The Hearst Magazines Digital Media division oversees more than 28 websites and 14 mobile sites, and is formulating strategies to increase advertiser ROI in the digital space while also enhancing the user experience and level of engagement across all of its brands.
In the video below, Grant Whitmore, vice president of Hearst Magazines Digital Media, briefly outlines Hearst’s video strategy, and provides some details on the company’s new personalized content delivery system. Kristine Welker, CRO of Hearst Magazines Digital Media, also shares how the company is executing on the Hearst Audience Exchange.
Welker says that about 78 percent of Hearst’s online users prefer an advertising experience that speaks directly to what they think is most relevant when it comes to the intersection of content and advertising—a statistic that supports the company’s recent, more formalized native advertising push.
“In this whole world of connectedness it’s important we have no dead ends,” she says. “We’re really focused on serving interest as opposed to just delivering impressions for our advertisers. So the three big things we’re focused on include native, our audience exchange and doing more of what we call intelligent display.”
The Hearst Audience Exchange is not so much a programmatic platform as it is a marketing tool that is all informed by data. The Audience Exchange provides audience targeting at scale that allows for custom segments that can create more dynamic advertising and content experiences.
“We are seeing a move and increased focus on how we bring data into the equation,” says Welker. “We’re looking at how we can pull data in so we can execute informed messaging so that when someone is on House Beautiful we can serve them an ad that is relevant to them. That same user may find themselves on Redbook, and (there) we can serve an ad that is relevant to them.”
Welker adds that an internal benefit from the Audience Exchange comes from operational efficiencies, in addition to seeing more deals that are transactional in nature that can be automated within the Audience Exchange.
“It has to be as good as the content around it,” adds Whitmore. “What we’re trying to do is find a place where an advertiser can authentically live on our platforms. You bring in things via Facebook or through Twitter feeds, and you do that within the context of one or more of our brands and you really introduce a way for the advertiser to be apart of the conversation within a trusted media brand in a social environment.”
Since April 2012 Hearst has seen social activity increase by 186 percent, and says that number will increase to 300 percent by the end of the year. About seven percent of all Hearst Web traffic is now derived from social, and Whitmore says that number should increase to 10 percent by the end of the year.
“We also continue to watch mobile and tablet traffic go through the roof,” says Whitmore. “Now about 30 percent of our traffic comes from tablets or mobile, and I would say of that 30 percent about 72 percent is coming through via smartphones, with the remainder being tablet.”
While Hearst is developing diverse strategies to reach the consumer of the day, FOLIO: asked Welker where she is focusing her attention in 2013 and beyond.
“It’s not about print or digital, premium or programmatic—it’s about taking a holistic view of the user and making sure we’re targeting the right message,” she says. “When I think about what’s next, I think about the sales force of the future. The sales force of the future requires that a team can’t be expert in one thing, but in all things. Users and consumers are device agnostic—it’s just how they live their daily lives—and they don’t differentiate between advertising and content that’s consumed on a social platform or a mobile platform. As a result, our sales team needs to be versed in all of these areas.”