Ultimate Schools Hub
Overview of this campaign
The Ultimate Schools Hub objectives were to:
- generate digital subscriber acquisition;
- retain current subscribers through engagement;
- increase newsroom efficiency by reducing duplication of effort in local markets;
- and deliver engaging education content to parents, a key audience for News Corp Australia mastheads.
The Ultimate Schools Hub is a destination for parents in towns and cities across Australia to find information they need on education and local schools. On their local News Corp Australia masthead website, parents can search for their postcodes to see how local schools compare across a range of data points, including academic results, suspensions, funding, fees and capital expenditure.
A small team of journalists and developers sourced comprehensive datasets containing information on every school in Australia. Much of the data was tightly held by State Governments and Federal Government agencies. Various datasets were obtained through open data, freedom of information requests and website scraping.
This data was interrogated and analysed before it was used to write dozens of news stories and build searchable interactive tables.
These stories were centrally managed by the project team, and then localised for more than 70 News Corp metropolitan, regional and community mastheads across Australia. For each topic local mastheads were provided with interactive searchable tables to let parents see how their school compared to others within their community.
Education stories are significant digital subscription drivers for all News Corp Australia mastheads. Rather than time and effort being spent by each local newsroom sourcing, collating, fact-checking and analysing data to write these stories, the project team managed this process centrally, using formulas to write base stories for each masthead that featured local data from the central dataset, which allowed local newsrooms to focus their time and energy on interesting local angles to make the stories relevant and tailored to their community. This approach ensured all data was consistent and comparable across the country, and gave local reporters an interesting data-led base story to build on.
To date, four Schools Hub chapters have been released, each focusing on a different data topic. A coordinated effort between News Corp Australia’s editorial, marketing and public relations teams successfully raised awareness of the content to concerned parents across the country.
Pointers were placed on front pages across the country, dozens of News Corp websites featured prominent home page takeovers pointing to the coverage as well as appearances of journalists and experts on external media talking about the stories. Please see supporting evidence attached for marketing and PR plans and results.
Results for this campaign
The Ultimate Schools Hub was a first of its kind project in Australia. It aimed to present school and education data in a wider, more engaging and comprehensive way than News Corp Australia had done previously.
The project delivered unparalleled results. It had a 221 percent return on investment, taking into account production, marketing and promotion.
The dozens of stories the project produced generated more than 800 subscriptions, setting a new precedent for digital subscriber acquisition.
The stories generated more than 1.4 million page views including 850,000 subscriber page views. In the launch week, Ultimate Schools Hub stories accounted for 87% of all subscriber page views. The average engagement time for the stories was two minutes and three seconds.
These results demonstrate a high level of reader engagement in this data-led education content. It also demonstrates the success of the project in engaging current subscribers. We know that the more subscribers engage with our content, the less likely they are to churn, so this project is considered a resounding success in our "engage to retain" strategy.
The innovative project set the standard for collaboration within News Corp Australia. More than 70 newsrooms across the country worked collaboratively to deliver these stories, along with teams from central editorial, public relations, marketing, audience development and search engine optimisation. The seamless rollout across so many mastheads has become a model for future national collaborations. The high level of support from each metro, regional and community masthead is a testament to their confidence in the value of the content, and its ability to drive subscription acquisition and retention in their local market.
The evergreen nature of the work has meant the stories continue to generate subscriptions well after the run date. The content has proven to be a must-read for parents who want to see how their child's school performs against other schools in their area and state.
As a result of the overwhelming success of the first four Ultimate Schools Hub chapters, News Corp Australia will to continue to invest in data-led education stories, and the marketing and promotion to ensure this content is read by parents across the country and used to inform decisions on their children's education.