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Increasing The Telegraph's subscriptions by 209% with Dynamic Search Ads

increase in overall subscriptions


increase in conversion rate


uplift in paid LTV

The brief

The Telegraph delivers unrivalled journalism, insight and analysis across its digital and print publications, including The Telegraph website and app.

With their peak period falling in the final quarter of the year, subscription targets are often increased for media channels during this time in a push to hit their overarching annual targets. As their digital marketing partner, we need to pivot quickly and open up new avenues for driving volume when required.

With paid search being their best-performing channel, we were set the ambitious target of generating 78% more subscriptions month-on-month in December 2022.

The approach

With core brand keywords delivering maximum impressions, we needed to look at other areas of the account to capture a larger share of search queries and drive increased traffic.

To do this, we leveraged The Telegraph’s greatest asset: its wealth of online content. Increasing activity through Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) was a natural choice with their ability to crawl website content and serve an ad if the content is deemed relevant to the searcher. 

Because these ads use content, rather than keywords, we were able to match the intent of searches to relevant premium content, gaining coverage across the entirety of The Telegraph’s website. Although Google dynamically generates relevant headlines, we carried out extensive testing across description lines and extensions to identify what messaging worked best. Due to DSA cost per clicks (CPCs) being so low, the ads gained huge volumes of traffic quickly. As well as the in-platform benefits, we were  able to guide users to content of genuine interest, ensuring conversions were due to the high-quality journalism offered by The Telegraph, rather than subscription offers, thus increasing integrity and improving Lifetime Value (LTV).

To make sure that we only served ads for suitable content, robust negative lists were a vital part of the strategy, also avoiding cannibalisation across The Telegraph’s affiliate and partnership activity.

Evolving the strategy

To accompany the search push, we launched article content ads on Meta. Using The Telegraph’s Customer Data Platform to target relevant audience segments, we re-engaged registered users and targeted prospective new subscribers through Lookalikes. Across both channels, we transferred content, messaging, and creative learnings. For example, if we saw ‘travel’ articles performing well on DSA, we requested this content to promote on Meta. 

The results

Initially, after increasing budgets, cost per acquisition spiked whilst the platform familiarised itself with the campaign signals and audience in more depth. However, we held our nerve, and as expected, this stabilised and we quickly saw opportunity to scale, whilst remaining cost-efficient.

In the initial six-week period following increased investment, we achieved a 190% increase in conversion rate and a 209% increase in overall subscriptions MoM, equating to a 33% uplift in paid LTV.

In the same period, outside of our core KPI, we also saw:

  • 71% lower CPC than our average Generic search terms
  • +1 million clicks
  • +10 million impressions

Beyond metrics, we discovered Travel, World and Lifestyle to be the top three most popular news areas, helping to inform The Telegraph’s ongoing content strategy.

Adam Ingram, Head of Paid Marketing at The Telegraph

“RocketMill has done a fantastic job of adjusting our strategy beyond best practice and has actively created a bespoke strategy that adds relevance and reach to the broad range of content we have to share. The strategy ticks the box of both driving (and continually improving) incremental, commercially viable, cost efficient subscriptions, but also amplifying our great editorial content by utlising Google’s tools to ensure we appear in every relevant search related to our content verticals.” 

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