The Irish Times is a renowned newspaper in Ireland with a 163-year history of publishing trusted news and information. Having launched a digital subscription model in 2015, the organisation was aware of a need to accelerate its digital growth and maintain the subscription uplift seen during the Covid-19 pandemic. With an awareness of its international readership, the publication also wanted to extend its reach to the global Irish diaspora.
The publication assembled a cross-functional working group during the eight-month programme with FT Strategies and the Google News Initiative. The group dedicated significant time to learning how to experiment and decided to test the hypothesis that specially commissioned, targeted and promoted content for a particular area (such as London) could increase subscriptions. It proved that specific city-led content resulted in more overall visits from London and the UK, increased read-time and engagement levels, and was more effective in terms of marketing spend and promotion versus general articles. The Irish Times has established significant growth opportunities in New York and Boston, where connections to Ireland are strong.
The team also tested increasing the limit of subscription-only content after a 24-hour period, to examine the effect on digital subscriptions. This resulted in a 30 per cent uplift in sales, and has since become an embedded practice to grow The Irish Times’ overall subscriber base.
“It was closer to a mentor relationship, rather than a consultancy. They really showed that they wanted the organisation to succeed. We have a much clearer understanding of what our audience wants“Head of Audience, The Irish Times