Albany Times Union drives audience growth using modeling & analytics

By Daniel Williams Published February 10, 2017

LEAP’s approach to audience growth is driven by the simple premise that high opportunity consumers can be scored, identified and targeted based on a variety of meaningful criteria including geography, demography, transactional behavior, channel preferences and contact history. Resource investments can then be specifically allocated to those segments demonstrating maximum potential for growth and profitability. We call this the Targeted Growth Model (or TGM) and it is a key driver of audience engagement and customer activation for newsmedia companies that have embraced such a data-driven approach.

At the Albany Times Union, the TGM is enabling the audience division to allocate its marketing investments toward high value households that are nearly 2x more likely to respond and which retain much higher relative to the overall market (Figure 1). As a result, the Times Union has experienced not only improvements in the costs to acquire an annual unit of circulation, but it has seen a substantial increase in its overall rate of retention among new starts.

The approach: using first and third party data to reach your best customers

The Targeted Growth Model is a predictive, descriptive and prescriptive model that scores every household in a publisher's market using 15-20 variables, then assigns a "master value score" to all households based upon the characteristics that are shared in common with the most engaged and profitable subscribers, and thus have a higher probability of responding to marketing offers (the "predictive").


Figure 1: Times Union TGM segment performance

The households are then clustered into six demographic lifestage groupings (the "descriptive"), which allows the creative, messaging and offers to be appropriately tailored to individual customers based on their attributes.

Finally, the market is stratified into quintiles (i.e. "High Value","High-Mid Value", and so forth) based on those master value scores to distinguish the highest value prospects that can be identified and targeted using a multi-channel, data-driven approach. In this way, LEAP can provide recommendations (the "prescriptive") on how to optimize the Albany Times Union's marketing spend to manufacture the highest rate of return at the lowest cost.

As explained by Wendy Reeves, LEAP's Vice President of Accounts, “The model is self-correcting, by design, meaning that the household scoring is recalibrated as we gain more information on each consumer’s response history, method of return and other factors. We can then apply this toward a probability of conversion to best determine how to direct channel budgets aimed at the right customers.”

The results: marketing investment optimization

The Times Union joined the LEAP client coalition in April, 2015 and over this period of time has enjoyed considerable improvements over a variety of meaningful metrics:

  • Stops for non-payment have declined 21% with an overall 9% reduction in total subscription stops
  • Direct mail response among non-subscribers has improved from 0.15% to 0.50% or +233%
  • Direct mail response among former subscribers has improved from 0.70% to 0.85% or +21%
  • Telemarketing response among non-subscribers has improved from 0.11% to 0.13% or +18%
  • Telemarketing response among former subscribers has improved from 0.69% to 0.97% or +41%
  • The cost to acquire one annual unit of circulation (CPU) has improved +17%

The performance improvements have wide-reaching implications for the Times Union. Todd Peterson, Vice President of Audience at the Times Union explained, “because of our ability to identify, differentiate and engage high value potential customers using targeted acquisition channels and appropriately aligned offers, we have been able to allocate marketing investments toward those optimal segments and, just as importantly, not unnecessarily spend dollars toward other segments that have a low probability of responding and/or retaining.”   The resulting savings have been redirected toward other business initiatives currently underway, including events, digital engagement and monetization strategies.

For to learn more about LEAP's Targeted Growth Model, contact us via email or dial 860.710.5942


# # #


Textbox Section