Gavin Sheppard / Chief Marketing Officer at Smart Energy GB

Marketers Need to Pay Greater Attention to Magazines

Attention is the life-blood of advertising. No matter which way you cut it, advertising can only work if audiences are paying attention to the message and the environment it resides in.

With the proliferation of social media and second-screens, capturing the undivided attention of a consumer is a greater challenge now than it ever has been before. A recent report from Enders Analysis found that advertisers are placing a priority on poor quality attention. That is a consequence of an increased focus on maximising reach and achieving short-term goals.

Cost-efficient, reach-driving channels clearly perform a key role as part of the media mix. However, by focusing purely on these channels, as brands, we run the risk of denying ourselves the longer-term benefits of higher quality attention.

Marketers should be asking - is my campaign capturing enough attention?

At Smart Energy GB, this is a question I ask myself a lot. Our mission is to convince every household in Britain to book a smart meter installation for their home. With that, we have had to grapple with the challenge of engaging a diverse set of audiences with a complex message from a low interest and extremely low trust category.

Independent tracking had highlighted that engagement among 20-28 year olds and over-65s was lagging behind the national average. To address this, we needed to deliver tailored communications in an environment, which allowed enough time and space for the audience to digest a complex message. Reaching these audiences more efficiently in online channels would not be sufficient; we needed to capture and hold their attention.

The solution we reached was a series of magazine partnerships, bringing to life the existing creative concept of ‘The Power of 10p’. By illustrating what was possible with just 10p’s worth of power, the idea reframes personal energy saving as significant. This also proclaimed the smart meter product as an easy way of monitoring and adjusting energy usage. Magazines represented the perfect environment to communicate a new set of 10p examples, tailored to our key audiences.

To engage the younger audience, we teamed up with Hearst’s Cosmopolitan, Digital Spy and Men’s Health. They developed a content series tapping into the most relevant passion points of each publication’s readers. From Digital Spy’s ‘How Many Goals Can You Score on FIFA with 10p Worth of Energy?’ to a feature in Cosmopolitan on how much energy it takes to get ready for a night out.

Our partnership with Immediate Media focused on a very different audience. The over-65s – tapping into the large, and relevant reach of the print editions of the Radio Times, BBC Gardeners’ World and BBC Good Food. The Power Of 10p executions reflected their interests,such as a Gardeners’ World feature on how far 10p of energy gets you with your gardening.

Magazines offered us an environment in which our messaging was contextualised and absorbed in a meaningful way. Being able to capture this attention led to tangible results. With the Hearst partnership delivering more than 1.2 million video views and inspiring 67 per cent of those viewers to take action. At the same time, our work with Immediate Media reached over 6.5 million UK readers, producing a 32 per cent uplift on the statement - ‘It’s easy to get a smart meter installed’.

Magazines don’t deliver the reach or cost-per-thousands of Facebook. But engagement on Facebook is measured as a three-second-glance, and indeed within an increasingly questionable ‘brand safety’ environment. People will sit down with a magazine for hours, and our content will not be consumed alongside fake news or inappropriate content.

Advertising is all about attention. For most brands, that level of engagement is priceless. Magazines foster focus and capture the undivided attention of audiences like no other channel. They are a fundamental part of the media mix and marketers should be paying far greater attention to what they can deliver.