The Debrief outlines its success 8 months after launch

by: Lucinda Southern on 25 November 2014

Speaking to 12ahead, Hattie Brett and Lauren Holleyoake outline the title’s success

Publishing titles in a constantly connected world can still thrive, according to The Debrief, the tricks for success are the same for all competitive digital brands responding to disruptive audience behaviour

In February this year The Debrief launched after months of research, a digital-only title looking to cater for the constantly-connected, influential, urban female, from Bauer Media. Eight months later having earned a few awards (including the PPA Digital Award for Innovation of the Year) and rolling out a wider out-of-home marketing campaign, The Debrief is proving that it is more than "the Buzzfeed for girls”.

“That was always a funny comparison to us,” Hattie Brett, editor, tells 12ahead, “because Buzzfeed is the Buzzfeed for girls. We’re similar in that we’re both digital brands and that we’re both concerned with the share-ability of content.”

October figures show The Debrief is attracting over half a million monthly uniques and 1.6 million pages views. According to Brett and Lauren Holleyoake, the title's publisher, both of whom worked on Bauer title Grazia, the numbers have exceeded targets but that isn’t enough, the engagement metrics are important; page dwell times and share-ability of content.

Test and learn

“As a digital brand if you’re not constantly looking at how you can change then you will never thrive,” says Holleyoake. “Our reader is au fait with Facebook updating every three weeks, that’s what she expects now from her digital brands.”

Positioned as a digital brand, iteration and evaluation features heavily in the content produced (“our journalists are obsessed with analytics,” says Holleyoke,) and distribution, shown through The Debrief’s recent marketing campaign featuring content-led dynamic creative reflecting the area of the digital screen, as well as what’s doing well on the site, (see image).

Audience insight

“Our marketing conveys a deep understanding of our audience,” Brett explains that recent research has proven 80% of The Debrief’s readers are in their 20s, with 71% describing the title as ‘unique’ with a strong tone of voice. “That’s something we heard loud and clear,” she says, “they wanted us to be probing, analytical and provocative where necessary.”

The content centres around five pillars, People, Life, Getting Ready, Things To Do and Sex, with a 24/7 editorial strategy staffed by a team in London and New York, underpinned by social and bolstered by commercial partnerships. 

Native works

Such a defined and clear outlook on the target audience has contributed to more successful and long-term commercial partnerships for the brand too. Bacardi has invested in native advertising formats with The Debrief, and has found that the articles drive 13% referral traffic. “It’s unusual for editorial to sit so closely with commercial,” says Holleyoake “but for me it makes perfect sense. It works for both parties.”

An O2-funded article is in The Debrief’s top ten most read articles of all time, Brett supports this with their own research that 64% are interested in ad-funded content as long as it is relevant.

Announced 24th November, another of Bauer’s brands, Kiss, which serves a similar demographic, is joining The Debrief in working with Viber, the instant messenger app, delivering exclusive content from the two brands in a group format. With 78% of The Debrief’s readership committed to sharing its content, innovations in distribution on emerging channels must be routed to audience insight, something that The Debrief has done well to secure.