Audience Dev Team the Sun

The Sun

Team Excellence Awards
Audience Development Team of the Year sponsored by UKOM

Following the maxim that not all pageviews are equal, 2021 was the year that Sun Online drove up the quality and value of their audience. In pursuit of a higher quality, higher yield audience, they turbo-charged their high-yield, brand-safe, specialist-led US audience to future-proof their operations.

The team launched and/or restructured a number of high-yield, brand-safe content hubs - accelerating growth of their women’s lifestyle Fabulous section, splitting high-yield TV from low-yield Showbiz, separating the Tech and Science coverage, investing in specialist audiences (Consumer, Tech, Travel, Health, Motors) - and prioritising those content areas for audience growth. They also developed their cross-platform, cross-referrer US audience strategy to drive a high-value audience at scale, and bult out new Money, Lifestyle, Tech, and Sport sections on their US site to take advantage of yield opportunities. They differentiated their content offering, ditching aggregation in favour of exclusives, evergreen, and diversified live-blogs.

Sun Online also fully transitioned off Facebook Instant Articles, driving their entire social audience to web-only, benefiting from yield growth and higher recirculation. They developed their Google Discover and Facebook Suggested For You strategies to align with the platforms’ stricter, brand-safe requirement. And with their experimentation team, they used sustained multivariate analysis to optimise page recirculation and encourage user journeys towards higher-value Next Best Actions and decluttered articles and deprecated low-value image traffic.

The team implemented a series of tactical ad changes to drive cross-platform revenue growth without compromising the user experience, including better aligning ad density with recirculation propensity. They also introduced a major new strategy to drive high-value, loyal direct traffic, launching the first standalone Sun Online marketing campaign and introducing a suite of technical homepage and page performance improvements.

By January 2022, they had grown a significantly more valuable, sustainable audience. High-yield on-platform traffic was at a record high, with Sun digital revenues up significantly. In announcing record profits, News Corp CEO Robert Thomson revealed in February that on The Sun ‘digital advertising surpassed prints for the first time, driven by improved number of page views and higher yields.”

The US audience had surged – up 265% YOY – with growth driven in high-yield content areas. Press Gazette reported in January that The Sun’s US site was ‘one of the fastest-growing news sites in the US.’ In the UK, their brand-safe content hubs were showing huge growth (Fabulous traffic up 100% YOY with record yields, TV up 300%, Money up 200%). Their high-value, loyal, Direct audience was at a record high, as was Social and Search.

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