How and why News UK launched Times Radio during lockdown

Interview with Oliver O’Neill ( Senior Performance Marketing Manager & App lead @ News UK )

Q: Hi Ollie, great to speak to you. We are going to be discussing launching a new Radio Station during lockdown. Before we do that, do you want to introduce yourself and give people a brief idea of the role you have at News UK?

A: I look after the performance marketing function at News UK, which own The Times & The Sunday Times, The Sun, and TalkSPORT and Virgin Radio

Q: Thanks for that. Obviously The Times as a newspaper is a great brand and highly respected around the world. What exactly was the rationale for launching Times Radio in June 2020? What did you hope to achieve?

A: The demographic of The Times audience is one that skews slightly older more male orientated and one the company were looking to address. In an effort to redress the balance of the core demographic and the recent acquisition of Wireless and the plethora of experience in audio they bring, the opportunity to expand The Times brand into audio and introduce a new, younger demographic to The Times just made sense.

Times Radio Screenshots - Created by Redbox Mobile

Q: Given Covid and the various restrictions, how did the team go about physically launching the station and equipping presenters etc? Pulling on internal talent from News UK’s Wireless Group (Virgin Radio & Talksport) must have helped?

A: Launching a radio station when you were allowed to leave your house was challenge enough, but in lockdown there where a number of logistical challenges with presenters having to work from home. Ensuring wifi bandwidth was a key one as I’m sure many people can relate to on a zoom call let alone trying to present a radio show.

Q: Tell us about how your launch marketing strategy was perhaps different given Covid?

A: The traditional marketing plan for the launch of a radio station or radio show would tend to focus on traditional formats. Looking to utilise OOH with high areas of footfall and TV. Without the levels of footfall and the number of people out and about meant we had to double down on our digital efforts, focusing on App store presence, awareness through VoD and display and driving consideration through social. Utilising owned channels was also an important part of the strategy to create an awareness amongst existing audiences.

Q: Audio news is on the rise and accelerated by the pandemic. What can you tell us about how Times Radio has been doing on app & smartspeaker? How do you measure success?

A: Traditional measurement of linear radio is through RAJAR figures. However, like many industries this was impacted by the pandemic in that RAJAR weren’t able to get the booklets out the people. This meant more focus on digital and smart speaker. Because of this the app became the focus and driving users into

Q: What do you think are the benefits to the overall Times brand by launching The Times Radio channel?

A: The biggest benefit is introducing a new demographic to the Times via a free medium. Exposing a younger more balanced demographic to the content, expertise and knowledge The Times has to offer will help us to not only sustain the digital growth we’re experiencing now but to expand it beyond the reaches we would have been able to do before.

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Download the App using the Links Below

To get The Times Radio App, download the iOS or Android app. Or go to the App Store (iPhone and iPad) or Google Play (Android) and search for "Times Radio".

LinkedIn Profiles

Oliver O’Neill : Senior Performance Marketing Manager & App lead @ News UK

James Salins: CEO Redbox Mobile

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