TIME improves user engagement by 40% with help from the Google News Initiative
Case Study

TIME improves user engagement by 40% with help from the Google News Initiative

Since its founding in 1923, TIME Magazine has been an essential destination for reporting on the people, places and issues that matter. To stay competitive in the evolving digital ecosystem, TIME successfully partnered with Google to transform its business and integrate new tools into its workflow, boosting both reader engagement and advertising metrics.

Connecting with readers and driving engagement through digital tools

TIME was looking for ways to optimize its reader funnel and grow its potential digital subscriber base. News Consumer Insights (NCI), an audience optimization framework developed by the Google News Initiative (GNI), provided a path for the company to make data-driven decisions leading to greater profitability and stronger reader relationships. The partnership between TIME and Google resulted in improvements across TIME’s recirculation strategy, newsletter acquisition, and subscription funnel.

With a more nuanced understanding of its audience and tips from NCI recirculation best practices, TIME was able to make high-impact changes to its website. The TIME team added a “read next” banner on the bottom of the mobile site, doubling the number of user clicks in a two-month span. On desktop, it boosted ad viewability and user time spent on site by 40% by making the right rail column sticky when users scroll down. And the homepage got its own makeover to improve user engagement.

Then, TIME took steps to improve their newsletter acquisition and subscription funnel to grow their audience. They decreased the number of input fields in its newsletter sign-up form and launched a stand-alone sign-up page, significantly reducing friction for interested readers. The team also rewrote the subscription landing page to clarify the company mission, tapping into TIME’s emotional bond with its readers. By leveraging NCI’s e-commerce best practices — price anchoring methodology, pre-selection of the best deal, benefit highlights, and product visuals — it crafted a more attractive proposition for potential subscribers.

"We've found real value in both collaborating with the Google team on this initiative and using News Consumer Insights to better understand our readers' engagement,” says Vice President of Product, Andrew Dwulet. “The tool has been especially useful in helping TIME identify and better understand on-site engagement behaviors, benchmark these against industry averages, and tie these back to both business goals and actionable recommendations from Google.”

Working side-by-side for enhanced ad performance

In addition to optimizing its reader funnel and subscriber base, TIME has been working closely with Google to review its Google Ad Manager setup and optimize its digital ad performance. Through consultations and technical reviews, the collaboration uncovered opportunities across multiple formats and transaction types. “Our partnership with Google has helped us unlock new revenue and user engagement opportunities that we otherwise wouldn’t have found,” says Chief Technology Officer, Bharat Krish. “Google has been an invaluable partner as we transform our brand into the digital age.”

"Ad Manager helps us manage our digital business and tap into demand from a diverse set of platforms to grow our advertising revenue."

Burhan Hamid, Vice President of Data, TIME

The teams worked together to expose TIME’s inventory to as many advertising platforms and partners as possible. By using Ad Manager to connect with other sell-side partners, TIME can now optimize yield across all formats, including desktop, standard mobile web, and AMP.

Through the partnership, TIME also received a bespoke, technical analysis of its in-stream video setup, including page speed analysis and recommendations. Post-analysis, the teams identified ways to increase video fill and reduce error rate. The TIME team took advantage of web development tools to improve page speed metrics, such as the time it takes for content to appear on the screen, the first ad call, and full ad rendering.

“Google’s a strong supporter of publishers, and Ad Manager helps us manage our digital business and tap into demand from a diverse set of platforms to grow our advertising revenue,” says Vice President of Data, Burhan Hamid. Through these efforts, TIME has developed new ways to test and iterate site updates, paving the way for future improvements in user experience, ad performance, and dynamic growth in an open ecosystem.

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