2018 Finalist

Diamonds are forever - Helsingin Sanomat's digital strategy renewall

Sanoma Media Finland / Helsingin Sanomat

Helsinki, Finland

Category Best New Paid Content Or Subscription Initiative

Media associated with this campaign

Overview of this campaign

HS's strategic target is to be a winner of digital transformation, i.e. to sustain our 129-year old legacy of being the number one national newsmedia and source of quality journalism in Finland, by maintaining current level of quality journalism also in a digital only future. In order to do that, our strategic objectives are to

1) Grow in digital subscriptions, especially attract younger subscribers, and

2) Make subscribers digitally active enough to reduce churn.

Reaching the objectives required changing our digital strategy. Metered paywall model wasn't delivering growth anymore. Subscriber base was still significant, but gradually diminishing - and aging. 

Diamond strategy, started in the end of 2016, works for both of the above objectives. Diamonds create a reason to pay (for younger ones previously bypassing the metered paywall) and generate leads for sales. They also make existing subscribers to log-in, resulting in them using more i.e. becoming digitally more active, and churn less. They also show subscribers they don't pay in vain. 

Content startegy, outlined in the beginning of 2017, defined 4 core content areas attracting also younger audiences, and increasing willingness to pay: society, culture, well-being and science. Not only news (seen as a commodity in online, by younger people especially) but quality feature journalism, and not only topics of common importace, but also of personal interest. Best and most unique content is published as Diamonds - and world-class content marketing attracts even more audience to them.

Freemium strategy in apps also targets younger audience, in mobile, and especially in apps in order to create habits and increase usage. When using more, users will run into a diamond article and potentially subscribe - and remain a subscriber when using enough "worth the money". This also requires ambitious, CX-focused development in order to create best-of-class mobile apps.

Results for this campaign

HS has turned subscription base to growth on year-on-year-basis. For the first time in more than 25 years - the era of browser baes internet. This is a historical turnaround.

  • Subcriptions grew +4% year-on-year (Dec/2016 - Dec/2017)
  • Digital paid subacriptions grew +14% y-o-y, ending up being more than 220.000 in the end of 2017
  • Digital paid subscriptions by people under 40 years old grew +27% y-o-y 
  • Digital-only subscriptions grew +37% y-o-y
  • And digital-only subscriptions by people under 40 yo grew +60% y-o-y
  • We managed to do the above and still didn't start shrinking into a subscribers-exclusive smaller media, but sustained a weekly reach of 1,5 million different people, and managed to grow usage by +14% (Q4/2016 avg weekly visits vs. Q4/2017 avg weekly visits)
  • Digital activity of existing subscribers, measured by using HS as logged-in at least on 3 different days per week, grew +47% (Q4/2016 weekly average vs. Q4/2017 weekly average)


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