How Hearst is Winning the Battle for Consumer Attention

By Darren Goldsby, Chief Digital Officer, Hearst Magazines UK

My train to work every morning offers up a pretty good snapshot of what's going on in the world.

Like any commuter who has the joy of traveling into central London, I get into
a packed carriage full of people, and every one of those people gives me
a timely reminder of what my job is all about.

Because all of them, without fail, are head down with their eyes glued to a screen, headphones optional. And all those screens have something I want - their attention.

The pieces of content my audiences consume are many and varied. Like all good publishers, we go where our audiences go, and for us (like my fellow commuters) it's about mobile. Some 70 percent of our traffic now comes from mobile platforms. But boy do we have to work hard and fast to make sure we keep engaging those readers. For Hearst Magazines UK that means publishing over 300 articles and sharing more than 600 social posts per day.

With the battle for eyeballs, hearts and minds being as it is, none of us get a lot of chances to mess up. There's a big conversation going on about ad blocking and I can see why, because as the technology gets better more people will use ad blockers. It's easy to see how the
"weight" of ads with slow mobile connections might irritate the average consumer. I find it amazing that Tim Peake can call his wife from space, but I can't do the same from the train home because of the rubbish mobile reception.

I don't lose a lot of sleep over ad blocking. It just means that I need to provide a better way for advertisers to get their message across. Anyone in my job needs to be doing the same. Making sure that we are always look- ing for new ways to help advertisers reach our audiences in a way that doesn't impact their experience and that provides the levels of success they require - all while continuing to delight the reader - keeps the job interesting.

If you know and understand your audiences, and if they trust you, you can work with advertising partners to create propositions that are valued by consumers.

Investing heavily in technology helps, as does developing a global proprietary technology platform. It enables us to provide editorial teams with up-to-the-minute insight and data so that they can see instantly the content that is engaging their audiences and being shared the most. This means that our journalists' instincts are enhanced with data.

We're sharing content and ideas with our col- leagues, both from different brands and from different countries, more than ever and using this enhanced data capability to understand what works well, as well as when and where. It's an approach we call Shared Spaces, and it means we can create branded content that engages and inspires consumers.

An example is a Mother's Day campaign we ran on for Pandora. The content - five articles written by Cosmopolitan's editorial team and framed with Mother's Day-themed display ads - proved to be some of the most popular on the site, attracting over 300,000 unique visitors and generating nearly 400,000 page impressions.

Hearst also ran a campaign for Net ix's show "Jessica Jones," which involved creating co- branded "listicle" content around the show's main themes and designing a bespoke quiz, "How badass are you?" on to make "Jessica Jones" compelling to our audience. These delivered dwell times of over five minutes and one of the articles was in Cosmopolitan's top 20 most shared content on Facebook in December 2015, seen by 2.5 million Facebookers.

Success for us looks like an engaged audience who love and share our content, and a satis ed advertiser who reaches and connects with that audience with our help. The drive to deliver that is one of the reasons I get on that packed train every morning.