Jon O’Donnell, Managing Director of ESI Commercial, told the audience that the business has ‘reshaped’ its offering, but that all of its elements are connected by its data capability.
“Data connects everything we do – shaping editorial and optimising commercial partners’ campaigns,” he said, adding: “Our audience and our influence is growing.”
Katie Ingram, Marketing and Insights Director, said that ESI Media is innovating all the time – having just launched ESI Realtime, for instance, a tool which enables advertisers and their agencies to optimise campaigns using content that is trending across ESI Media’s portfolio. Brands such as Kronenbourg have been using it to good effect, she said.
Jo Holdaway, Chief Data Officer at ESI Media, also showed delegates Chartbeat, a tool already employed by the newsrooms to inform editors which stories are resonating with readers. “We have now made a commercial application out of it,” she explained. Articles an be filtered by brand, referral source or device to give a real-time view of what is most popular at any one time and bookings made to reserve inventory within custom parameters.
What’s more, with GDPR coming soon, Emma Martin, ESI’s Commercial Data Manager, pointed out that first-party data will be more important than ever. “This is all about using data to help clients create more relevant content,” she added.
Meanwhile, Ben Norum, the Evening Standard’s Going Out Editor, pointed out that the London paper’s site is becoming increasingly interactive and now enabling users to book directly on it. ‘Going Out’ is also now on Amazon Alexa, offering a daily guide to what’s on in the UK capital.
David Tomchak, Director of Digital, Editorial, at the Evening Standard – formerly Number 10 Downing Street’s Head of Digital – added that a renewed focus on ‘aspirational’, urban lifestyle features and stories is set to prove popular, stressing the ‘universality’ of the urban lifestyle concept.
ESI’s Chief Digital Revenue officer, Scott Deutrom, introduced a hard-hitting video from Kim Sengupta, The Independent’s Defence and Diplomatic Editor, which served to underscore the need to invest in quality journalism, especially in this world of fake news.
“Real news is absolutely essential,” said Deutrom. “These stories need to be told. But we need funding to do it.”
Fortunately, the likes of the Realtime and Chartbeat platforms - and Story Studio, ESI Media’s content studio - is attracting a range of advertisers to the Evening Standard and the Independent brands, and helping them to build effective content marketing which fits seamlessly with the editorial.
Dave Maclean, The Independent’s Lifestyle Editor, who joined from Sky News, added that video is a massive focus, and pointed out that the lifestyle section has gone from 6m to 30m unique visitors a month, a 500% increase in just one year.
Paul Hylden, ESI’s Commercial Digital Director, who works closely alongside Maclean, pointed out that the business is setting out to build communities ‘outside of the core news stream’.
“Advertisers feel safer outside of news,” he admitted. “The world is a pretty crazy place at the moment.”
“I came here to do interesting things with content marketing,” he added, emphasising the need for quality and authenticity. “We push people away if they are too self-promoting. When people want to collaborate on content they need to use our tone, our voice.”
He also highlighted the increased focus on discrete audiences across strands such as travel, relationships and fitness. “We are serving audiences in a more granular way, driving engagement,” he explained. “The industry got carried away with volume. But in these communities you find influencers with huge followings who are liking and sharing content. Fundamentally, technology has changed how consumers interact with content and with advertising.”