Posts Tagged ‘ Online content ’

Seeking a Younger Audience Using Video – Make Sure You Understand Audience

4 Corners TV has built a growing audience of 25-45-year-olds, but constant experimentation in its year-long existence has shown that younger viewers don’t want straight news from their online videos, even if it’s irreverent. What its Southwestern audience does like is content on pot, extreme sports and local comedy, and the site is taking another crack at news, this time with a sock puppet.  See full article at NetNewsCheck.com.

By Doug Bennett

4CornersTV-home

It’s hard to imagine that last year at this time we were preparing for the first episode of 4CornersTV.com, an online network sprung from the understanding that our newspapers did not attract a younger demographic. Our goal was to attract and retain a younger audience through new formats and content choices.

Initial audience reactions led us away from daily coverage of socially-focused news to more entertainment-themed content on a weekly schedule. The coverage of adventure sports, craft breweries and other topics related to the four corners area of the Southwest and specifically the Durango, Colo. area resulted in a steady growth trajectory of site visits.

Here’s just a snapshot of the data we’ve collected in our first year: over half of weekly viewers are 25-45-years-old. We’ve seen an average 3,000 videos viewed each week (or over 12,000 views a month) and growing.

Other things we’ve noticed: 75% of all visits convert into video views, 54% of our visitors each week are new and 40% of traffic comes from mobile devices.

Because this demographic is more and more likely to consume its entertainment through mobile devices, we weren’t surprised at the numbers of tablets and smart phones in the analytics. What was surprising is that desktop usage is still very popular. This seems to correlate with the highest viewing times ranging from Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., when 57% of usage comes from desktop, leading us to believe this group has a habit of watching at work.

Eager to continue the steady increase in views, we reached outside our area to Farmington, New Mexico to tap into a larger audience.

Although the city of Farmington is only 45 miles away, it is demographically different and has over twice the population. To directly appeal to this audience, we featured Farmington specific episodes hosted by local talent, including a Navajo comedy team. The numbers jumped significantly, with average monthly site visits climbing from 12,000 to over 25,000 with over half in the desired age group.

Happy with the success we experienced when adding in additional geographic areas, we experimented with a strategic approach to our content to raise the number of our younger demographic visitors.

The 4CornersTV.com mission of delivering stories with an irreverent tone led us to push the boundaries with topics like cannabis, covering everything from dispensaries to edibles and more. Again, we saw a jump in interest. We also went more extreme with our adventure sports coverage showing mountain climbing, night biking and ice climbing, to name a few atypical sports popular in our area. This resulted in an all-time episode high and increased visitors in the target age group by 12 points.

During this period of testing we confirmed that straight news, even with an irreverent tone, was the least-watched programming. But we’re not ready to give up on news altogether, so we’re looking to models like “The Simpsons” to take a cynical, more off-kilter and character-driven approach to news to appeal to this important age group.

With this in mind, we’re introducing Phil N. Handy, a very talented sock puppet, to anchor our news desk. He’ll focus on slightly off-color stories using a humorous delivery, while keeping a straight face, as it were.

We’re beginning Phil’s welcome campaign through a mock press release and using social media to target groups that enjoy funny, experimental news content. This move towards more unconventional programming will be measured through audience growth numbers over the next quarter to determine if Phil’s “contract” will be renewed.

The lessons learned in our first year have brought a measure of success and given us the flexibility to try new ideas. Along the way, we realized that additional staffing was necessary to pull off the kind of programming that has worked, so we’ve added another editor and show producer along the way. Fortunately, our focus on entertainment over news has created a higher acceptance rate among advertisers, helping us to absorb the cost.

Our change is ongoing, and 4 Corners TV will constantly be experimenting and pushing the boundaries to capture this profitable younger demographic. We’re also in early stages of planning expansion into new cities with similar demographics as areas we serve today, but that’s a story for another time.greenlight[1]

Publishing Content For A Device Does NOT Equal New Audience

I have been immersed in digital media for over 17 years. And, although the digital world has evolved at rapid speed most recently, my main goal has always stayed the same: deliver content when, where and how people want it. Then, monetize the content via advertisements, subscriptions and ecommerce.

Traditionally, media companies have a large database of content that meets the needs of one mass audience, and it’s no secret that most traditional newspaper organizations have a strong foothold in the 50+ age group.  The newspaper creates a piece of content, and then delivers that content on multiple platforms.  This is driven by a “let the brand do the work” mentality.

Here’s the problem. Building content for one mass audience doesn’t work anymore.  Placing the content on smartphones and tablets that is pulled directly from your print newspaper and website, doesn’t mean you will all of a sudden attract a new and younger audience that’s using these devices.

Younger audiences expect news and information built specifically around their likes and dislikes. More so, they expect it to be structured to meet the different digital platforms.

Let me give you an example from my own company.  When we moved existing web content to smart phones, we found it met the needs of our current print and web audience of 50+, yet we weren’t reaching a new and younger audience. The traditional newspaper subscribers want convenient access on smart phones to the exact same stories as in print and online – just shorter versions of those stories.

With the iPad project, we decided to take a completely different approach. We looked at design and content differently in an effort to reach a younger demographic, that we knew was extremely active on iPads. We weren’t trying to satisfy/grow the current traditional 50+ demographic that made up our print/website brand.

For the iPad app, we started with a design that was very graphical and that categorized information around typical interests of a 35-45 year old. We developed original content and we curated existing content to focus on providing entertaining information as well as news. We were developing content around a specific audience, rather than driving the effort around the specific device.

Early results have been positive.  We continue to build a new audience that is very different than the traditional newspaper reader.  Our iPad app users are more engaged, spending on average approximately 11 minutes for every visit.  They are heavy users in the evening, from 6-10pm.  The majority of users fall in the 25-45 age group.  At least 60% of the iPad app content is still being created by our existing ‘traditional’ content center, but a separate iPad production team is curating it.  Our original content offering, in addition to the curated content, has proven to be very successful at building a new and younger loyal audience.  However, must continue to grow this audience to a size that rivals our other online efforts, in order to call this a true success story.

This being said, we know it’s time to cater to the traditional newspaper audience as well, as they too are purchasing iPads and consuming news on them. We’ll give this audience what they want by providing  a format similar to the structure of a news focused product.  It will still take advantage of the technology but in a fashion that is consistent with expected content for the traditional audience.  Call it an interactive newspaper.

In the end, when looking at the early successes of our current iPad app product, we’ve learned our challenges go beyond apps and devices when delivering news to reach new audiences.  We can’t build one content database and deliver it on multiple platforms. Whether its iPads, smartphones, online, or print, we must continue in our iPad app curated and original content mindset, by building content for specific audiences and specific platforms.