Throughout the pandemic, The Wall Street Journal has doubled down on its mission to be the definitive source of trusted news for decision-makers, and its focus on serving these communities with news they can use has resulted in continued traffic and membership growth. With a record-breaking year, WSJ now boasts over 3.5m members, 2.8 of those digital, growing 15% YOY. Still, we know that there is currently an addressable market of 90m decision-makers in the US alone with an interest in news.
To better understand the decisions this prospective TAM audience faced, WSJ conducted a research study to understand how the pandemic affected decision-making. It revealed that 60% of prospective members have postponed making decisions until after the pandemic is over and that financial and health-related decisions are being made less often, and trigger more uncertainty.* As the pandemic continues, many are questioning how and when to act on life’s most significant decisions.
Given The Wall Street Journal’s reputation as America’s most trusted newspaper, this customer insight pointed to an opportunity to reinforce our position as the source of truth for decision-makers and bring prospects key insights they need to make informed decisions during the pandemic. This became the launchpad for WSJ’s new brand platform, Trust Your Decisions, unveiled in April 2021.
The goal was to establish a single brand platform and design system that unites all WSJ communications to fuel a community-led approach to marketing. To do this, we crafted a uniquely ownable and enduring platform. Trust Your Decisions was pulled from three core components of WSJ:
Trust – Only The Wall Street Journal is America’s most trusted newspaper and holds its responsibility to foster this trust as sacred.
Your – The Wall Street Journal believes in free markets, free people, and in the agency of individuals to take ownership of their choices and their future.
Decisions – Only The Wall Street Journal provides trusted information for people who make decisions, and we all make decisions, great and small, all the time.
The campaign media strategy led with decision-making by regularly updating content marketing ads based on the most recent articles to help readers make a key decision. Articles featured included “How Long Do Covid-19 Vaccines Provide Immunity?,” “What Happens to Stocks and Cryptocurrencies When the Fed Stops Raining Money?” and more to showcase the breadth and relevance of the Journal.
This first phase of the campaign was focused on driving reach and awareness to fill the top of the funnel. To kick off this phase, WSJ launched high-impact OOH placements across New York City in locations like Times Square, Moynihan Hall, Penn Station and JFK. We captured the rising travel numbers and created ads that featured content asking questions like “Is now the right time to buy a home?” and “How could inflation impact you?” A QR code was featured on each ad and linked directly to the correlating article, which was free to read.
This content marketing approach also ran digitally across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter. This took a completely revamped approach to content marketing, where we were able to design custom marketing ads for each piece of content, spotlighting the questions or decisions that the article could help inform as opposed to just boosting the post or reusing the article headline.
As part of reaching new audiences off platform, WSJ created a bespoke film that visually illustrated the decisions impacting many people at that moment in time. This film ran across YouTube and connected TV targeting morning and evening business news segments.
The final piece of this phase was an activation in Bryant Park in New York City, which used lifesize thought bubbles to highlight key questions facing decision-makers. The activation recognized those headed back to work in-person or connecting with colleagues for the first time since the start of the pandemic by offering free coffee in the park.
The second phase of the campaign aimed to drive traffic, starting by retargeting audiences who engaged with the reach tactics with Open House messaging through a Twitter “Like to Remind” campaign, Reddit Category Takeover on Business and Finance subreddits and Facebook in-feed assets, alongside newsroom support with a dedicated pinned Tweet and Facebook post to raise awareness.
Branded content continued to run to reach those who engaged with the campaign, but optimized traffic across Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, and Google Display. We also incorporated newsletter promotion with MorningBrew and audio ads across the iHeart network. Acquisition campaigns then brought those new audiences to the paywall for conversion.
The Trust Your Decisions campaign has proven successful in shifting brand perception and warming up new audiences.
Overall: With the launch of Trust Your Decisions, both awareness and WSJ’s trust score increased. Ad awareness reached its highest point in the year within the first month of launch. Total campaign impressions across connected TV, pre-roll and social media exceeded 500M.
Phase 1: OOH campaigns drove 124M impressions across a 4-week period. This included traditional OOH placements such as digital billboards in Times Square with our brand message, and digital boards across a variety of NYC subways, train hubs (Grand Central and a takeover of Moynihan Hall in Penn Station) and airports displaying both our brand message and exemplary content. The Bryant Park installation distributed 5,000 cups of coffee alongside our decision making balloons.
The Trust Your Decisions anthem film drove over 175M completed views with a completion rate of 80%, 20 percentage points above the 60% average. Across YouTube, promoted videos CTR was 250% above benchmark.
Content marketing reach campaigns drove 240m impressions, over 11 million video views and 1m+ clicks back to on-site decision-making articles.
Phase 2: Traffic campaigns across platforms saw a 13% higher CTR than average. Across direct response marketing, we improved CTR by an average of 37% with Reddit driving the highest increase (72% increase) followed by Facebook with a 64% increase, yielding a significant impact given this platform’s influence on orders.