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We must be passionate about our consumers’ passions

  • Date:

    04 November 2021

We must be passionate about our consumers’ passions

This article originally appeared on Mediatel here

Passions matter to consumers and tapping into them delivers better outcomes for media owners and advertisers, writes Duncan Tickell, CRO at Immediate Media

When people are doing or learning about the things they love, they are happier, more engaged, loyal and in turn they make the most valuable customers.

And this has come to the fore over last 18 months as people reconnected with the things that matter to them most – at a time when they needed it most.

We’ve centred our business around this, operating in markets such as food, entertainment, gardening and cycling, which have proven more resilient than most to the structural changes that have taken place in media over recent years.

These trends were reflected in the most recent ABC release, titles in growth were all in news and special interest, categories where readers care deeply about the content, for example circulation in gardening was up 34% and food 12%.

Furthermore, an underlying theme in this growth, seen across the industry, was increased loyalty with a steep rise in print and digital subscriptions since the start of the pandemic.

But how do you retain this level of engagement as the world unlocks?

Diversifying content

Passion-based content inspires loyalty as consumers look to trusted media brands for guidance and inspiration, evidenced by the record subscription levels mentioned previously.

These recurring revenues were also a key consideration in Future’s recent decision to acquire Dennis for £300m, a 10x multiple, a valuation in line with premium media assets.

This growth has also been accompanied by significant growth in digital audiences across the board. At the peak of the pandemic our portfolio peaked at 82m visitors a month.

These growing audiences have created new opportunities for publishers with businesses rooted in the passion economy.

Many found new ways to connect with readers by diversifying content into new formats including audio and video, and by developing new commerce businesses and paid-content offers to generate further growth.

Take food and the successes enjoyed by pure plays such as Twisted and TasteMade, both of whom have enjoyed considerable success creating great content for avid foodies.

Whether it be the creation of podcasts, webinars, e-learning platforms or video, providing these groups a place to build communities around their passion is now table stakes across the industry.

We can’t go back to the traditional content channels when deeper engagement is now a standard expectation of our audience. But it is through these deeper connections where we see the greatest potential.

Passions as advertising opportunities

Tapping into passions isn’t just important for media owners, it also represents a fantastic opportunity for advertisers.

In the same way that engaged consumers create loyalty for media owners, they are more receptive to advertising too.

And just as they value trusted content, they also value trusted brands, something evidenced through our ad effectiveness benchmarking database, that spans several years of data.

And whilst you’d expect this to be the case for advertisers that are endemic to specialist verticals, what might come as a surprise is that understanding passions enables non-endemic advertisers to tailor their message to those same audiences.

No matter what the product, the most successful campaigns manage to connect the consumers in an authentic way, something that passion brands excel at.

The key is retaining it as people revert back to previous ways of life, with work, commuting and socialising coming back to the fore.

That’s why it’s important to increasingly work closely with advertisers to deliver tailored messaging that will continue to maximise brand uplift and sales through these trusted, contextually relevant environments, something that’s becoming increasingly valuable in a privacy-first advertising ecosystem.

Engaged customers make better customers, be it for products or advertising partners, which has been proven over the last 18 months.

As customers continue to reconnect with the things that matter to them, media owners and advertisers who understand and target these fundamentals will continue to flourish.

After all, passions matter.

Duncan Tickell is chief revenue officer at Immediate Media