.5 million pageviews.

Campus content is squarely aimed at university and college students, high school students contemplating their next stage of life, and international students. (At Sydney University alone, international students make up nearly 50% of the cohort.) Parents of students, who are our subscribers, also engage with the content.

We wanted our offering to be authentic, so during the planning process we ensured younger members of staff gave feedback on Campus. They also helped ideate and commission content.

We also sought out younger writers. While we included higher education news in Campus, we broadened the offering with service journalism, data-led stories, and beautifully written opinion pieces that made the audience feel heard and represented. We used new article formats to appeal to younger readers and created a “Campus look” with illustrations.

It was during this planning phase that we were approached by our commercial team, which had briefs on the table from universities and colleges around Australia. These institutions were looking for the right environment to get in front of the right audience.

Our four mastheads have a near-national reach. With the newsroom targeting the same audience, we could now plan — from the outset — a hub that was an engaging experience for this audience and rewarding for advertisers, while aligning with our brand values.

Growing what works already

Education content has long been an incredibly strong performer for our mastheads; it is the fifth best performing topic for converting readers to subscribers. Our newsrooms cover this topic comprehensively with a diverse story base that includes:

  • Interactive, search-based stories on the top-performing schools in terms of ATAR scores (university entrance scores).
  • Data-rich articles on what subjects scaled the best in final exams.
  • First-person accounts of sitting exams.
  • Popular study guides for students.
  • Have-to-share-in-WhatsApp-groups articles revealing the most expensive private schools in Australia.

The coverage reaches students and their parents, and extends far beyond education news.

Higher education — covered with the same depth, breadth, and audience focus — was a natural content extension. Editors backed the commitment to this new audience by appointing dedicated higher education reporters and hosting a roundtable discussion with university vice chancellors. We did our research, and we resourced.

Offering audiences a unique selling proposition (USP)

From the outset, we wanted Campus to be packed with utility for the reader. As part of that utility, we set out to answer one of the most-asked student questions: What can I study at university and what mark do I need to study it? This functionality was also designed to draw them back to the site again and again.

We worked with both the Nine Publishing product team and the Metro premium content team to create a university course search engine. The search engine enabled readers to search for courses, compare entry requirements, and click through to course information.

Significantly, this search engine allowed readers to compare, in one place, the entry requirements for university courses in different states and the Australian Capital Territory. Previously, students could only search university courses state-by-state.

Campus has now hosted about 80 articles and has already extended its coverage to post-graduate studies.

What’s the next stage of Campus? We will continue to serve the needs of undergraduate students, and we will also grow the content and functionality for people considering post-graduate study, including interactive course search for online courses, short courses, and MBAs. There will also be a focus on increasing awareness around our current student subscription offer.

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