Wan-Ifra’s Digital Media Awards is an annual celebration of European news publishers whose initiatives boast a high standard of innovation and knowledge of the needs of their audiences. The awards are now in their 16th year
Each of these projects is said to be exceptional in its creativity and execution and shows an impressive dedication to delivering the very best for their audiences, from remarkable cases of engagement strategies to inventive and comprehensive displays of complex data.
The nine winners of the nine categories are now automatically entered into the next level to compete head-to-head with the winners from our other regional awards for the title of Digital Media World Award Winner 2023.
The winners are:
Best data visualization
Project name: VG’s Energy Crisis Monitor
Company: Verdens Gang (VG)
The topic of increasing electricity prices in Norway was one of the most important stories for readers in 2022. As a news provider in Norway with a long history of making data-driven services, Verdens Gang (VG) took the role of making the most extensive site covering the energy market in Norway. Their service launched in January 2022, along with several in-depth feature stories.
The site features daily prices – hour by hour – for every municipality in Norway. Their electricity tracker had more than 11 million page views in 2022. More than 10% of the views came from Google – making it their most successful SEO article of the year. This is an ongoing project continuously evolving with new statistics.
Best in audience engagement
Project name: How a birthday party in Minecraft massively impacted engagement, brand awareness and sales.
Company: Schibsted Norge AS
Aftenposten Junior is the only newspaper for children in Norway, with solid coverage within the target group since its first publication in 2012. But increasing competition from digital media has made engaging readers and maintaining a high readership more difficult.
In 2022, Aftenposten was determined to celebrate Aftenposten Junior’s 10th anniversary in a way that would boost brand awareness, engagement and sales. They chose to create their own universe in Minecraft, a popular online game, and invite children to a birthday party unlike any other. The event was brand coherent, highly relevant to their target group and on the children’s turf and terms.
Not only did Aftenposten increase engagement with their young readers, but they also managed to get attention and recognition from their parents. It resulted in boosted brand awareness, reader engagement and subscription sales. Aftenposten engaged 1,708 unique users, sold a total of 1,623 subscriptions, and reached an all-time high number of sales from social media. This was a 57% increase in sales compared to an equal campaign during the same period in 2021.
Best news website
Project name: A sports news site for the TikTok Generation
Launching a sports news brand for Gen Z and millennials disconnected from traditional media requires understanding the rules and formats they have learned through years of social media use.
In 2022, the Spanish group Vocento launched Relevo, a website for young sports fans, with a commitment to users and constant innovation as its central values. Staying true to these goals, and after researching users’ unmet needs, the team, deliberating collaboratively in a series of sprints, took two bold steps: Making the home page look and feel like a TikTok feed and offering a straightforward and clean article design, free from distractions such as intrusive ads or annoying content offerings.
The goal was to serve Spanish-speaking sports fans with a differential editorial product in a crowded but undistinguishable market.
As a result, Relevo successfully established itself as one of the most original and innovative sports news brands in the Spanish market. User engagement included 77% of users swiping down to watch more headlines versus the 50% average user drop-off rate on standard news.
Best use of video
Project name: Paint your heroes: Original multimedia content to support the rise of women’s football
Women’s football (or ‘futfem’, as it is called in Spanish) is on the rise, but there is still a long fight ahead for true recognition and respect. For Relevo, the sports news brand launched by Vocento in 2022, women’s football is critical in its strategy, aimed at Gen Z and millennials tired of traditional sports coverage.
Relevo’s goal is to promote inclusiveness and equity in sports coverage in Spain. By distributing original multimedia content based on the Spanish national squad through social networks, Relevo raised awareness about the upcoming futfem revolution and established itself as an innovative sports brand.
Three out of the four components of their content strategy were video-based, combining live and on-demand content for maximum impact: An emotional video message from the former squad’s captain (Instagram / Twitter / TikTok); a series of custom-made urban art portraits of every player in the squad (Instagram / Twitter / TikTok); a daily live video from the tournament (exclusive for Twitch), as well as a weekly live video analysis (exclusive for TikTok).
The campaign was successful in terms of views and increased engagement in TikTok, Twitter and Instagram. It also firmly established Relevo as the incumbent medium for women’s football coverage among top sports news brands in Spain.
Best digital subscription initiative
Project name: Omni Mer
“Maverick Insider is a fantastic solution to a particular problem in Africa: how to get people to pay for news in a less developed economy,” said one of our judges. “The latest iteration of the project, which comprises this year’s entry, highlights the ongoing iterative effort which is at the heart of all digital success stories. Bringing in eCommerce offers and new partnerships was a smart way of showing the value of membership in tough economic times. Creating an expert database manages both to make readers feel like they are gaining something from membership but also helps to improve the title’s journalism. The numbers show that this initiative is clearly working.”
