The Telegraph: Monetizing Mobile Through Measurement

The Telegraph Client Success Story

“L'app Webtrends che abbiamo sviluppato è stata fondamentale per conseguire l'obiettivo di far crescere l'interesse per i nostri contenuti editoriali e video originali. Inoltre, poiché le app Webtrends sono estremamente coinvolgenti e totalmente brandizzate, ci hanno permesso di estendere la portata dei nostri contenuti nel mondo digitale dei nostri sostenitori.”

Mark Challinor | Direttore Mobile & Interactive Services di UK Telegraph Media Group


Mobile measurement is critical to inform the overall mobile strategy at UK-based news publisher Telegraph Media Group. Understanding subscribers’ reading behaviors has enabled the publisher to successfully deploy and enhance its Telegraph for iPad app and to identify new opportunities to monetize through mobile advertising. Telegraph uses Webtrends to measure what matters on its iPad news app to inform important decisions around the type of content, the times of day when content is consumed, the depth of engagement and overall subscriber loyalty and retention. The company’s approach was smart and methodical, starting with the launch of a free app and measuring initial activity. It has moved on to a new version of the iPad app, paid-for content and are now exploring what this mobile channel may mean for advertisers.

Proof Points

In an effort to align with rapidly changing reader expectations in the new digital world, newspapers are reinventing themselves for mobile users. Publishers can reach iPad and other tablet computer users throughout the day, but first they have to know what readers want, and how that is different than what they want in print and online. With that knowledge, newspapers are inventing fresh ways to interact with news and new revenue streams.

UK-based news publisher Telegraph Media Group is  using Webtrends to figure it all out. Instead of trial-and-error, the publisher guides its app development and mobile offering with iPad usage metrics. It started by launching a free app and measuring initial activity. Now it’s building engagement with iPad app subscriptions, learning what users want most, and what that means for advertisers. The plan from here is to continue to improve the consumer experience and show the power of advertising to brands. Monetizing through advertising will provide Telegraph Media Group with new and important revenue streams for the future.

Business Challenges and Drivers

The Telegraph’s business challenges include commercializing mobile publications and reaching younger users. The publisher wants to offer better ways of interacting with the news, and to monetize the mobile channel through advertising. Agencies and advertisers are demanding a mobile audience, and readers have come to expect mobile news access.

Step One: Trial
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  • Proof of Concept
  • Understand reader behaviors

The Telegraph offered its first iPad version late in 2010 as a six-month free trial. Measuring reader behavior during this period revealed several key findings:

  • Time-starved readers wanted curated news: just the important stories tailored to the iPad
  • iPad usage did not displace media consumption, but complemented it; 25% of iPad users said their usage was in addition to other media.
  • The app drove loyalty and retention. The number of returning readers grew continuously after the app’s launch to more than 111,000 by January 11th.
  • The Telegraph was able to improve readers’ experience by observing how they navigated on the iPad
  • There were more Telegraph for iPad users over age 55 than under 35. This finding let the Telegraph focus on smartphones and the web for campaigns or content aimed at younger readers, since iPad app users tended to be older.

Readers also responded directly to the publisher, telling it they liked the conspicuous editorship (the article curation) and clean design in the iPad app. Those elements conveyed a sense of expertise used to save time and to present only the content readers valued most.

Examining the time of day when users accessed The Telegraph with their iPads revealed a second spike in the evening. With that in mind, the publisher introduced a night-reading mode, turning the iPad into a
lean-back device users read in bed. “We would not have invented that without using the analytics,” noted Mark Challinor, Director of Mobile & Interactive Services, UK Telegraph Media Group.

Step Two: Engagement

  • Build mass and volume
  • Develop greater engagement

The Telegraph launched the second edition of its iPad app in April 2011. Readers subscribe to this current version, which is a curated version of the newspaper, providing more in-depth coverage and uses ads strategically.

The publisher is using Webtrends to measure several key metrics, including page views, number of visits, time of day of visits, day of week, app version, most-read stories and more.
The focus is a bit different for this stage. The publisher is working to build readership mass and volume. The idea is to hold off on too much targeting–both in content and ads–until readership is large enough to justify
such segmentation. The Telegraph is also experimenting with which types of content work best for the iPad.

