If we could live our lives smarter, wouldn’t we all?
That’s the concept behind a podcast turned YouTube news project created by a group of young and talented brains at JoongAng Ilbo, Korea’s biggest newspaper company. JoongAng Ilbo is at the forefront of media innovation and digital-first mentality in the country. The company is the brains behind Naver, an online news site they call “the place to be” for news in Korea.
Jim Bulley is the global insights manager at JoongAng Ilbo. He spoke to attendees last week of INMA’s Asia/Pacific News Media Summit about the company’s latest project targeting a Millennial and Gen Z female audience: the podcast and YouTube channel titled, “Listen for a Smart Life,” or LSL for short.
“Everything from content, tone, delivery, branding, marketing, partnerships are all designed with that audience in mind,” Bulley said. “That’s the whole reason it’s special.” To do this, everyone who works on the project is a Millennial or Gen Z journalist, producer, or developer.
Bulley outlined three major areas of focus for LSL:
The team picks topics out of the news and presents them in a way that appeals to a younger audience. This includes adding perspective, content, history and backstory to the news they’re telling, Bulley said.
“The idea of a news podcast that targeted young people was something we hadn’t really seen before,” he said. “News podcasts in Korea up to that point overwhelmingly targeted older listeners.” Bulley credits LSL’s success to audience fatigue increasing because of fake news and bias, paired with a lack of trustworthy and credible news options in the Korean market.
LSL added a YouTube channel in 2020. The timing ended up being perfect for what the world was about to encounter.
“In many ways we were lucky to be already positioned with this product when the coronavirus pandemic started,” Bulley said. “We started with a pre-survey to find out what the audience really wanted. We already had a captive audience from the podcast, so expanding that onto YouTube was fairly easy.”
More than 70% of the Korean millennial and Gen Z market uses YouTube every day, Bulley said, so with this new addition, the team wanted an intentional and consistent strategy. The company releases podcasts on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesdays. YouTube videos come out on Thursdays and new social media content is saved for Fridays. This way, the audience creates habits. The company actually has trained viewers to wait for new content and let them know when to expect it.
LSL’s business model is made up of advertisements, content sales, and community business. They have found their audience likes and appreciates informative advertising. LSL creates the content for the ads with the goal of being open, honest, and providing information as useful as their news articles.
LSL found in the comments of its YouTube page that the audience was happy for them for making money so they can continue to provide them with a great product.
“We work with companies we think are going to benefit the company anyway,” Bulley said. They’re also looking more toward creating original content to appear on “Flo” (Korea’s version of the music app, Spotify) and community content, like running its own online book club, which has allowed LSL to better align itself with the community.
Looking to the future, Bulley and LSL are focused on what Bulley refers to as Korea’s “lockdown generation.” This happens to be the same audience LSL targets. The company’s 2021-2022 projects include several different series like one on technology, one about health, and one geared toward women with money, titled “Woney.”
“Woney was an attempt to inform people who may be making bad investment decisions or not really understanding how the market works, or how to save their money.”
JoongAng Ilbo also looks to move LSL toward a subscription model in 2022. The team looks forward to providing more personalisation for individual viewers and more integrated content for the Millennial and Gen Z market.