Will Hayward Snap Media

Dazed Media wants to know how ‘cerebral content’ propagates across the web


By Jessica Goodfellow, Media Reporter

February 12, 2016 | 5 min read

It is no secret that publishers want to know how their articles propagate across the web but Dazed Media is going one step further to find out why what it calls ‘cerebral content’ like art gets shared.

The move is key to the media owner’s wider efforts to get brands onside with its editorial-led approach to sponsored content. Through its Story Lab deal with adtech company Sharethrough, Dazed is looking at how the kind of content it creates performs and shares across the web, something it eventually hopes to let advertisers in on.

“There is lots of research to show how hard news from the likes of the New York Times shares, but we are interested in how more cerebral aesthetic content like art shares that reaches a very different audiences and spreads very differently across different networks,” said Dazed’s chief commercial officer Will Hayward, who is also a judge at The Drum’s Online Media Awards.

“So far we have been keeping that information within the company and clients very closely, but that will one day become more public.”

Nine months after joining Dazed Media as its first commercial director Hayward is hard at work communicating to potential advertisers the merits of its renewed commitment to storytelling and how that impacts ads across its titles.

“There is no one golden metric, it's not about saying aesthetic content storytelling shares at a higher rate than memes etc, it's about what happens to it when it is online - where and how the people involved are having that conversation - on which platform do these things share really well,” claimed Hayward.

At a time when publishers have to be more pragmatic about where they host their content, Dazed’s bid to better understand how specific types are shared belies its attempt to leverage its knowledge of its readers in the uneasy union between publisher and technology platform. Like its rivals, Dazed understands that it has to give up much control of its distribution to survive online, though it plans to offset this with a focus on curated experiences for readers.

To do this the publisher is working very closely with emerging platforms like Snapchat to appeal to niche audiences, with Hayward saying “there are lots of things you can do with Discover that you cannot do with traditional accounts”.

Dazed are looking at apps as part of this curated experience, but interestingly focusing more on the most popular social media apps over developing their own, the opposite of what most publishers are doing, with Hayward stating that "obsessing over your own platforms" is no longer the obligatory strategy to take.

"Most research shows that 90 per cent time of spent in apps is spent within the top four or five apps globally, so when people talk about the applications of the web they are really talking about spending lots of time on Facebook and Instagram etc. So when you think about what Dazed’s strategy is its much more about what are we doing on those big social networks then whether we would choose to launch our own apps."

While Dazed is transitioning into being a digital-first new era publisher itself, competition in this area is fierce. The only way Dazed can compete is to continue to create niche content that no other publisher can do as well. Hayward joined Dazed from Buzzfeed, which practices a considerably different approach to content strategy. Hayward said he experienced a "big change" coming to Dazed from Buzzfeed which was "very focused on Facebook and Twitter", where Dazed is eyeing up more specialised platforms.

"At Dazed we can see massive global audiences that are niche and therefore interested in a different set of ideas, are hanging out in very different places and sharing content on different platforms."

The Online Media Awards 2016 are open for entries until 9 March. Click here to register.

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