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Digital Publishing Company Of The Year Consumer

Congratulations to Telegraph Media Group who are the winners of Digital Publishing Company Of The Year Consumer


Elevator Pitch

In 2018, Nick Hugh, The Telegraph’s CEO, announced plans for an ambitious new company strategy that would impact all parts of the business. To serve, 10 million registered users and 1 million subscribers by 2023. This bold new plan would be backed up by innovative commercial products for advertising and commerce driven by the data gleaned from our registrations and subscriptions programme. 2018 was a journey to unlock that strategy and rethink old habits on how a newspaper business is run in a digital world.


Set the Scene

Traditional media businesses are facing huge headwinds with revenue falling away whilst the large digital platforms take upwards of 70% of advertising revenue from the UK market. Programmatic advertising continues to be the dominant way for buyers to purchase media with direct bookings at higher yields declining. Digitally, advertising has been the primary revenue driver for the Telegraph but this was proving to be unsustainable for the long term. After announcing the new strategy we had to tackle a couple of large internal challenges.


  1. A cultural shift was needed across all teams, both commercial and editoriral, in order to deliver the subscription first strategy. We needed to change the metrics that measured our success and this required a huge education effort on what should be important going forward.
  2. We were betting on a data play that required a better understanding of who our readers are that generated insight into ad targeting. The commercial team required a large logged in audience to make commercially viable ad products. We needed to reengineer the user experience to make being logged in frictionless.


Your strategic plan

In order to deliver on the strategy we needed to change behaviours across the whole business and get everyone focused on the right metrics. This began with an all hands for the whole company at the beginning of 2018 where Nick Hugh and the Exec board members talked through the strategy.


Cross-department workstreams and steering groups were created that tackled different aspects of the strategy:

  1. driving registrations and subscriptions
  2. increasing consumer engagement
  3. improve the use of data for the commercial business


The first area we tackled was registrations as this was the start of the funnel into subscriptions. We identified all the teams that were already offering products that required registration such as Fantasy Football, newsletters and competitions and aligned the registration technology and process. We started experimenting with driving registrations on different types of articles and content and new dashboards were displayed in the middle of the editorial floor with our new KPI’s for all to see. Premium articles were created to differentiate paid for content from general content. Politics eventually went 100% behind a registrations and subscriptions paywall after successful testing. We invested in our datalake using Google Cloud and Syntasa to extract the right insight for data science modelling. We built and operationalised churn propensity modelling and engagement scoring to help focus activity on high risk behaviors and to encourage good behavior across the whole customer base. On the commercial side we invested in our Travel vertical to capitalise on the 10,000 hotel reviews and optimise the booking life cycle. A new Commercial Innovation team was set up to explore new opportunities and to accelerate the move to a data driven commercial model.



  • This was year 1 of an ambitious and multi year transformation plan. As expected our audience declined as we restricted access to content that we deemed valuable and worth paying for. It was against this backdrop that we saw some impressive results that talked directly to the new strategy:


    • Our target of 3m registrations was smashed as we hit over 4m by the end of the year
    • We rose the proportion of people in a logged in state
    • Digital subscription revenue grew significantly
    • Our Travel Commerce segment grew significantly


    Another key achievement that spoke to the company culture was the amazing speed that the editorial floor embraced the new metrics around registrations and subscriptions. As a content business, the strategy resonated very clearly. If we write great content people will pay for it. We are now on an exciting new path that puts the reader front and centre.



The Digital Publishing Company of the year Consumer is sponsored by PubMatic.

In Partnership with


In Partnership with

AOP - Association of Publishers