Advertising Audience Engagement
3 mins read

How to become essential… to your readers and your ad partners

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If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Decent advice when things are humming along smoothly, but what about now, in the midst of a pandemic? Should publishers be looking to fix things, or wait it out?

According to Bauer Media’s Lucie Cave, the most important thing publishers can do right now is to ensure their content is really working – for both their readers and their ad partners.

“Magazines are playing to their core strengths during lockdown providing audiences with connection and information, entertainment and inspiration, companionship and a much-needed escape,” Cave writes in Mediatel. “The impact of and feelings around coronavirus have been changing day by day, but as publishers we’ve used this as an opportunity rather than a threat.”

This time, this pause if you will, presents a rare opportunity for publishers to get inside their readers’ head. It’s working for Bauer Media, and they’ve been able to adapt their content in real-time to fill the need.

“We’ve been collecting insights from consumers across Bauer ever since lockdown to gauge their changing attitudes and consumption behaviour, and at Grazia we worked with Instagram on a study called ‘Life after Lockdown’ to find out what women were feeling about topics such as mental health, relationships, work, fashion, hobbies and money,” Cave continues.

“These insights have allowed us to shape our content – for example, as three quarters of women said that they wanted help and advice for anxiety, depression or loneliness caused by lockdown, we published a mental health special fronted by presenter and mental health advocate Fearne Cotton,” she continues.

Along the same vein, many of their readers expressed concern over finances, so the publisher partnered with investment company Share Centre “to collaborate and produce helpful and relatable advertorials and branded content that spoke authentically to our female audience, to help empower them when it comes to their own personal finance and investments.”

That is a real-time win-win that meets the needs of both reader and ad partner. Another great idea from Bauer was its series of Zoom interviews and feature articles with big names in entertainment, while we all wait, patiently or otherwise, for Hollywood to begin opening again.

And of course, there is Grazia, celebrating the work of the UK’s National Health Service. “The resulting four covers were our most engaged with covers across social media ever,” Cave notes.

She reminds us it’s not just what you say, but how you say it, especially now when consumers are questioning brand motives and company behaviors so closely.

“85% of audiences said messaging must not be exploitative,” Cave writes. “Continued, positive engagement with locked down audiences is important, but getting the tone of those communications right is vital.”

To help, the brand launched a “tone consultancy service” to help their ad partners get the messaging right … no doubt a welcome service as brands want to engage but often are unsure how they’ll be received. Smaller publishers would do well to offer this kind of service and support to their ad partners; after all, you likely know your readers better than they do.

“It’s been a time of huge change and challenges, but the publishing industry has been evolving, learning and adapting,” Cave continues. “And we know we must be doing something right when we continue to get messages like this … ‘Thank you so much for your latest issue, it was such a ray of light in an otherwise quite dark period in our lives. Please never stop Grazia – you are an essential service to us all!’”

Because isn’t that the best result a publisher could hope for… to become absolutely essential to its readers?

David Pilcher
VP of Sales & Marketing, Freeport Press