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Huffington Post identifies new audience to sell to advertisers as it ‘doubles down’ on insights

The Huffington Post UK has created a new audience group of media literate and positive minded readers who have a complex relationship with brands as part of wider efforts to offer deeper insights to advertisers.

The publisher named the segment ‘Thrivers' after research it conducted in partnership with YouGov revealed they were more susceptible to brands.

More than half (56 per cent) of those 1,254 adults surveyed said they seek deeper brand relationships in exchange for experience and knowledge. Technology and lifestyle brands resonate most with Thrivers as they help facilitate their key goals of self-improvement through health, wellbeing and education.

Furthermore, six in ten (61 per cent) of Thrivers believe it’s important to buy from brands they feel have a positive social and environmental impact. Through a series of in-depth interviews with respondents in this group, Unilever Prudential, Innocent, Coop Group and John Lewis were top of mind for this audience.

Stephen Hull, editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post UK, said brands “need to think much more deeply than ever before about what it is they are offering”. It's no longer just a product, it's a way of life,” he continued. “That's very much a Thriver's view of the world. They'll listen to you and appreciate you more if you share what they believe in.”

Thrivers’ relationship with advertisers is influenced in part by the way they consume media. They are more likely to access news through multiple devices, with 48 per cent using a smartphone compared to 42 per cent for the national average. Additionally, 44 per cent of Thrivers tend to use several news sources to read around a headline, while more than half (56 per cent) like to talk with colleagues and friends “face to face” about a news story.

“The most significant thing about this research is that it confirms a lot of what we believed about how people already interact with news, said Hull.

“People who identify as HuffPost UK readers over index in so many of the areas where we focus our content. It doesn't mean we can't find better ways to present and distribute our content. Things we were doing when we launched we are not doing now, so it shows that if you stand still in this rapidly changing market then you're going to suffer.”

The report’s panel of 1,254 UK adult, comprised of 754 Huffington Post users and a control sample of 500 nationally representative adult. It then looked at the most common Thriver attitudes across the UK, and benchmark the propensity of its own users to match those characteristics against the national average.

The media owner hopes to convince advertisers to buy into its Thrivers concept and consequently spur wider efforts to take its content to more readers.

"More than 50 per cent of our global market comes from mobile and our What's Working initiative is designed to elevate solution based news for a new type of reader", added Hull.

The findings are indicative of the popularity of alternative news outlets like the Huffington Post, which have rapidly grown in recent years amid shifting consumption habits of news. A study from the Reuters Institute revealed that mainstream online news channels such as the BBC and CNN are finding their positions under increasing threat from a new breed of ‘digital born’ outlets such as The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed and Vice.

Hull said: “It's time for HuffPost UK to double down on our efforts to serve these readers by continuing to go beyond the headlines they read on other sites and instead add a new later of insight and understanding.”

The move comes as publishers employ an array of channels and technologies to gain a deeper understanding of how people consume their content. There has been a dramatic shift away from newspapers as a point of information distribution to social media and publishers are yet to work out how to turn the sporadic traffic coming from these new channels into regular visits.

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