Content, ad relevance take on a growing role in digital media

By Rebecca Alter


Toronto, Ontario, Canada


On its own, the written word is no longer powerful enough to keep readers glued to a publisher’s Web sites and apps. Now, the most attention-grabbing content experiences must also be relevant to each audience member. From videos to retail and media, consumers expect brands to cater to their unique interests and habits online.

Research from McKinsey & Company reveals consumers were exposed to an increasing amount of personalisation during the peak of the pandemic, when they spent more time online. This has caused 71% of consumers to believe companies should be providing them with personalised experiences. The same research reveals 76% of people actually feel angry when organisations fail to deliver on this expectation.

Research indicates people expect personalised digital experiences, and they may even feel angry when organisations fail to deliver.
Research indicates people expect personalised digital experiences, and they may even feel angry when organisations fail to deliver.

With humans now craving relevant online experiences, media companies have an opportunity to use personalisation as a tool to grow.

Relevance draws crowds

Since relevance is associated with better user experiences, personalisation can help you set your company above its direct and indirect competitors.

Personalised online experiences allow users to tailor their content feeds, notifications, and mobile alerts to fit their interests and likes. Through these experiences, media companies can present audience members with content they can relate to and actually want to take the time to read.

Our own data shows users who build a personalised news feed spend more time reading content than ordinary users, offering up, on average, 3.15 times more pageviews. This can also lead to higher-performing content and more engaged readers.

Embracing personalisation has become business-critical for media companies. Those who don’t provide online experiences that align with audience interests are getting left behind by more advanced, data-driven brands.

“Personalisation drives performance and better customer outcomes,” notes McKinsey & Company. “Companies that grow faster drive 40% more of their revenue from personalisation than their slower-growing counterparts.”

Improve content and ad performance

For some media, content strategy is simple: Promote any content and ads that fit their brands and hope that whoever stumbles upon it will want to read and interact with it. Under these circumstances, content and ad performance are wildly unpredictable.

Other media companies take a more calculated approach by targeting different users with relevant content, depending on their unique habits and likes. This personalisation-powered strategy typically yields higher interest and engagement levels from audiences.

According to research from Deloitte, 49% of consumers would be unhappy with a service that doesn’t offer content recommendations that are interesting enough. Also, in a study of 1,000 consumers, PriceWaterhouseCoopers found that 72% of people favour ads that align with their interests.

To make Web site and app experiences better align with your audiences’ interests, you can draw on first-party data insights to find out what types of content resonate the most with different user groups. Then, segment those groups for advertisers that deal in related industries. Or you could even give readers direct control to filter your content and ads based on their preferences.

By taking the time to personalise ads and content for audience members, you can encourage them to rely on your brand regularly for experiences that resonate with their interests. Developing first-party data and content-targeting strategies will also help you build stronger relationships with advertisers.

A necessary way to meet your audience’s expectations

Many companies have been personalising their audience’s experiences for some time. That’s why you see product suggestions on Amazon, recommended videos on your streaming platforms, and what food people like to buy near your location on your restaurant delivery app.

As a result, consumers now expect this level of customisation from media companies, and they are even willing to give up their data in return. The more convenient and personally relevant the content is, the more likely consumers are to make a purchase based on it. In fact, data from VICE Media has uncovered that 90% of Gen Zers are willing to pay for content delivered in an engaging, convenient way.

Ultimately, relevance is key to creating appealing and lucrative value exchange moments between your company and its audience. Offering personalised experiences in return for user data, attention, and, eventually, revenue is a transaction that community members often can’t refuse.

About Rebecca Alter

By continuing to browse or by clicking “ACCEPT,” you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance your site experience. To learn more about how we use cookies, please see our privacy policy.