Media Tech 2016: Cross-Channel Audience Development

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Cross-channel audience development isn’t a new initiative for media brands. However, up until now, these strategies have been more aspirational and failed more often than they have succeeded. As the digital technology landscape continues to grow in complexity, media companies are looking to build new bridges between their businesses and the consumer.

I had a chance to dive further into this topic during a panel discussion at Media Tech in New York last week, along with Betsy Cole, executive director of digital product and technology at The Atlantic, and Adam Ostrow, chief strategy officer at Mashable.

The Atlantic is tackling cross-channel audience development in two notable ways.

  1. They reinvigorated their print publication by creating a whole separate digital newsroom. They’ve invested heavily in making long-form magazine content available through their iOS and Android apps, which each require customer login, allowing them to gain insights into their readers.
  2. They’ve leveraging knowledge of their customer’s journeys – from discovering their content via Facebook, Twitter, etc. – to engaging on the website by leaving a comment or sharing an article on social media to finally subscribing to the magazine.

“We look at every person who views our content as a customer,” Cole said. “We are conscious of how people first interact with us, so we try to deepen the relationship with them and then make sure it’s good going forward.”

The Atlantic also implements a cross-functional team that coordinates both print and digital for its stories. This includes finding ways to make each story richer through video interviews with people quoted in the print story and making calls to action both online and in print to view supporting articles. Along with this, they are combining all of their email databases, putting their systems together and creating a holistic view of the customer to better engage with each of them.

Mashable is building these business-to-consumer relationships through two notable ways as well:

  1. Branded content. Similar to many media companies, branded content is Mashable’s primary offering for advertisers. Brands are searching to figure out an organic way to reach consumers. Mashable takes dry concepts, like finance, and finds ways to make it relevant and exciting to different audiences. For example, in its “Mashable explains” video series, it made finance interesting to millennials by bringing in an actor and had him create a series called “Finance Explained.” They were better able to relate and talk to this specific audience with this tactic.
  2. Discovery and Distribution. As part of their discovery and distribution process, the company built a predictive analytics tool which is central to how they create and distribute content. It uses analytics to crawl the web and make predictions about which stories and topics will be trending over the next 2 to 48 hours. Its editorial team used that data to develop stories for the website to create relevant and interesting content.

“We look to pair a content idea that we think is going to resonate with that audience, with the market that the advertiser is trying to reach,” Ostrow said.  

Mashable and The Atlantic are two examples of how media companies are looking to create cross-channel audience development. By finding new ways to reach and connect with customers, they are turning new audiences into loyal readers.

Take a look at how Janrain is helping other media companies create similar types of personalized experiences.