Beyond curating specific stories, the publisher recognizes the iPad is better at in-depth coverage for some stories (with audio and video, for instance) compared with print. “This year is going to be about layering in extra content, said Mr. Challinor. “For instance, we don’t have various weekend supplement content in there at the moment, so that might be something we will do.” The Telegraph also wants to develop its offerings for advertisers, both for individual ad buys and as part of their overall media strategies.

Telegraph for iPad ads are currently all full-page interstitials. It plans to examine different ad formats and ways of selling them, on the app downloads themselves or, better yet, page impressions. This will avoid the
potential problem of 10 people downloading an app but only one using it. The publisher plans to experiment with different CPM and sponsorship models.

Measuring all of these efforts will help advertisers know what they are buying when they make placements in the iPad app: they will see what the publisher has done in campaigns through analytics, case studies and data. The idea is to position the business around the needs of readers and advertisers. As Mr. Challinor put it, “Webtrends Analytics is helping us build a bigger picture to move to the next phase.”

Step Three: Advertising

  • Help advertisers understand what works best on mobile tablets.
  • Show brands the power of tablet advertising

What’s in store for the rest of 2012 and beyond? The Telegraph sees itself as moving from mainly a print business with a digital attachment to being mainly digital plus print. The publisher wants to help advertisers learn what types of ads work best with its iPad readers. It also wants to show brands how powerful tablet ads can be.

The Telegraph has learned a lot about how iPad app subscribers interact with the publication. Its data will let advertisers create more effective ads and help brands make solid connections with readers. The Telegraph has uncovered several valuable findings already:

  • iPad readers interacted with ads six times longer compared with desktop viewers
  • Engagement and usage were high. Average time spent in the app was over 10 minutes
  • One-half of users shared content with family members. It is important for the Telegraph to recognize this fair use, and for advertisers to see it as increased circulation.
  • Peak reading times were earlier and later in the day for iPad readers compared with desktop viewers, and higher on weekends. This is especially important for some advertisers: coffee makers will want morning readers, while dessert makers will look for evening users.

The Telegraph will begin selling mobile ads aimed at its iPad users. The publisher will continue developing the app and ads for it based on subscriber behaviors provided by Webtrends data. Its
experimental approach will let it adapt as needed, keeping in mind that what may work with one demographic group might not work with another.

The publisher will try out new sections and new types of ad shapes for the app over time to see what works best. Mr. Challinor said the industry would eventually have to create standards for iPad ads like it has for web and smartphones. He said measurement standards would be key to that process. “The industry needs to come together to say ‘These are the important measurements,’” he said. “That is where Webtrends comes in. I think they have a role to play.”
Mr. Challinor added that metrics will be increasingly important as it releases additional apps. “We have got some new news apps coming out and basic capture is going to be very important to what we do with them,” he said. “It’s very important that we go to market with a clear and transparent analytic package to aid client decision-making.”

Key Lessons Learned

The Telegraph’s considered approach to its iPad app has let it experiment and improve over time. It introduces new features regularly, and is flexible enough to try new things even if they might fail. What hasn’t changed is its reliance on data to tell it what it’s doing right or wrong. The constant stream of clear metrics has already taught it key lessons:

  1. Measurement is critical to the success of any mobile strategy
  2. Understanding mobile behavior goes beyond simple clicks and app downloads. Business objectives should drive and be aligned with mobile measurement
  3. Publishers shouldn’t try to do everything all at once. A crawl-walk-run approach lets them show results early, get critical exec buy-in and then progressively build on success in later phases
  4. Educate advertisers on how customers are consuming content and why that is important to them.
  5. Leverage understanding of customers’ mobile behavior to give them a more relevant experience that increases engagement and loyalty.

The Telegraph for iPad is a touchstone for the publishing industry overall, and for news publishing in particular. US-based publishers like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and News Corp’s The Daily are also looking to see what works best, and how to give readers and advertisers what they want and need.

These publishers aren’t dabbling in tablets as a techie side-venture. They are working to ensure their industry prospers in a quickly-changing digital market. The Telegraph has published the news for more than 150 years. It is working toward mobile success so that it will be around for 150 more.