We created a three tiered media approach that included data insight, video content and highly targeted/retargeted display and native rich media ads. The campaign included DOOH, mobile and desktop executions - the majority of which were driven programmatically.

Social media was used to keep the FT front of mind, even when users were doing more personal browsing.

Phase 1: the warm up

For five weeks, leading up to the ‘Paywall Freeze’ launch day, we placed a variety of digital media in key city locations around the UK and North America. These ads promoted access to free FT articles relevant to the consumer, based on their location and stage of commute. For example, a commuter on their way to work in Manhattan’s financial district might see a DOOH placement in the Wall Street subway station that reads ‘Today’s global financial landscape. Deciphered’. They may then see a second ad in the lobby of their office building, which would read ‘FT Video. Be briefed before breakfast.’.

Simultaneously, since our target audience are heavy smartphone users, we served mobile banners to those in the vicinity of the DOOH placements to reinforce our message. These programmatically-served banners delivered ads that were tailored to the user based on their demographic profile, mobile activity, location. For example, a commuter walking within London’s financial district, while searching online via their smartphone, would be served an ad containing European-focused content with specific London references.


Once our commuters reached their desks at work, we served them rich media banners, take over banners, and native ads that showcased FT content.

All ads (DOOH, mobile, desktop) ultimately drew users to visit a microsite on FT.com, which we called The Hub, where further dynamically-driven new content was accessible. (And of course, where we could accumulate data for retargeting.)

Phase 2: the deep freeze

After five weeks of warming our audience up to the FT’s incredible content - we removed the paywall for a whole day. For those 24 hours all communication from the FT (DOOH, mobile display, social, etc.) notified our audience of the special, no paywall access. Additionally, users who had already interacted with free content on The Hub we’re remarketed, notifying them of the paywall removal.

During the freeze, placement of our mobile ads were hyper-local. This meant that  anyone who saw our outdoor placements, within our ringfence, would then get served relevant mobile ads based on mobile and location data from the user. For example, as they approach their work place in Chicago’s financial district, it’s quite likely they were exposed to a variety of the FT’s DOOH ads. With this information we were able to remarket the same audience via mobile ads, which involved progressed FT messaging -  compared to those who did not clock into the same geographically outlined area.

We achieved remarketing through a sophisticated programmatic platform to help us optimize the reach to our target audience. This was key in order for us to send the next phase of messaging to the right people. We were also able to optimize these ads on the fly throughout the 24 hours of the freeze, to ensure maximum media spend and ad exposure was met.

Phase 3: driving subscriptions home

After the 24 hour paywall freeze expired, we used the same channels to remarket a subscription-led message to users who had interacted with previous FT ads and the content hub. This effort reminded them of the benefits of the FT content and included a call to action to subscribe.