To optimise business decisions The Local Europe extracts actionable insights from their data in a unique collaboration with smartocto. They focus on:

  • Moving from single to behavioural metrics (correlating perfectly with the subscriptions business model)
  • Attracting new members (and retaining current ones)
  • Navigating editorial strategy (attracting loyal and engaged readers)
  • Insights on content performance (supporting an innovative way of doing native advertising)

From single metrics to behavioural metrics

The Local transformed from an ad-based business to a reader-revenue oriented operation in 2017. This shift coincided with a change in how they viewed analytics too: they’ve moved away from looking at single metrics such as clicks, to studying more holistic behavioural metrics such as loyalty and engagement. In the first year after this shift they gained over 7,000 new subscriptions. Paul O’Mahony, who was managing editor of The Local Europe at the time, said that this came as a massive relief for them, given the fact they are a small independent news organisation surrounded by giants in a turbulent media landscape.

But since the COVID-19 pandemic, their memberships have increased even more: by no less than 11,000! This has resulted in a greater shift towards subscriptions. In June 2020 memberships accounted for around 60% of The Local’s revenue, with advertising at 40%. Pre-corona The Local garnered 6-7 million unique readers a month on average. But during the pandemic there were several peaks, with a record-breaking 17.6 million in March.

there's a correlation between high loyalty and subscriptions

From loyalty to subscriptions

Paul O’Mahoney used smartocto to prepare himself for weekly editorial meetings with his editors, with a focus on the Story Value: a multi-layered metric that reveals reader habits.

Loyalty is one of these metric layers. Paul noticed a correlation between articles that score high on loyalty and a successful week in terms of new subscriptions. Paul: “Loyalty is the indicator that is most valuable for us, managing our membership model.”

With this business model, single metrics such as pageviews are not as important. “Our focus used to be primarily on getting high traffic. But our editorial emphasis changed, in very positive ways, with the shift to a more multifaceted revenue approach.”

What is Story Value?

The Story Value is powered by the Story Value Engine. A smart machine that has seen millions of stories and it has supported multiple journalistic and business models. It makes calculations with unique algorithms. These wicked smart little gears are able to connect the data of your story to your desired strategy.

The Story Value Engine is actually the heart of the entire smartocto system. We worked for almost two years to combine historical data and real-time insights. As a result, we can make predictions of your story's performance before it's even been published.

From gut feeling to actual proof

Emma Löfgren is the editor of The Local Sweden and she’s focused on article performance. “I’m looking for articles that performed well on loyalty because we believe that those articles are likely to get us new members and help retain old ones.“

Smartocto has helped Emma pick out content which will be placed behind their hybrid paywall, a combination of metered and freemium. Articles that score higher on loyalty and engagement tend to be good candidates to become premium content. And on Fridays she goes on a hunt for the week’s best-performing articles to republish them on social media over the weekend.

“Smartocto proved to us that the articles which we believe are valuable to readers are the ones that are actually valuable to readers.” So, it underpins the gut feeling of the editor.

From blurry to transparent native advertising

Shaena Harrison is Manager of Strategic Commercial Partnerships. She was one of the first people to start using smartocto for native advertising campaigns. She looks at our analytics from the editorial side of things and from the commercial side of things.

On the editorial side she looks at our actionable insights, such as Read Depth. She also finds the ability to benchmark different types of content very valuable.

On the commercial side, she uses smartocto when negotiating with potential advertisers. To her it’s an indispensable part of her pitch to clients. “My task is to give them an in-depth perspective of our audience and reveal how engaged they are with our content.” The more information she can get to her clients, the better the service she’s able to provide.

Being able to show clients exactly how certain content is performing is very beneficial and adds more transparency to the relationship. The user-friendly smartocto interface also helps: “I really enjoy the layout of the platform. I actually present it to the clients instead of giving them reports. And I have a slide in my pitch that says why smartocto is important. It doesn’t only give them the numbers and metrics, but it starts to explain the context too”.

From here to eternity

Now the challenge for The Local, of course, is to keep subscribers on board and find new ones, while increasing the advertising revenue. How will they do that? Ben McPartland, the current managing editor, reflects. “We believe we can have a big impact by constantly reflecting on the small changes. Even if it’s messaging, engaging with readers more, writing the articles they need or working together on stories and changing the times the journalists work. It can all help. We now have the big challenge on our hands to persuade our new and old members to stay with us. To achieve that we’ll constantly need to look at what small changes and tweaks we can make.”

About The Local

The Local Europe is a network of nine media outlets in nine different European countries. Originally conceived as a way to educate and inform Sweden’s expat community, the company now has editions across Europe, all with the same mission: to provide those living and working abroad with valuable and useful insights into everyday life in their adoptive countries.

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