Hearst repackages content to better deliver premium audiences at scale

Hearst UK is repurposing its content around cross-brand propositions and deeper audience insights in an overhaul to flaunt the quality of its customer data amid greater pressure from Google and Facebook to control it.

The Cosmopolitan publisher wants the shift to put its biggest audience - women - front and centre of media plans trying to reach the demographic in the first half of 2015.

Advertisers can target a third of the women in the UK from its portfolio, Hearst has claimed, and the latest changes will look to display the quality of those audiences.

Repackaged data will unite readers under multiple titles or through behavioural, contextual and demographic data for the fist time in the hope of delivering ads at scale in a premium environment.

The strategy goes live in April when the publisher promises to reach one in three women and one in five men through its month-long “Hearst Beauty Unbound” initiative. Billed as a “beauty takeover”, all Hearst titles including Elle, Esquire and Harper’s Bazaar will create their own unique beauty theme from which brands can reach audiences.

Ella Dolphin, group commercial director at Hearst UK, said the initiative will also uncover sectors that “haven’t traditionally been used by magazine brands”. Retail and finance are areas of interest moving forward as well as luxury following the launch of Town and Country in 2013.

“We’re packaging up what we do really well and trying to make it easier for advertisers to work with us,” added Dolphin.

“What’s interesting about [Hearst Beauty Unbound] is that we’re giving advertisers two ways of accessing our readers. The first is through our brands as we’ve been developing their ecosystems as far as they can go, whether that’s through print, online or events. Secondly, it's that advertisers can access readers through contextual or behavioural data as well as by certain demographics.”

Hearst’s move to safeguard the value of its audience data comes at a time when publisher profitability is at risk from the likes of Google and Facebook monetising the data they generate.

The balance between publisher and social networks is aggravated by the increase in traffic publishers like Hearst are seeing come from users sharing articles online. Facebook is reportedly poised to propose a revenue-share deal with publishers that could see magazines host their articles on the social network’s mobile app.

Hearst’s update to its advertising proposition forms a core part of Hearst’s battle plan for 2015 that also encompasses native content and live events. Fewer but bigger native advertising deals will be struck over the next year, said Dolphin, with the publisher looking to be involved much further up in the strategic planning stages of campaigns.

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