Time Out Australia’s pivot to Time In is resonating with readers


Our audience has responded to our rebrand with higher traffic numbers and the best Facebook interaction rate of our competitor set

Time Out’s temporary rebranding to Time In in the wake of the Covid-19 lockdown has had a huge impact on the way we operate. 

Since the branding kicked in on Monday March 16, Time In’s editors have moved away from the traditional content of venue reviews and going-out tips to focus on life under lockdown. This revised content strategy has involved content such as the latest pandemic news affecting city dwellers; food and drink delivery and other services supplied by an adapting hospitality sector; and home entertainment coverage, ranging from virtual galleries and concerts to the top movies to stream.  

Time Out takes its core mission – to bring you the best of the city and to get people out of the house and exploring – very seriously. Going out content is the very basis of our web traffic. So it was no surprise when we suffered a slight dip in week-on-week SEO traffic. We don’t deny this. But the downturn in ‘going out’ content was matched by our increase in social media referrals from news and Time In content.

Source: Nielsen Digital Content Ratings, Daily, March 1 - 28 2020, Text, People18+, Digital (C/M)

Indeed, the 'year on year' comparison shows we are significantly higher now. Last week (March 23-29), unique visitors were up 80% on this time last year in Melbourne, and up 70.12% in Sydney. This demonstrates how well the Time In approach is working.  

The Time In concept is now reflected on the website, eDMs and social media and it has captured the imagination of our readership. Since mid-February to date, Time Out Melbourne has topped local competitors on Facebook interaction rate, while Time Out Sydney has seen an increase in Facebook interactions since our pivot to Time In, putting it at the top of the list among our Sydney competitor set. We interpret the performance on Facebook as reflective of a high level of trust and engagement from Time Out’s audience in a time when the attention economy is skewing towards hard news mastheads. 

Source: CrowdTangle, Facebook pages, 29/12/2019-29/03/2020

Source: CrowdTangle, Facebook pages, 29/12/2019-29/03/2020

The first Time In newsletter that went out on March 16 saw our open rates spike to 30 per cent in Melbourne and Sydney. Again, this reflects a high level of interest and willingness on our readers’ part to engage in our new content direction, and in Sydney this is particularly impressive given recent hardships in the market resulting from the lockouts and summer bushfires. We are also producing a lot of content right now – around 100 features produced in two weeks across the Sydney and Melbourne sites to date. 

We are fortunate to be able to tap into our global sister cities who have felt this pandemic pain first. That’s put us ahead of the curve locally – simply because we could see what was coming. We are also accessing global insights across multiple markets that follow consumer behavioural patterns as the pandemic manifests, accelerates and abates. The global Time Out family is really coming together with this. 

Behind the scenes, Time Out has been campaigning to save the hospitality industry. As you know, our MD, Mike Rodrigues, is also chair of the Night Time Industries Association and in this capacity launched Keep Our Venues Alive, a campaign to obtain federal government support for the businesses we care about. The campaign is powered by a volunteer workforce which includes many leading hospitality veterans, and has helped put the independent hospitality scene on the radar of the government. The recently announced JobKeeper program is the first positive step towards minimising the human impact that lockdown has caused on hospitality professionals and businesses. The campaign will work hard to give the sector the best prospect of rebounding when the immediate threat posed by Covid-19 passes.

At that point, and in the wake of Time In, will be a new Time Out campaign, which we will be activating to support local venues. We’ll step that up once our cities start to bounce back and our beloved local favourites are operating again. 

At Time Out, we practice what we preach. We believe in our city and actively fight for it. Engagement is up, our content is soaring, and we are doing exactly what we always set out to do: stand by our city and live by our mission. We are experts, authentic and resilient.

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