For advertisers and brands chasing younger eyeballs, it’s no surprise they’re turning to youth digital publishing and news sites to help.
Millennials are more informed, curious and engaged with news and online content than ever before. This is not only good news for advertisers wanting to reach a uber-targeted audience but also good news for three of the biggest youth digital platforms in Australia – Pedestrian, Junkee and GOAT.
These three digital news sites have all experienced significant website traffic growth over the last couple of years and in particular, the last few weeks as Millenials turn to these trusted-sources for COVID-19 news and updates.
Yet with youth digital publications all chasing the same demographic, how do these publishers stand out from the crowd while also ensuring they’re earning their share of the market?
Before the CV-19 pandemic, B&T chatted with Pedestrian Group CEO Matt Rowley, Junkee chief content and creative officer Neil Ackland and Nova (owner of GOAT) digital commercial director Kane Reiken to understand how each player engages and retains its unique audiences in a growing and competitive space.
The benefit of a big brother
Perhaps the key to reaching a wide youth audience is the backing of a bigger business. Pedestrian TV, GOAT and Junkee all have the backing of a big brother. For Pedestrian TV, it’s Pedestrian Group, GOAT is backed by Nova, and Junkee has oOh!media behind it.
For GOAT, which launched two years ago, having the support of Nova is certainly a major benefit.
“We’ve taken the approach [with GOAT] that we really utilise our total ecosystem. GOAT plays a role in Nova across broadcast, and that can be either mentions from our hosts right through to promotion across our commercial inventory and integration into different assets.
“We really love that in terms of using GOAT as a way to kind of further build out the total ecosystem and vice versa.”
Meanwhile, 60 per cent of Pedestrian TV was bought by Nine in 2015, while the remaining 40 per cent was purchased in September 2018. In December that same year, Pedestrian TV merged with Allure Media to created Pedestrian Group. Publications under the group banner include Pedestrian TV, POPSUGAR, Business Insider, Gizmodo, Lifehacker and Kotaku.
Pedestrian Group CEO Matt Rowley said since the merger with Allure, Pedestrian TV audience growth has been up 28 per cent year on year.
Rowley brings the growth down to the different audience and editorial teams “learning from each other” and driving “really strong growth.” He said the merger was “the ultimate payoff”.
Meanwhile, the merger has also driven and diversified revenue. The group doesn’t have separate sales teams, with the one team working across all of Pedestrian’s publishers and brands.
When it comes to clients, Rowley said the benefit of several brands under the one umbrella means Pedestrian can “pick the different mastheads that make sense” from a commercial aspect. He said sometimes ideas will run across the different publications and brands. According to Rowley, this has meant for publishing site Business Insider, for example, revenue is the greatest its been in 12 months.
Junkee, of course, is now backed by outdoor media player oOh!media. The out-of-home company purchased an 85 per cent stake in Junkee in June 2016.
Ackland said while the core of Junkee hasn’t changed as a result of oOh!’s acquisition, it’s been able to significantly broaden its reach.
“We’re able to use those digital screen network to push our content and our brand out there and get it in front of lots more people which has an impact not just on brand awareness, but also just getting our content to our audiences in different environments, which has been really, really good.
“Having a big media company behind us has enabled us to grow the business quite significantly and make some investment in doing some things like the launch of Punkee after oOh! took us over and we’ve been able to do lots more things that we always dreamed of doing when we were independent that we’re not able to do with big brother.”
Same-same but different
Youth-focused. Reality TV recaps. Pop-culture. News with a twist. It seems most youth-focused publications offer the same type of content, so how do each stand out in their own right?
GOAT, which is of of the newest players, entering the market in mid-2018, certainly had its worked cut out. However, while Reiken conceded its competitors are “very impressive in their own right”, the publication does have an edge in that it “integrates [its] offering across [its] different platforms” and tone of voice.
He added: “The real difference for us and how we try to define our role and space in this environment is really kind of understanding the news and providing kind of the right tools and the story behind the news to give to our audiences.
“So although they might seem similar on paper, I think when you do deep dive into the environment and understand the tone of voice and the way that they are written, I think you can see that they do kind of target different elements of the marketplace.”
Ackland said Junkee is able to stand out from the crowd in three key areas: people and culture; tone of voice and quality; and its connection with oOh!Media.
“We have an incredible team of some of the most dynamic young creatives in Australia, who we continue to invest in. Our culture remains incredibly strong and, and people will stay with us for a long time. We see our people as a real differentiator, such as the creativity and the quality of work they can deliver for clients,” said Ackland.
He continued: “Over the years, we’ve really carved out a really unique tone in terms of what we’re producing. You can pretty much read a piece of content from Junkee and you know who it’s from instantly.
“Lastly, I think our connection with oOh! and our ability to package up our online assets with theirs gives us complete differentiation. If you add up our online reach with our reach of use in our outdoor, we’re really the undisputed number one in terms of reaching young people in Australia and keep us really strong.”
Rowley said Pedestrian’s point of difference is its fleet of publications. While it may be targeting a youth demographic, according to Rowley, each of Pedestrian’s publisher’s audience is vastly different.
“One of the things that we know and we’ve seen it really strongly through our research is that when we look at those age groups, say, 18 to 34, as an example, they’re all really different across our different brands.
“They’re never looking for the same thing and don’t all have the same desires in life. They don’t lead their life the same way, even though they’re all young. Whichever way you cut it, even if it’s 18 to 24, they’re all different.
“What we get to do from an audience and commercial perspective is think about how we want to focus content and which sort of channels we’re going to use, because they all need very different channels.”
The COVID-19 lift
Perhaps both fortuitously and non-fortuitously, Pedestrian TV, GOAT and Junkee have all experienced traffic lift as audiences turn to digital news sites for not only COVID-19-related news but entertainment content during these troubling times.
Melissa Matheson, Editor of GOAT said: “GOAT’s philosophy has always been to provide the second story first – staying one step ahead of the thought process.
“With so many ever-changing rules, restrictions and data, GOAT’s agenda now is all about ‘what does it all mean?’ COVID-19 stories are now accounting for about three-quarters of our content, but our audience wants relief, and that means providing everything from snapshots of the latest government policy so they know what’s going on, to tips on how to make the most of your downtime by getting fit, learning a new skill or just staying in touch with friends in a fun way.
Over at Pedestrian TV, it has created a vertical focused on the positive response to coronavirus called ‘The C-word’ – you cover your mouth and we’ll cover the rest.’
Said Rowley: “We’re seeing a spike in readership, particularly in sites more closely associated with the news cycle like Business Insider and Pedestrian.TV, where user numbers are up substantially.
“People still love a good yarn though, and the number one story on P.TV during this time is actually titled An Aussie Uni Lecturer Accidentally Recorded The Moment She Busted A Mid-Class Handjob!”
Meanwhile at Junkee, traffic is up 40 per cent compared to usual, with a mix between CV-19 content and light content like MAFS recaps and what to watch during isolation being readers’ articles of choice.
Ackland said: “Across our whole Junkee Media network, our flagship news title Junkee will educate, translate, inform, debunk and cover all angles of COVID-19 for millennials and Gen Z, as well as continue to help navigate all of the entertainment options for the next few months on our couches. And Punkee will provide a welcome distraction from it all because we all need to switch off every now and again.”
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