Innovation Outliers: Successful New Ways to
Grow Your Audience
Amy Milner
Director, Acquisitions
October 2, 2014
The Economist was founded in 1843 to advocate free trade
and freedom to the individual
And for 171 years, its mission
has remained the same.
The “extreme centre” is The Economist’s historical position
The Economist has supported many different viewpoints on the
political spectrum, but at its core it considers itself the enemy of
privilege, pomposity and predictability.
Yet, we have always suffered from our somewhat stodgy
Focus Group Emcee:
“Hi, Economist non-reader, what images come to mind when you think of
The Economist?
Our job has been to change this perception, and in doing so convince the consumer
to purchase a…..
The challenge: Engaging prospects!
 Traditional channels such as Direct Mail, Paid Search,, Online Display and Insert Cards are certainly
relied upon as our “bread and butter”. Those who know our
brand will always use these channels to purchase
 However, the market has evolved, and as such – so have we.
 So, how are we engaging the unengaged and finding new
Engaging Prospects through… Video
 “Decision Makers” spots where industry leaders such as Eric Schmidt
(Executive Chairman of Google), and Jack Ma (Chairman and CEO,
Alibaba Group) explain what they get out of reading The Economist.
Eric Schmidt
Jack Ma
 “Man on the street” spots where random people are asked questions
such as “Who is Merkel” and “What is Fracking?” These videos were
created to explain how The Economist can make you smart in a fun
and engaging way.
Who is Merkel?
What is Fracking?
 Ran on both premium publisher sites and newsletters. All video ad
units included companion banner ads to communicate a subscription
marketing message and CTA.
 Programmatic Buying, Targeted to Age, and contextual targeting
(interest groups)
Engaging Prospects through… Social Community - reddit
 Established in 2005, reddit is an online social news community
in which members can submit, and vote up-or-down user
generated content – boasting an active and engaged audience
who interact on communal forums
 reddit enjoys a reputation of authenticity, candor, relevance &
 6% of all adult internet users use reddit*
 reddit has monetized their sizeable audience with both
advertising and selling reddit Gold, a site specific
membership/subscription where among other benefits, users
get badges (gold) to award other users
This is reddit
The Economist on reddit
 Home page banner ads
 AMA with Tom Easton
 reddit Secret Santa
 reddit Gold
 “What Would You Make” crowdsourcing
Home Page banner ads
AMA with Tom Easton
Tom Easton’s Jan 15th Ask Me Anything was scheduled to
correspond with the timing of a second debt ceiling crisis –
shockingly, Congress passed a budget and averted crisis.
Though the AMA was less topical than intended, the caliber of
audience questions and Tom Easton’s response yielded:
* 338 points
* 513 "upvotes“, 175 "downvotes"
* 77% of the user audience "liking" it
* 196 total comments
* Reached #4 on AMA's top discussions of the day
"Thank you for one of the most engaging AMA's I have read in a long
time."- redditor, Fatmountain
AMA with Tom Easton
reddit Secret Santa
 Used reddit as a retail platform – timed with reddit’s Secret
Santa, where reddit community members sign up to send gifts
to other community members
reddit Gold
 Gold partners offer discounts to reddit community members
with a premium (Gold) membership
 Placed banners on reddit offering them reddit Gold. Those who
signed up were sent a postcard. The records of those who
signed up were then able to be used for upsell
reddit Gold – Postcard Creative – sent to 5,000 people
In order to entice the recipient to keep the piece,
we created a Calendar for 2014 with quirky notable dates.
“What Would You Make” crowdsourcing
Closing the loop: fulfilling requests
redditors who contributed ideas
were private messaged to
receive a ‘thanks’ from The
In most cases, this was a
branded coffee mug, in some
cases it was the item they
Reddit response to engagement efforts: the good
 The ‘What would you make’ effort resulted in robust wins –engagement,
brand evangelism, and quirky ideas on new Economist products.
 In total 356 public comments including:
“This is exactly how reddit ads should work; to generate interesting
comments & ideas while still getting brand exposure.” redditor,
 Our account manager congratulated us on “winning reddit.”
 This effort was featured in Business Insider, and included in reddit’s ad sales
pitch deck.
View Business Insider article:
Engaging Prospects through… Agnostic Approach
 When we look toward evolving, we are always looking to
understand our consumer behavior.
 Last fiscal, we rolled out to agnostic choice for all online order
 Tested implementation across DM order forms this year which
(much to our surprise!) tripled response rate, and resulted in an
overall shift of product take up rate.
• Proven “more choice” did not detract response
 Continuously monitoring trends in reading behavior
Pre-Agnostic Order Page
Agnostic Order Page
US Direct Mail Forms
Pre–Agnostic DM Form
New Agnostic Control
3x response increase!
In summary…
 To evolve and grow your audience, it’s important to constantly
stay fresh an not be afraid of failure. Exposing your brand to a
new audience could be a big win!
 Always take calculated risks - 90% of them will most likely not
work, but it’s part of the process and should always lead to
learning and coming up with ideas for further development and
 Test, Test, Test!

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