How the Beano exploded back into the public consciousness

A targeted campaign designed to drive digital, reignite parental brand awareness and create an audience for its new TV show, helped Beano Studios grow its reach among kids aged six to 12 by 2,000%.

The BeanoDespite being affectionately known as the home rebellious comedy, it is fair to say that the Beano brand had lain dormant in the public consciousness for a number of years. The team at Beano Studios were convinced this perception needed shaking up if it was going to show fans young and old it had evolved into a diverse entertainment group, spanning TV, digital content, events, consumer products, partnerships, a comic and annual.

With the launch of digital channel Beano.com in September 2016, Beano Studios knew the time was right to reawaken its army of parent fans and rev up its investment in content for kids aged six to 12 across digital and broadcast.

The overall brief was to reignite the Beano brand by driving the digital growth of Beano.com, developing a clearer, more directive user experience, delivering better video content and increasing organic traffic.

It was key to improve parental trust and awareness of the Beano.com as an alternative to other sites in the kids’ digital space. Furthermore, the team needed to ensure the launch on CBBC of Beano’s first TV show, ‘Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed!’ would succeed in driving the Beano brand and products, while still adhering to the BBC’s policy restrictions.

Knowing the brand’s data and insight would set it apart, Beano Studios started off by creating a proprietary data platform. Called the ‘Beano Brain’, the platform weaves together real-time analytics and deep-ethnographic research, determining all the priorities for content production and curation.

The team then plugged into the Beano Trendspotters panel of kids across the UK, who each week are interviewed on their media habits, playground trends, passions and anxieties. In 2017, 22 children took part in more than 170 hours of interviews.

Beano Studios used this insight to form a partnership with mental health charity YoungMinds, which lead to the creation of a whitepaper attesting to parental confusion over their children’s online behaviour.

Internally, the team restructured to put video at the heart of strategy and accelerate the creation process. From July to December 2017, Beano Studios saw a 500% increase in video views, combined with a 50% increase in productivity.

Organic PR traffic was another important tool. The Beano’s best performing PR stunt of 2017 was the cease and desist letter it sent to “Tory killjoy” Jacob Rees-Mogg for his persistent impersonation of Walter from the Beano comic. The stunt resulted in more than 800 articles, coverage across 60 national press and broadcast channels and a five-minute BBC News interview with Rees-Mogg himself. The Beano even gained 2,100 Twitter followers in one day, with no paid promotion.

Then to drive interest in Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed! Beano.com launched a hub on Beano.com four months before the show was broadcast on TV in order to secure large swatches of search traffic relating to the programme. The hub featured more than 40 videos, alongside quizzes and games to drive engagement. There was also a TV campaign screened on kids’ TV and digital pre-roll to link Dennis and Beano.com.

Growth curve

The hard work paid off in a number of ways, including Beano Studios being crowned winner of the Marketing Week Masters Award for Media, Gaming and Entertainment in October 2018.

Brand awareness among parents of six- to 12-year-olds is now at 91%, up from 70% in May 2016. Trust scores for the digital platform are at 74%, rising from 56% in May 2016, double that of YouTube (37%). Furthermore, brand awareness among the core 6 to 12 demographic rose to 73% in January 2018, increasing from 50% in May 2016.

By December 2017, Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed! had claimed a 26% share of kids’ TV viewing, pushing it into the top 10 kids shows on British TV with over three million people watching the show in the autumn. This was also the biggest month to date for Beano.com, with monthly figures up 550% year on year, including the website’s biggest ever SEO and direct traffic month.

Within two months of its initial broadcast, recognition of Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed! was at 49%, according to a Beano Panelbase survey of 1,000 6- to 12-year-olds in January 2018. The success of the show in the UK helped Beano sell the format to over 15 markets internationally.

Since relaunching in September 2016, the Beano.com has gone on to become the fastest-growing kids’ website in the UK. Audience numbers rose by 562% year on year in December 2017, according to Comscore, while in May 2018 monthly figures were up 10 times compared to the previous year. This figure includes an 8.5 times increase in organic traffic.

Furthermore, since the launch of Beano.com the Beano printed comic has posted year-on-year growth of almost 10% in a market which decreased by 8% in 2017.

Across the web and app, Beano Studios reached over 1.5 million kids, the equivalent of 30% of all UK children aged six to 12, which represents a rise of nearly 2,000% on the equivalent period. The US is now the company’s fastest growing market, with a rapid growth in organic users.

Overall the team created 5,000 pieces of content, including over 1,000 videos, 500 quizzes and six bespoke games. In the six months from July 2017 to January 2018, the Beano notched up a 500% increase in monthly video views, with the monthly network reach across Beano.com, social and YouTube hitting four million.

Beano Studios also saw a 35% improvement in click-through rates on Beano digital marketing, including an over 100% increase in paid marketing user dwell time.

To top it off, the Beano ended 2018 with a successful launch of its SO Beano! show on Sky Kids.

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