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Audience Development Team of the Year

Congratulations to The Sun who are the winners of Audience Development Team of the Year


Your “Elevator Pitch”

* Just over two years after emerging from behind a hard paywall, as a largely unread, unloved site, 2018 was the year The Sun Online became the UK’s biggest digital newsbrand

* This was the culmination of years of hard work, of successful collaboration between our audience, editorial, data, technology and marketing teams, and reflected significant and necessary changes made to our audience development strategy in 2018

* It reflected too our comprehensive use of data, to drive understanding, to in turn effect process change, to deliver tangibly improved results


Set the scene

By the start of 2018, we had seen significant growth over the previous two years, but:

* The Sun Online had a long-term strategic goal of becoming the UK’s biggest digital newsbrand (per Comscore, the industry-standard measurement metric for commercial/agencies)

* We under-indexed (per PAMCo) on a number of key audience demographics

* Our undeveloped recirculation mechanisms and apps meant we underperformed for engagement per unique visitor (per Comscore)

* Our social and community numbers had flatlined in the second half of 2017


Tell us the story

In 2018:

* We placed Audience at the heart of the Sun Online newsroom. New editorial strategies supported growth of audiences around key under-indexed demographics

* A number of new data models and approaches to optimisation contributed to social traffic growth of more than 25% in 2018

* We implemented a major new dashboard to give SEO editors real-time analytics on rankings to drive recommendations to subject desks. We implemented a new diagnostics system to instantly spot overall search issues for AMP and web

* A new community team was formed, with its data-driven strategy, coupled with the implementation of a new commenting platform, increasing on- and off-platform comments by 82% and 255% respectively

* The Sun audience team worked much more closely with the News UK technology and UX departments, delivering increased page speed and reduced bounce, launching new personalisable apps, developing new swipe recirculation functionality and improved navigation, and launching a dedicated social- and search-optimised World Cup microsite


The results

In 2018:

* Sun Online became the UK’s biggest digital newsbrand (a high of 31.7m monthly UK readers, per Comscore)

* The success of our mobile-optimised site and new apps (app users up 95% in 2018), coupled with strong growth on Apple News, contributed to us becoming consistently the UK’s biggest mobile newsbrand (around 27m UK readers on mobile each month)

* We made big progress on driving new audiences where we had previously under-indexed - reaching, by the end of 2018, 73% of 25-44yo women in the UK each month, more than any other newsbrand (per PAMCo)

* We remained the UK’s number one Snapchat publisher, growing our highly-engaged ’core users’ (who read us 3+ times a week) and a strong female/millennial/Gen Z audience - 72% women, 83% aged 13-34

In Partnership with


In Partnership with

AOP - Association of Publishers