2016 Finalist

Conversion Helper - the tool to boost subscriptions


Oslo, Norway

Category Data Analytics

Media associated with this campaign

Overview of this campaign

VG’s premium digital product, VG+ recently surpassed the 75 000 paying subscriber mark. VG+ is a five year old product published by a tabloid newspaper with no history of subscriptions.

VG+ (digital only) is now the fourth largest newspaper in Norway with ambitions to surpass the 100,000 subscriber milestone in 2016. In a country with a population of just over 5 million people the subscription numbers are starting to be substantial.

At VG breaking news is available for free and is ad supported on our popular website www.vg.no. Premium VG+ content is also promoted through the same site and is interspersed among free and open content. Data insight helps determine what content we promote taking both the commercial and editorial requirements into consideration.

The commercial breakthrough came in the Autumn of 2012 when we could track the conversion funnel from promoting premium content on vg.no all the way to creating active paying subscribers. This was just the start of our data informed decision making transformation.

The next steps were to
- Try and extract the full potential of each article to convert readers to paying subscribers. Finding optimal article promotion lifetime and front placement.
- Transition from a gut-feeling driven organisation to a data informed organisation.
- Determine what kind of premium article content should be promoted on our free website vg.no.
- Determine where on the front page premium articles should be placed.

Results for this campaign

Our solution was to develop an editorial tool called the Conversion Helper. The Conversion Helper provides the editorial desk with recommendations for each premium article placement on vg.no (the largest media site in Norway). The focus is on maximising the full sales potential of the premium VG+ articles by monitoring the conversion rates. The conversion rate is defined as the proportion between the number of sales and paywall visits.
The tool was developed by a cross functional team of developers, designers and data scientists using commercial and editorial insights, data and machine learning.
Historical and live data is used as input to the Conversion helper algorithm to determine which position on the front page the premium articles should be promoted.

- After we started to use tool the conversion rate has increased by 54% and the expected number of sales per day has also increased significantly (+ 40% ).

- Before the Conversion Helper we based our daily decisions purely on gut feeling about which premium articles we believed would create the most subscribers. Today the editorial staff use the Conversion Helper continuously to curate the optimal article placements on the front of vg.no.

- The technology, journalism and commercial departments working with VG+ all use data to drive decisions and the dialog between departments has evolved to include a shared data informed vocabulary.

- The Conversion Helper also helps us to determine which stories we can repromote, for example the article “Get fit in 7 weeks” was originally published in November 2014 and has become one of the best selling articles also in 2015 through repromotion.

- The front page of vg.no is now edited based on the conversion numbers.

More information available at http://www.inma.org/blogs/mobile-tablets/post.cfm/data-insight-at-the-heart-of-audience-engagement-at-vg


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