Project Ella: Transitioning 100+ Years of Local Print Legacy to Digital Audiences
2021 Finalist

Project Ella: Transitioning 100+ Years of Local Print Legacy to Digital Audiences

News Corp Australia

Surry Hills, Australia

Category Readership and Engagement

Media associated with this campaign

Overview of this campaign

Our newspapers had been in circulation for many decades, published by local families, with long-time support from local businesses and a loyal readership. Although print production would cease, our commitment to local news and our journalists' dedication to bringing their community’s news remained.

A co-ordinated education and retention campaign was launched to engage our audiences with our local digital mastheads and our metropolitan newspaper products.

We needed to cement our brands as advocates for their local communities, so developed localised brand marketing plans to positively position our brands in each community.  Our brand proposition “Local news is here to stay” underpinned every tactical activity to build local sentiment, across outdoor, radio, print, social and digital channels.  

We had two major objectives with our campaign

  1. Transition 10,000 local newspaper customers to digital

We used the last 2 weeks of print circulation in each town as an opportunity to transition print readers to new digital only platforms.   The campaign included education for the predominantly older readers on how and where to get their local news and content online.  We launched new digital editions of the printed format to drive engagement online. We launched two offers to drive digital engagement including a free digital trial and a tablet subscription offer.

This included a Regional Subscriber & Reader Roadshow to educate over 900 readers across six key markets on how to engage with our content online.

In addition, targeted subscriber service communications outlining the closure of the printed product were developed for existing subscribers of the 80+ impacted regional mastheads, also showing how to engage with our content online.

2. Transition 30% of newspaper subscribers to metro print products

To retain our “rusted on” print readers in existing markets, six special regional editions of the metropolitan The Courier-Mail and Daily Telegraph were launched after our local newspapers ceased printing.  These regional editions combined the best local/regional and state based news in a new print format circulated Monday to Friday by region. 


Results for this campaign

The co-ordinated brand, education and offer campaign was extremely successful in migrating and engaging our customers during the transition. 

 Objective 1 - Transition 10,000 print and digital masthead customers to digital only

We launched a Two Month Free Digital Trial offer across the regional network of 50+ newspapers and in 14 towns we also launched a 12 month Tablet Value Bundle offer to entice our predominantly mature newspaper readers to migrate to digital news.

 Our targeted communications to all affected subscribers consisted of letters and eDM campaigns to different cohorts to announce the transition and migrate to their local digital or metropolitan sites.

Our eDM subscriber campaign consisted of 82,846 eDMs with an average open rate of 43.75% and an average click through rate of 23.37%.

Results were strong. We migrated 15,167 digital subscriptions after 3 months, surpassing our expectations by over 50%.

Our new-look digital edition featuring the standout local stories as they would have appeared in paper was launched across regional digital platforms, with 54,972 unique users in 6 weeks post-launch.

Nearly 70% of regional Roadshow attendees are still subscribers, six months post-event.

 Objective 2: Transition 30% of local newspaper subscribers to metro print products

After 8 weeks, the Regionalised editions of The Courier-Mail and Daily Telegraph were performing significantly ahead of expectation, converting 46% of June Regional baseline sales to Metro – 26% above target conversion rate and adding 67,000 average incremental NCA papers each week.


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