Fairfax boosts reader services with new portal

Fairfax Media owns New Zealand’s most popular news website, Stuff.co.nz which reaches more than 1,800,000 people each month and recently overtook TradeMe as the country’s fourth most visited website after Google, Facebook and Microsoft.

Fairfax Media is a leading multi-platform media company in New Zealand.

More than 600 journalists also publish nine daily newspapers including The Dominion Post, 50-plus community papers and 25 magazines including NZ Autocar, NZ Gardener and Cuisine. 

The Challenge

As part of a wider strategy, Fairfax wanted to create a membership portal that would act as a single entry point for customers across all of their digital platforms. Having a single source of customer data was expected to give Fairfax a better understanding of their customers, resulting in better relationship management and engagement through an improved customer experience.

Fairfax approached Datacom with the project’s requirements and work began in July 2014.

The Datacom Difference

We developed an identity management system and membership portal, my.stuff.co.nz, which centred on the user’s profile and offered an improved online experience. As part of the project, existing members were migrated from the old legacy system to a new database.

In addition to managing user identities, key features of the portal include a self-service capability for newspaper subscriptions. Subscribers can report delivery issues or put their papers on hold when on holiday and donate their papers for arts and crafts activities through the Tools for Schools programme.

Online newsletters are a significant and scaling part of Fairfax’s reach in the digital space, with many users subscribed to receive top news headlines in their inbox every morning covering a variety of topics from Stuff. Users can also sign up as a subject expert with the ‘Open Newsroom Network’ which means they may be contacted to provide a comment or sound bite for an upcoming news story.


  • Since the December 2014 release there has been an increase of 61% in new member registrations via the portal.
  • Fairfax has been able to leverage the single sign-on capability across their different platforms, including apps and transactional website Mags4Gifts. This has given Fairfax a deeper understanding of their customers across both their print and digital assets.
  • The customer profile data captured via the portal has not only improved Fairfax’s analytics capabilities, but has also allowed the company to improve targeting to their customers through relevant advertising and email communications.
  • Fairfax is constantly looking at ways to improve customer experience and engagement and have been using the portal to trial added value content projects. One example is School Report, a content initiative launched in July, which enables members to view rich NCEA data. To date, this content has already been attributed to 5% of new registrations.

We led the delivery, working with multiple teams across Fairfax New Zealand and other suppliers to deliver a completed MVP portal over six months.  The process was rapid and adaptive, thanks to the close relationship between Datacom and a highly engaged team of stakeholders at Fairfax.

The project team performed daily stand-ups via video conference with team members across New Zealand, and met in person for collaboration as necessary. We were strict about adhering to timeframes with regular milestone dates that coincided with progress walk-throughs and demos. Challenges were dealt with by time boxing and scaling the team to avoid compromising on quality or the deadline. 

The combination of collaboration and great direction meant that the team could work quickly while  allowing for flexibility when challenges arose. 

This approach resulted in Fairfax and Datacom achieving a significant delivery within a short time.

"The most crucial ingredient in this successful delivery – and perhaps the element that I’m most satisfied with – was that Datacom believed in why and what we were trying to deliver to our customers."

Fei Bian Goh, Senior Product Manager - Fairfax Media