NewsCorp has detailed some of the moves it made in a bid to convert readers of former APN regional papers to the group’s metro websites in Brisbane and Sydney.
In an INMA Ideas Blog, product general manager for metros, regionals and sport Maggie Burke explains the moves made to win readers to the site… and keep them there by personalising news with state-based mastheads.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, News Corp Australia had closed hundreds of regional print mastheads, many of which it had only recently acquired.
In preparation, ‘Project Bob’ had seen the relaunch of faster, cleaner apps for the four state-based mastheads, delivering an “unprecedented level of personalisation” which allowed audiences to choose which news they follow.
In Queensland and New South Wales regional audiences had to be migrated from standalone local and community websites – many of which had been attached to the former APN mastheads – to a dedicated part of the state-based Courier-Mail and Daily Telegraph sites after standalone sites had been retired.
Burke says the task had the potential to create “the mother of all churn events”. Understanding the role these mastheads had played within their communities, many of which are geographically remote, Burke says the goal was to create sustainable footing for their regional journalism so people in these areas could continue to access news that mattered most to them.
“And we wanted them to be able to do it in a way that enhanced their experience to create even greater engagement,” she says.
A carefully coordinated digital response included creating a postcode widget for websites and apps that enabled consumers to enter their postcode to set their location and receive the four most relevant stories on their homepage based on their location.
A link also connected readers to a dedicated section which included the masthead logo of their original paper, and presented as a mini homepage for their local area with its individual masthead.
To do this, the four-figure postcodes of localities in NSW and Queensland state areas were mapped against relevant newsrooms to ensure the stories shown were the most relevant to where they lived.
Additionally, readers could follow favourite local journalists through a My News feature.
“When we undertook this complex programme of work, we knew immediately it had the potential to cause subscriber churn,” said Maggie Burke, “but it was as seamless a transition as possible, thanks to the meticulous work carried out.”
Churn was kept to a minimum by helping audiences through the major change, including prepopulating individual postcodes where they were known.
“Our audiences are now enjoying not only their local news but also receiving the best in state-based, national and international news in the Daily Telegraph and the Courier-Mail,” she says.
“And best of all, audiences now receive a new level of access to their local news not previously possible.”