Fairfax Media - Project Blue
2018 Finalist

Fairfax Media - Project Blue

Fairfax Media

Pyrmont, Australia

Category Culture and People

Media associated with this campaign

Overview of this campaign

We launched Project Blue with a simple hypothesis: if you had a blank sheet of paper to start a media business, you wouldn't build one the same way again.

Today’s fast-moving media landscape paired with the existential threat of changing consumer behaviour means that media businesses must act like tech businesses, able to agilely and proactively respond to change.

But with a 187 year history, Fairfax Media was still tied to the foundations of a legacy print business. Complex, embedded systems affected the pace of change, and engendered a corporate culture where innovation was challenging.

We knew we needed to disrupt ourselves if we were to create a sustainable, digital media business that could meet the challenges of a modern media industry.

Nothing short of total transformation was going to enable us to continue to fulfill our responsibility to our community in delivering independent journalism, and our responsibility to our advertisers in offering world-class commercial products.

To incubate the total cultural and operational transformation we knew was required, we launched Project Blue. We built a team, based in a neighbouring suburb, which operated independently of the core Fairfax business The team included experts from Fairfax and key external hires in product, UX and tech.

Tasked with rethinking the fundamentals of our digital publishing business, we gave the Project Blue team a blank sheet of paper and permission to reimagine the model using agile fundamentals, design thinking and a best-in-class tech solutions.

Results for this campaign

Project Blue has transformed the technology foundations of the Fairfax Media business. Innovation is now the cornerstone of the product and commercial roadmap. An agile footprint has seen our development time shorten to hours, not months, and we have measured our success via technology, cultural and commercial outcomes.

Technology Transformation

  • Embedding continuous improvement: we now deliver two releases per day, driving a test-and-learn mentality that informs our product and commercial strategy.
  • Future-proofing content distribution: we created a bespoke content API to ensure our content delivery strategy is platform-agnostic and flexible for changing consumer news habits. This includes existing platforms as well as emerging channels like Google Home.
  • Empowering editorial: with our new, in-house built content management system, the newsroom directly curates the news experience for our audience across platforms with minimal tech effort and response time.

Cultural Change

  • Driving inclusivity: we meet for fortnightly showcases where we share wins, offering accountability and recognition of individual achievement.
  • Building openness: we share progress in real-time with dashboards across the office highlighting velocity rate, effort rate, success rate and how we’re tracking in our fortnightly sprints. This has encouraged a culture where each team member owns their contribution and promotes common goals of agility and transparency.

Commercial Outcomes

  • Leading the market: with a commercial product proposition that places audience behaviour at its centre, it is now easier for our advertisers to access data-driven media buys delivering increased viewability and engagement.
  • Validating our hypotheses: we relaunched Brisbane Times, our masthead in Queensland, on a new tech stack and editorial system. The relaunch saw audience engagement on article pages increase by 54% overall. The improvements to the mobile experience were particularly strong with a 59% increase in mobile article views and a 38% increase in article views per session in response to the world-class responsive product design.



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