“The longevity of this program is testament to its success,” added another judge. “The lesson learnt was honest, and pertinent.“
Noted a third, “One of the most impressive things about Maverick Insider is the way the team is using data to better understand their audiences – and also incorporating best practice and ideas from across the globe. As a membership play, Maverick Insider is tapping the true definition of reader support: the members care for the product, understand the role they play in its future and are emotionally rather than transactionally involved in its ongoing success. The variety of benefits on offer is really compelling as is the quality.”
Project name: Inside Politics
Company: Financial Times
Inside Politics, the Financial Times’s weekday morning newsletter from Stephen Bush, launched during a political year like no other. First, they started 2022 unpicking the madness from Partygate, rolling Brexit disputes and a flurry of Tory sleaze scandals which eventually cost Boris Johnson his premiership. Then, as the cost of living crisis deepened, Liz Truss launched an economics experiment, wiping £300bn off the UK stock market. Stephen, an award-winning journalist and former political editor of the New Statesman, treats each plot line with sparkling flair and humor, updating readers on what just happened and why it matters.
Every day, he also strives to brighten people’s inboxes with a short commentary on books, recipes, music and films – a feature that has proved hugely popular with readers (who regularly share their suggestions in turn).
Inside Politics is read at the highest levels of Downing Street and across Whitehall and brings the latest intelligence from insider sources to our readers and the top stories from the FT’s global network of reporters. Of its more than 21,000 subscribers (a list that has more than doubled since May, when Stephen began writing the newsletter), 41% regularly open the newsletter, and two-thirds rate it five out of five.
Project name: The Indo Daily
Company: Irish Independent
For decades the Irish Independent has been Ireland’s best-selling daily newspaper. Generations of Irish families have viewed them as a trusted source of news, information and entertainment. But with the media landscape changing rapidly and often unpredictably, they identified a greater need to be where the audience is.
Recognizing a gap in the market in 2022, the Irish Independent prioritized building an audio brand and output that could turn the newspaper’s readers into listeners and attract a new audience that is unlikely ever to buy a newspaper. While this was not a novel idea for a newsroom, they aimed to bring a news offering that Ireland still needed.
With an emphasis on story-telling and high production values, The Indo Daily delivers a crafted 20-minute listening experience six days a week. They bring the stories that matter to people to suit their daily routines. As a result, the trusted reputation of the podcast has grown.
Apple listed The Indo Daily podcast as “one to watch” in its annual roundup, and in less than a year, they have become the Number 1 news podcast on iTunes for Ireland. They are also regularly in the overall Spotify Top 5.
Project name: New NPG ePaper product
Company: NPG Digital
NPG Digital aimed to focus on the subscription business model for online news and strengthen its ePaper business. Launching new apps for the Lausitzer Rundschau (LR), MOZ.de, and SÜDWEST PRESSE has successfully combined the world of online news and the ePaper, providing users with a comprehensive platform for accessing their preferred news content.
The app’s visually separated interface offers an easy and seamless experience, allowing users to navigate and consume news content effortlessly. The added feature of the Modern View is a game-changer, taking the ePaper experience to a whole new level.
The Modern View is produced automatically from the print edition, providing a contemporary look and feel, making it easier to read on any screen size. In summary, integrating the online news and ePaper worlds with the Modern View and added features is a fantastic innovation, making the app stand out in the market.
Best trust initiative
Project name: Transparency portal – How we make VG
Company: Verdens Gang (VG)
With news fatigue among many users, especially young people, VG wanted to do something concrete to show people new solutions to understand and consume news. Moreover, they wanted to make their audience understand their editorial coverage by being open about the considerations inside the newsroom and providing answers on topics. These things are crucial for a young audience. They then decided to build on existing initiatives and create a transparency solution easily accessible to their users. They called it “How we work in VG.” Their project would also move the mindset in their organization towards more modern thinking.
The key to future success is building trust in the brand and news providers in general. The transparency portal and its thinking provide a significant shift compared to traditional ways of doing things. Adding features like the read-aloud function and bookmark list makes it even more convenient for readers to engage with the content. The app’s design and features are aesthetically pleasing and practical, providing users with an optimal reading experience. The successful launch of the transparency portal is a significant achievement in itself. It shows VG is willing to be open to users about internal discussions, putting this into best practice in the media house.