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How local news can help publishers drive revenue

Local publishers can provide people with more relevant information, but can also help drive revenue. Learn how Corriere della Sera achieved both.

The challenge

The pandemic revealed the importance for quality local reporting, as communities turned to trusted sources amid a rise of online misinformation. It also shone a light on the revenue potential of local newspapers as people looked for coverage of global events closer to home.

With the support of Google News Initiative, Italian national newspaper Corriere della Sera — part of RCS Mediagroup — looked to drive more revenue by training journalists, unifying the brand experience, and improving the user experience of its nine local editions.

The publisher turned its focus onto local news to tap into the critical role it plays in reporting facts and empowering citizens. To do that, it needed to reshape local editorial plans to incorporate digital. “Many local newspapers haven’t developed the digital skills needed to meet the challenges of an increasingly digital ecosystem,” explains Fabio Napoli, Head of Business at Corriere della Sera. “They need support in the development of their digital offering.”

Corriere della Sera started at the source — the newsroom — building out a comprehensive training plan to equip local journalists with skills like data analysis, trending topics, and social strategy.

The teams introduced news selection streams that give local editorial staff autonomy in analyzing trending topics and choosing which news to follow. The national team also suggested new formats to help get the information out to a wider audience than just print.

With social platforms becoming a key source for news consumption, Corriere della Sera built out its local social media presence and boosted stories to reach more readers. Training was also provided to local staff in two phases. First, regular classes offered initial training including best practices, posting, and data analysis. Then, national teams scheduled sessions with individual journalists to reinforce skills and competencies one-on-one.

Corriere della Sera needed to make its local websites more consistent with the national news to provide a better user experience. Before undergoing this initiative, local content was a standalone, and users were restricted to browsing only one edition at a time. Thanks to an extensive front-end redesign of the website — including site navigation and suggested content areas — local editions are now integrated into the national website, with many common features across both local and national news, allowing users to seamlessly jump between them.

Local newspapers play a unique role in their ability to report facts and empower citizens.
Daniela Buoli
Head of Digital Product at Corriere della Sera
11% YoY growth in pageviews in 2021
40% more pageviews in 2021 vs. 2019

The results

As a result of the teams’ efforts, the share of daily users consuming local content has grown steadily from 9% to 16%.

A more unified, seamless user experience when browsing on the national and local sites also led to stable growth in terms of page views — with 2021 results exceeding the exceptional results from 2020, a year where people increasingly turned to news due to the pandemic. In 2021, the publisher saw an 11% increase compared to 2020, and a 40% increase compared to 2019.

Thanks to their program, newsrooms realized that the best digital strategy is not to cover all print topics, but to define a limited set of stories to focus editorial efforts on — those which are getting the most engagement — allowing them to further hone their approach and get better results.

For Corriere della Sera, bringing the focus back to local news not only helped build up local communities, but it allowed local news to become a profitable, essential service — and a key component of its overall editorial strategy.

Google's commitment to innovation and progress is evident in their various initiatives, such as the GNI program, which strive to make a positive impact on the world and push the boundaries of what is possible. The results obtained by RCS through our participation in this program have been highly satisfying, not only in terms of business growth but also in boosting innovation and driving digital transformation within the company.
Fabio Napoli
Head of Business at Corriere della Sera
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