The Times and Sunday Times

The Times And The Sunday Times

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

This innovative, pro-active team works closely with editorial colleagues to showcase their best journalism and elevate content features. Their smart and sometimes ruthless approach to prioritising key audience channels really delivered results and good subscription growth.

The team started last year with substantial traffic increases driven by the Ukraine war, but in May, they were hit by Google’s algorithm update. Their visibility was impacted overnight – what had previously been the most valuable social platforms for traffic changed, with Facebook moving away from news, and Twitter sending fewer readers their was after ditching Twitter Moments. This forced the team at The Times and The Sunday Times to rethink the purpose of each platform and ruthlessly prioritise efforts.

They started with search. The team launched partnerships with their magazine supplement sections to grow reader numbers and overhauled their commissioning after looking closely at what drives guest readership. Their SEO journalists fed in search insights, shaped the content before commissioning, and wrote headlines with the audience in mind.

Social platforms were also in need of an overhaul. Over the years, the brand had accumulated lots of accounts; most pages had minimal engagement and low click-through rates, with the team wasting time populating them. This list was audited by looking at reach and traffic data to determine which accounts should remain on each platform. And by training journalists on effectively promoting their work, they halted traffic decline. The team also launched new designs on Instagram, featuring striking imagery, video, and audio to engage younger audiences. They also further developed their partnership with Apple News to reach global audiences.

As a result, they saw their fastest ever subscription growth last year. The SEO-focussed efforts culminated in record search traffic in January 2023 and search visibility returned to levels before the May algorithm update. Meanwhile, the visual overhaul on Instagram led to a surge of new followers and pushed them over the 1m mark.

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