GWADS Best of Best

2022 Award Submissions
Reader Engagement

Chicago Sun-Times

City: Chicago, IL
Daily audited circulation size: 92,163
Sunday audited circulation size: 97,506


Consumer Engagement with Contesting

Drive consumer engagement and consumer newsletter leads via contesting.


Build a contest partnership program to drive new audiences and engage our current readers with contest and giveaways.

Developed contest throughout the year. All were 2-3 weeks in duration. Marketing channels; ROP, website, email, online house ads, social posts (Facebook, Twitter & Instagram, social stories, etc.


Various contest and ticket giveaways – Beat the Critic – a night at the movies with Richard Roeper, Sun-Times movie critic/columnist, Ride Share – 2 tickets to the Writers Theatre production, Lollapalooza music fest- 2 tickets to live performances, First Pitch with the Joliet Slammers minor league baseball team – various prizes; 2 pair of game and throw the ceremonial first pitch w/4 seats to the VIP box, Chicago Bears ticket giveaway, Chicago Fire Soccer ticket giveaway, Florencia en el Amazonas – 2 tickets to the Lyric Opera, Chicago House Athletic Soccer Club Fan Appreciation Night, Winter Wonders Wisconsin- Hotel and tickets to the venue, Auditorium Theatre-tickets to "Too Hot to Handel" a Jazz-Gospel Messiah, and Chicago Bears Merchandise Giveaway.

Total email entries – 1,250 added to the Entertainment newsletter and 6,524 to the Sports newsletter. Total of 7,774


City: McLean
Daily audited circulation size: 1.75 million total digital only subscribers
Sunday audited circulation size: 1.75 million total digital only subscribers


Proactive mitigation of non-pay stops of digital subscribers by incentivizing updating credit card prior to card expiration.

We were looking to improve lift in credit card updates from our once a month email communication regarding an upcoming credit card expiration.

This is a corporate strategy for all our markets.


Changed our approach of communication to digital subscribers who had a credit card expiring in the next month.

Sent a weekly email series to full rate digital subscribers notifying them of the upcoming credit card expiration and a CTA to update their card and receive a $10 Amazon gift card. The last week of the email series (week 4 in a month) is a last chance message on getting the gift card.

Subscribers have to keep an active account for 90 days after updating their card in order to receive the gift card. We do a different weekly email series to digital subscribers on a promo rate without the gift card incentive.


We first tested this strategy in July 2021, we noticed a 17% card update on those subscribers who received the incentive expiring messaging. vs a 3% card update on those who only received the monthly email. Giving us a 14% lift.

The Mercury News

City: Dublin
Daily audited circulation size: 189,472
Sunday audited circulation size: 300,868


Execute a daily scavenger hunt promotion for print subscribers to engage with the e-Edition. The goal was to encourage print readers to engage and gain familiarity with the e-Edition. We also set a KPI of gaining 200 new registrations of print readers to the e-Edition.


Run a Print promotional ad (2×6 for A4 placement) in each of our daily newspapers that outlines the participation rules of the scavenger hunt contest. The ad ran everyday for approximately 6 weeks between Oct. 11, 2021 – Nov 15, 2021. Readers were asked to find our character "Priscilla Pumpkin", a 2”x2” graphic, in their e-Edition, then visit the contest entry page to enter their name, email, date and the page they found the character. Internally, our pre-press teams would add the character to the pdf pages of the paper prior to loading each night into the e-Edition software.


Running the contest across our 3 daily publications, The Mercury News, East Bay Times and Marin Independent Journal, we garnered 11,910 total entries, 1,367 unique entries and 763 print subs who registered for online/e-Edition access.


Your membership goes to support this nonprofit organization committed to continuing education and sharing of ideas. Members get preferred rates at events, the opportunity to network, learn revenue-generating strategies, and stay in the forefront of ongoing digital engagement. The Board of Directors look forward to your participation and support in advancing our audience development program.

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