New Zealand Herald Case Study

Driving Reader Engagement and Advertising Revenue with Data

As New Zealand’s largest publisher, APN NZ Media manages a portfolio of newspaper, digital and magazine titles that reach more than 2.6 million people every week. As the country’s major news outlet, the New Zealand Herald works to maintain its position as a national market-leading content publisher during a time of increasing competition for reader attention and loyalty. This means that innovation on the paper’s digital edition, NZ Herald Online (www.nzherald.co.nz), is critical to ensuring that both reader engagement as well as revenue from advertisers looking to reach that audience continues to grow. In order to achieve both objectives, the New Zealand Herald recognized that it needed to develop a more complete picture of its readers.

APN NZ Media’s senior product manager for digital, Umesh Sripad, knew the first step to better developing deep customer intelligence was through visitor registration. By building more robust reader profiles, the Herald could accomplish two goals:

  • Create more compelling and customized experiences for site visitors by using profile data to inform content recommendations and advertisements.
  • Grow display advertising business by using customer data to develop more narrowly-defined and targeted audiences.
If we’re going to provide the best customer experience, we need to know who our customers are, and that’s where login and registration and data collection come in.
umesh-sripadUmesh SripadSenior Product Manager

After evaluating several registration and customer profile management platforms, Janrain was chosen for both social login and traditional registration due to its robust feature set, ease of installation and options for customization. “As publishers, it’s vital for us to understand our customers and deliver content and advertisements to their liking, and Janrain provided us with the perfect platform to achieve this,” said Sripad.

By offering site visitors the ability to sign in to its digital properties using an existing social identity, the New Zealand Herald was able to remove barriers to account creation by eliminating lengthy forms that are often inconvenient, and especially difficult to navigate on a mobile device. Most importantly, registration and social login would enable the publisher to ask for permission to collect, manage and store rich demographic and psychographic data from otherwise anonymous visitors that would help them better understand the composition of their readership.

Says Sripad,

It’s important to get these insights about a customer, so we can actually personalize the content and advertisements, and increase their engagement with our products.

Within just months of deploying Janrain’s social login and registration on NZ Herald Online and its iOS and Android mobile applications, measurable visitor engagement across their digital properties increased significantly:

Average of nearly 500 new accounts created per day on tablet and mobile sites within the first four months of release

In addition, the New Zealand Herald saw increases in unique site visitors across digital channels as a result of new features made available to readers who created an account. A proven best practice for driving registration is the “give to get” principle—offering visitors an incentive for registering, or a feature that enhances the user’s experience that is only available through registration. The New Zealand Herald did this by introducing “News in the Cloud,” a service that allows a registered user to save articles to their profile to read later.

Because the user profile was now centralized across all digital platforms, this meant that a logged in user could save content on the web, which they could later access from any of their mobile devices. Sripad says, “Now our users can use one login to access content across all channels, which has proven to be really valuable. We’ve gotten feedback from customers telling us that being able to sign in on one platform and then read saved content on another is helping them to actually keep up with the news.” Since offering this feature alongside their new streamlined registration experience, their digital team has seen:

23% increase in weekly unique visitors to their mobile site
18% increase in weekly unique visitors to their IOS and Android apps
19% increase in weekly unique visitors to their iPad app
30% increase in users who comment on articles

Social sharing has also helped drive engagement among registered subscribers while growing site readership. The digital team has seen:

24% growth in the number of weekly unique web visitors from social referrals
24% increase in the total time visitors from a social referral spent on the site
12% increase in unique visitors to the mobile site from social referrals

As engagement metrics skyrocketed, the New Zealand Herald’s targeted advertising business also saw strong results. With access to a wealth of self-declared data from their readers’ multiple social identities, they were able to begin identifying highly-targeted audience segments that allowed them to display more relevant ads. When compared to the same period in the previous year, prior to implementing social login and registration, they measured:

47% growth in revenue from targeted advertisements
20% increase in advertiser CPM (cost per impression)

By equipping their site with a streamlined registration and login flow that greatly reduced barriers to account creation across all of their digital platforms, offering valuable features like “News in the Cloud” to registered users, enabling social sharing tools to encourage content distribution and generate referral traffic back to their site, and leveraging customer profile data to gain deeper understanding of their readership and create targeted audience segments, the New Zealand Herald has been able to accomplish both of their key goals: deepening engagement with their readers by enhancing and personalizing their digital experiences as well as creating higher-value audience segments for targeted advertisements that helped them command higher CPMs for their inventory.

According to Sripad,

Data is pinnacle for any publisher to offer the best experience for its customers. In order to acquire the data, we need a perfect platform that offers frictionless registration and a repository to store that valuable information, and this is what drove us toward Janrain as our preferred vendor. Janrain as a product, and its team of engineers and architects were very helpful in implementing the bulletproof solution for the New Zealand Herald across our web and mobile sites and apps.

About APN NZ Media

APN NZ Media is New Zealand’s largest publisher, with a portfolio of market-leading newspaper, digital and magazine titles, that engage with almost 2.3 million people every week across print and digital platforms. At APN, we have the most influential and engaging news and entertainment brands including The New Zealand Herald—across print, web, mobile and tablet—New Zealand Woman’s Weekly and NZ Listener magazines.

The New Zealand Herald is the flagship product of APN NZ Media, and is also one of New Zealand’s most successful news destinations both in print and digital medium. Over the last seven years the digital products have had unprecedented success by taking the top honours at the Canon Media Awards six times, winning “Best News Website” 2007 through 2009 consecutively and again in 2012 and 2013, as well as wins for Best Website in 2011 and 2012.

With a national reach, New Zealand Herald’s web audience is highly engaged, spending an average of 3.2 minutes on the site each time they visit.

The website showcases the very best of digital story telling with image-led articles, video content and photo galleries. It is content rich and makes it easy for readers to find the latest updates and most popular content, as well as discover the breadth and depth of high quality editorial and opinion pieces.

To experience firsthand how the New Zealand Herald is creating a highly relevant experience for their readers, register at http://www.nzherald.co.nz/.