The World in 2018
2018 Finalist

The World in 2018

The Economist

London, United Kingdom

Category Best Idea to Grow Digital Readership or Engagement

Overview of this campaign

1.Tackling a structural decline in print advertising revenue

With a business model built mainly upon print advertising, the very existence of The World in… beyond 2022 was threatened.

The Economist is under no illusions. Print advertising is in terminal decline and there will be no renaissance. What’s more 95% of new advertising revenue is being placed in digital formats*.

The future success of the title relied on building a business model that would allow it to benefit from the shift towards digital. To survive, The World in… had to be revolutionised.

2.Building circulation that is appropriate for a digital future  

Not only are print ad revenues declining, but the costs of printing and distributing 1M copies are onerous, especially since 600k of those copies are gifted to subscribers of The Economist.

Plus, the standalone mobile app for The World in 2017 had produced only 9k downloads for a marketing cost of £100k.

To fix this model, The World in… would be included within The Economist app, with the aim of achieving 300k ‘opens’ of The World in 2018, transforming a previously 100% print circulation.

This required a brave leap of faith. To reap the commercial benefits of rebalancing circulation, 300k fewer print copies were printed, risking the possibility of having to refund advertisers should circulation targets not be met.

3.Confident body language for the brand

To turbocharge the future success of The World in… investment was needed in the brand.

Substantial budget was invested in a high-quality marketing campaign to build the brand, increase the number of people reading The World in 2018, and convince advertisers that their brands would benefit from being associated with a thriving publication. Daniel Franklin, Editor of The World in… embarked on an unprecedented worldwide tour of interviews, which resulted in The World in 2018 being showcased in national media around the world.


* Advertising Association and Warc Expenditure Report, 2018

Results for this campaign

Revolutionising The World in 2018 reaped immediate returns. The World in 2018 generated 4x the target digital ad revenue, which was also 6x greater than the previous year. Not only that, a whole new revenue stream was identified with more than £0.2M being brought in from a first-time sale of a video sponsorship opportunity.

Meanwhile, the brave but calculated decision to deliver 30% of total circulation in digital format paid off. Print cost savings of more than £0.3M were realised, and digital opens of The World In 2018 edition soared past the 300k target, creating an audience of engaged, digital readers.

However, it was perhaps the more intangible elements of the strategy that were most impactful. The entire approach was typified by a renewed sense of purpose for The World in… as a brand and a business.

Investment in a stunning marketing campaign added a finishing touch to a change in body language. Combined with the new digital strategy and investment in PR, it gave ad sales teams something exciting to talk about, and contributed to our biggest and most welcome surprise – an 84% year on year increase in print ad revenue.And The World in 2018 didn’t just halt a 5 year decline in print advertising income, it bucked an industry-wide trend altogether by outperforming forecast by 82%.

Furthermore, The World in 2018 delivered a profit of almost £3M, a 41% increase on the previous year, growth that is likely unprecedented in today’s media and publishing environment. And the strategic shift has provided a model that secures the short and medium term future of The World in... as a commercially-viable business.


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