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The Economist 'hedges' on social

News, 17 February 2016

LONDON: The Economist, the weekly current affairs magazine, has developed a "hedging strategy" for social media as it looks to extend its reach and recruit new subscribers.

Iain Noakes, global digital acquisition journey and performance lead at The Economist. outlined this approach in a recent Warc webinar. (For more, including details of the brand's three-step strategy, read Warc's report: Reach and revenue: How The Economist is using social media.)

"We're not really sure about what is going to be the right or wrong place to be," he admitted, before adding: "We know that we have to put our content in the places where our consumers are and where our potential future subscribers are."

Where they are is on social media, and the magazine aims to generate extra reach through these channels, whilst driving engagement with its own platforms as the same time.

Noakes explained that many potential consumers have preconceived ideas about The Economist which a recent campaign had addressed through a campaign that addressed topical issues with a provocative headline that linked back to content from the magazine.

"We wanted to tap into our content," he said, "surfacing the most interesting and relevant content to an audience that hasn't yet understood us or subscribed to us."

Programmatic and the creation of a dynamic ad system enabled the magazine to target this audience in real time.

Readers clicked through to a content hub where data collected from cookies and IDs could be used to retarget potential subscribers with more content and, depending on the response, The Economist could then introduce "a higher cadence of subscription-led messaging".

The results included an effective ROI of 10:1 and Noakes described the campaign as a "storming success".

"We'll continue with the provocative content-first approach," he said, which may be extended into other channels such as video and digital out of home.

"We're not a breaking news organisation but we're trying to always be centred around the interesting trends – that we have a conversation point about, that we can explain, that we can have an opinion on," he added.

Data sourced from Warc