SYDNEY: News Corp, the newspaper publisher, is driving digital subscriptions through analysis of data to identify the types of content that audiences are willing to open their wallets for.

Michael Miller, executive chairman of News Corp Australia, addressed this topic at the recent Mumbrella360 conference in Sydney.

“People will pay and stay for content about where they live, work, and play,” he reported. “That’s why we invest in local voices, local brands, and local content, and it’s how we connect with communities.

“Audiences are also drawn to, and will pay for, strong opinion”, he added. (For more, read WARC’s report: How News Corp Australia is driving digital subscriptions.)

This has resulted in some unlikely developments which challenge conventional wisdom: News Corp is now charging for access to the website of one free local newspaper in northern New South Wales.

“We’re getting about 10 to 15 subscriptions a week,” said Miller. “Go figure, but that’s where the balance is turning.”

News Corp’s data indicates that “what people want is information about their city, districts, and their teams, quality information that is reliable, knowledgeable and on topics that are dear to them”.

And that can be very different depending on location. In Sydney, for example, true crime, local crime, celebrity and court stories index highly in driving digital subscriptions, but in Adelaide, the popularity of the local football team is a major drawcard, followed by stories about local council planning and development.

Another area generating traffic is content for children, while individual journalists also play a role in driving subscriptions.

“We measure relentlessly, everything from what news and information is being consumed, by who, and when, and where, and importantly, what people are prepared to pay for,” Miller said.

“We gather information tirelessly. We curate it, verify it, and make hundreds of decisions and judgements every day on what to publish, and what not to publish.

“That’s why it’s called editing, and in our fast-paced time-sensitive world, all marketers could do with a bit more editing.”

Sourced from WARC