“This will be the standard way of serving news within a few years. Users get more original content which matters to them, brought to the homepage. It also lets our team spend more time concentrating on what really matters: the news.”


Christian Panson

VP Digital, Winnipeg Free Press

Recommending the right content at the right time increases audience engagement at Winnipeg Free Press

Time spent on site triples and page views per visit double at the 140-year-old newspaper

Overview

Winnipeg Free Press took the huge step to personalize not just a small section of their site, but nearly the entire homepage. Up until 2015, most of their content on the website was distributed for free. It was a largely anonymous audience, but it had grown over the years. However, most of their readers were only consuming a small amount of articles.

Challenges

Audiences are more demanding than ever, resources are tight and new competitors are constantly challenging traditional media companies. There are technologies out there capable of providing the extra push a media company needs, to capture the attention of their audiences, increase satisfaction with the brand, and drive revenue.

124 %
24 %
86 %

Users hang around longer… and consume more content

Acting on data in real-time, Winnipeg can cater to user interests to keep them on the site longer so they consume more relevant articles

Solution

Winnipeg Free Press took the decision to put up a paywall, but they wanted to add value rather than saying that what you got for free yesterday you’ll have to pay for today. So they thought they could give subscribers something of great value by implementing personalized content recommendations for paying readers.

Winnipeg Free Press creates content for each individual user according to their tastes. They select the best pieces of content over a certain time period. They look at what is trending, take into account what the individual reader has looked at previously and what lookalike readers are enjoying on the site. 

They then use all of that to determine what the next article should be. As you scroll down the page, you get further away from curated content so users are not limited to breaking news.

 

Once a user has read a curated story, it falls away and another story replaces it.

Average time spent on the site went from 282 seconds in September 2014 before they introduced personalization to 632 seconds in September 2015 after the new system was implemented.  

Page views per visit were 5.65 in September 2014. After they rolled out the personalized content, this rocketed to 10.54 page views per visit in September 2015.

On desktop, average page views went from 7 to 9.4 per visit over the time period. On mobile there was a huge jump from 0.9 pages a visit to 9.4. On tablet, the figure leapt from 5.4 pages to 19.6 pages per visit.

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