Determining the “health” of its subscribers has proved a healthy move for News Corp Australia.
The company’s Project Heartbeat AI is a process that fuses the art of engagement messaging with the science of machine learning and data.
“As News Corp Australia’s subscriber base exceeds one million, addressing this base as one singular population with a single message or programme has become antiquated,” says consumer growth general manager Richard Wiles in an INMA ideas blog.
“Traditional one-size-fits-all messaging no longer proves sufficient.”
Project Heartbeat was conceived to provide personalised “subscriber healthcare” treatment – a highly targeted, creative engagement programme designed to address the specific concerns of high-risk subscribers in hopes of preventing churn.
Its concept begins with a diagnosis made through an AI-generated risk profile. Audience members are mapped, based on their likelihood to churn, and placed across a “cradle-to-grave” lifecycle breakdown. This encompasses infancy, general practice, specialised treatment, acute care, and emergency response.
“Building beyond traditional churn prediction models, the AI engine behind Heartbeat not only focuses on subscribers’ risk profiling but delves deeper into the why,” says Wiles. “It can identify the chief cause of dissatisfaction or elevated risk levels. This allows for not only specifically timed intervention but specifically targeted messaging and actions to address each user’s individual ‘why’.
“Once a subscriber is diagnosed and a programme is prescribed, Project Heartbeat’s AI and orchestration technologies can leverage not only the physical and visible cues of consumers but also calculated and predictive data points.”
Personally timed and specifically tailored retention programmes are deployed across channels. Notifications, on-network interception, social advertising, and call centre channels are all deployed with the coordinated goal of reducing cancellation rates.
“By leveraging predictive AI and delivering these specifically tailored messages to the right audiences at the right time, the objective of Project Heartbeat is not to provide an extended ‘saves’ programme, but to target the moment before a user resolves to cancel. As they begin leaning away from the product, bringing them back in before a firm decision has been made significantly reduces cancellation rates.”
Wiles says since its launch in mid-2022, Project Heartbeat has demonstrated promising results in identifying subscribers’ propensity to churn and implementing targeted solutions. In a pre-production trial, 80,000 high-risk users were identified as having a limited breadth of readership. Over three weeks, 50 per cent of these users received the targeted remedial programme, while the remaining half received no intervention.
“The trial’s conclusion revealed a 32 per cent reduction in churn among the users who received targeted content promotion.
“This initial success prompted the implementation of additional trials, addressing issues such as price sensitivity and declining breadth of engagement. These experiments are now being integrated into News Corp Australia’s permanent business operations.”
Extending on current engagement efforts, Project Heartbeat will develop the blueprint for subscriber lifecycle management and deliver coordinated actions to leverage growing stores and sophistication of consumer intelligence.
More programme experimentation is underway, refining and expanding its personalised approach to subscriber retention: “By leveraging sophisticated AI technology and a data-driven focus, Project Heartbeat sets a new playbook for addressing subscriber churn in the digital media industry,” he says.