Manila Times is the oldest newspaper in the Philippines.
The English daily wanted its audience to rely on Manila Times for their everyday news consumption instead of the social platforms that they were tapping into. It has been 13 weeks of consistent audience engagement with iZooto and the newspaper has already converted 18% of its traffic into repeat visitors with web push notifications.
The oldest living national daily, Manila Times is the English-language newspaper that has been sharing news for the last 121 years in the Philippines. The publication was founded by an Englishman, Thomas Gowan, on October 11, 1898, to serve the Americans who were sent to Manila to fight in the Spanish-American War.
The newspaper has a readership base of 2 million which isn’t limited to just Philipines but also reaches Filipinos all around the globe, primarily from the United States. The broadsheets are published by The Manila Times Publishing Corp and have always been owned by the Ang family. Dante “Klink” Ang II, CEO and the legacy owner of Manila Times, became the publisher and chair for the newspaper in 2001. As per Klink, the key to catering to the readers is segmentation. Manila Times believes that there are different segments of the market. These segments can be created as per user profiles such that online content consumers are targeted with most relevant stories.
By delivering accurate, fair and comprehensive news, Manila times aims at allowing people to become independent citizens and be free of self-governance. The media company currently bills itself as a publication with the fourth-largest circulation in the Philippines.
“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bushes” - Klink felt every bit of the saying about three months ago. In March 2019, even though a majority of the revenue was coming from the print, Klink wanted to build a reliable monetization source for the brand’s digital efforts. Being a huge NY Times fan, subscriptions and paywalls looked like the apt bullseye. But how to convince the daily readership (consuming content at zero expense) to give their payment info and subscribe? - was the million-dollar question that Klink wanted an answer to.
He knew that most of the major publications have set up a paywall on their content. He accepted that giving away the content on digital platforms for free and fetching slivers of ad revenue in return would never do justice to the efforts, an editor puts while bringing true stories to the table.
Although, Klink was not sure if Manila Times would be able to get there. He was enough enthusiastic to execute the plan irrespective of what his fears were alarming.
The next step was fairly simple yet equally difficult. The newspaper had to reach out to the social media followers and convert them into subscribers. Manila Times was able to attract an impressive following of 400K+ on Facebook. But Klink realized that bringing these followers back to the website would be a battle they’ll never win. After spending numerous years in engaging users on Facebook, efforts of the media house had mostly gone futile as the traffic from Facebook had declined to 13.77% (present) from 44.49% (3 years ago). The traffic increased during the elections and other grand events but used to get settled a few days later.
Manila Times could not rely on Facebook for traffic or engagement anymore. Let alone, investing in building more followers and asking them to consume content on its website instead. It was bad. But, there was nothing Manila Times could really do about it.
The only way to circumvent the challenge and keep the subscription plan running was to own the audience and invest in building a direct relationship with them. It was to find a channel that could bring the control back to Manila Times. And, nothing served the purpose better than web push notifications.
On 26th April, Manila Times decided to go live with iZooto and started building its audience from scratch. The publication maintained consistency in their engagement practices and remained cognizant of the line drawn between engaging and spamming a user with notifications. Restricting itself to pushing top stories only worked wonders. The media company made sure all the notifications had visuals to drive a higher CTR.
The audience started to grow. The audience remembered the value that the brand delivered and kept visiting the website. Manila Times also realized that the users love their privacy and respect the quality content that publishers deliver. As long as the brands keep their end of the bargain, the audience will remain invested.
It has just been 3 months in the field and Manila times has grown its audience to more than 125K with web push notifications. The overall website traffic has increased by 18% with a 22.97% growth in the last two weeks.
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