Running newspaper ads and connecting with mums have traditionally been core components of the marketing playbook. As a result of the digital revolution, however, each of these areas has undergone a transformation, aptly demonstrated by two presentations at IAB UK’s Brand Forum, held in London on August 8th 2013.

Hamish White, head of engineering platforms at News UK, discussed the development of Sun+, the new online presence of Britain’s most-popular tabloid newspaper, The Sun. White said that Sun+ will help the title break with its reputation – hitherto somewhat sleazy – and reinvent itself as a “family-friendly entertainment brand”, while also becoming a profitable newspaper for the digital age.

The three main pillars of Sun+’s strategy incorporate:

  1. Paid-for content – Sun+ is behind a £2-a-week paywall
  2. Being different from other newspapers
  3. Taking a customer-focused approach

Seven million people read The Sun every day, a large proportion of which participate in the paper’s campaigns, games and special offers. It is the largest short-haul holiday provider in the UK through the “Holidays from £9.50” campaign, runs one of the country’s top five bingo sites and has 863,000 players of its online “Dream Team Fantasy Football” game. But all this hasn’t protected the print edition, as circulation fell by almost 11% year on year in July 2013, according to measurement body ABC.

White said that newspapers, in their traditional form, cannot compete with websites when it comes to having the “newest” news. There is demand for news throughout the day, but research by The Sun found that newspaper reading peaks in the early morning, declines by the time people get to work and drops off a cliff after 2pm.

Newspaper usage throughout the day – source: IAB UK

To attract paying readers throughout the day – on both the morning and evening commute – The Sun realised it had to satisfy six “need states” that bring people to news sources. According to White, these are:

  1. Get me up to speed – short, sharp breaking news
  2. Inform me – more detailed stories
  3. Distract me – games or gossip
  4. Keep me in the loop – what’s everyone talking about?
  5. Tell me what you think – new perspectives and opinions
  6. Fire my passion – stories about personal interests

Sun+ has been designed to meet these desires by offering three core products.

The first is exclusive digital entertainment content, special news coverage and giveaways, like free albums, which users regard as worth paying for.

The second is goals, with live updates, including video, from football matches in the Barclays Premier League.

The third is perks, in the form of family discounts and holidays, which are designed to draw in loyal readers.

The Sun’s objective is to become a competitive online “news brand”. It also wants to become more profitable. By turning anonymous readers into loyal, traceable customers perpetually logged in to Sun+, it hopes to evolve as an advertising platform, too.

Roz Stoyel, UK sales director of BabyCentre, the pregnancy and parenting website, presented the organisation’s “2013 Social Mum Report”, a survey of social media use among new mothers in the UK.

BabyCentre is the world’s leading website for parents, reaching one in five new and expectant mothers globally. Mums are some of the most enthusiastic and engaged internet users in the UK: fully 88%, for example, use social media, against 77% of the general population.

Mums go online to maintain their social lives, especially with fellow parents. One of the chief activities of their connected community is the recommendation of brands: 64% of respondents to the survey had bought an item after seeing a recommendation on a parenting website, and 49% had purchased something online because a brand posted an offer on a social network.

Mums also spend more online. Per quarter, a typical women aged over 18 with children also spends £251 online, against a £222 average.

Stoyel concluded with two simple rules when marketing to social mums. One: offer bargains. Two: make mums’ lives easier by offering useful, socially-proofed products.