New WAN-IFRA report features strategies for news publishers to engage key audiences

2023-02-01. The new report features stories from European news publishers that embraced an audience-first mindset during their participation in the Table Stakes Europe programme. By choosing specific target audiences and starting to produce journalism that serves their needs, the companies were able to create loyal new readers and accelerate their digital transformation.

by Teemu Henriksson | February 1, 2023

Our new report, “Building and engaging specific audiences,” is a collection of 15 case studies featuring winning engagement strategies that news publishers used when creating new editorial products for specific audience categories. 

The majority of the report’s content is based on the achievements of the 23 companies that participated in the 2021/2022 round of Table Stakes Europe, a WAN-IFRA programme in partnership with Google News Initiative.

The report is now available free for download in English, French, German and Spanish.

  • Download the report in your preferred language HERE.

Their stories include guidelines to any publisher thinking of embracing an audiences-first mindset: how to identify the most promising audience categories – some of whom are defined by geography, others by interests, and some by current life situation – and what products and methods work best to serve them. 

The report is structured around five different target audiences: 

  • Strategies and channels to reach young readers
  • Local sports teams and their committed fans
  • Readers passionate about law, order and criminal investigations
  • Families and parents-to-be interested in local services and activities 
  • Niche audiences, such as cross-border commuters and a local Muslim community

All case studies from the report, and many more, are also featured in the Knowledge Base, an online resource that highlights various topics around digital transformation and audience focused workflows. The Knowledge Base is available in English, French, German and Spanish and is searchable by geography, theme, or news product type. More cases will continue to be added throughout the year.

“Throughout all the three years of Table Stakes Europe we have seen the same effect: Newsrooms and publishers are at first a bit hesitant to shift parts of their focus from a general audience to specific targeted audiences”, says Martin Froehlich, director of the Digital Revenue Network at WAN-IFRA. “And every year the case studies show that it can be done, that it brings more value referring to user loyalty and reader revenue, and that it is a perfect entry into performance-driven change management.”

Among the companies included in the report is La Voix du Nord, a newspaper based in Lille, France, which doubled down on their journalism for local football fans during their Table Stakes Europe participation. 

Jean-François Machut, Project Manager at La Voix du Nord, said: “From the start, we focused on the expectations/needs of a specific audience and set ourselves precise objectives… and we soon realised that we ourselves were capable of launching effective and efficient products quickly.”

Another participant, Birmingham Live (part of the UK-based publisher Reach plc), launched products aimed at local families and the local Muslim community. 

“Table Stakes Europe offered us an opportunity to step back and think. We are obsessed with audience and growth, but constantly in the moment,” said Christina Savvas, Customer Editor at Reach plc. “It was great to be able to incubate a project, focusing on things we need to get better at, in an environment where we could share thoughts with others.”

The Knowledge Base allows users to search different topics or the location of former TSE participants. It is available in English, French, German and Spanish and will be updated regularly with new experiences and cases from participants.


The Table Stakes Europe programme teaches change management skills to people working in news organisations. Participants in Table Stakes Europe undertake specific — and significant — change management initiatives, including diversifying their revenue streams, embracing new digital platforms and expanding the audiences they serve.

Teemu Henriksson

Research Editor

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