Content is king, but it goes where data drives it

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The relationship between content and data is coming to define the way in which marketers communicate with their target audiences.

The past week has seen a pair of opposing examples of the ways in which brands link the two – both different in intent and in effect.

On Monday broadcaster BSkyB announced that from July it will close its Sky Sports and Sky Movies customer magazines, and reduce the frequency of another, Sky Magazine, replacing them with weekly email updates. Going in the other direction, DIY brand B&Q has launched a new monthly magazine delivered directly to a circulation of 5 million.

For Sky – a media company that is hosting more of its own broadcast content online, and seeking to attract people to its websites for news and reviews – the effort and expense of producing three printed magazine titles might seem relatively unrewarding. Instead, the brand will send updates over email linking to online content and programme highlights.

Sky will have to get its execution right, however, to ensure it gains in immediacy at least as much as it loses in engagement with the magazine editorial. Even after opting in, email subscribers still need a good reason to open a message every week. Links alone might not be enough, and the last thing Sky will want is customers withholding their data or asking not to be contacted.

While Sky has opted for the scalpel of email, B&Q has picked up a sledgehammer and is bearing down on millions of doors around the country. That is not to say the brand is swinging aimlessly – it has targeted the door-drop of its B&Q Home publication at addresses in the catchment areas of its stores.

It is a blunt tool, but data-powered nonetheless.

The initiative is essentially an exercise in awareness. Its aim is to change perceptions of the brand, reframing DIY as “design-it-yourself”. With advice and ideas from household names (no pun intended) like Alan Titchmarsh and Kirstie Allsop, it encourages people to imagine how B&Q might help make their house a home, rather than thinking of it as just a place to buy paint.

Whether it has chosen the right vehicle to do this with such a broad targeting base remains to be seen. The publication has the potential both to inspire and to annoy.

Ultimately, it is not one or the other but the combination of content and data that will determine whether these brands’ output is engaging enough to meet their marketing goals.

See comment below for more on the value of customer magazines.

Please help us to understand marketers’ attitudes to data – and you could win £200 John Lewis vouchers. Click here to fill out the Marketing Week/Data Strategy survey on multi-channel marketing, in association with Alterian. Your answers will inform an in-depth piece to be published in Marketing Week during March this year.

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