By and large, the role of Magazines are to carve up the market into as many core niches as practically possible, then to sell the garnered attention of the now segmented customers to the Advertisers.

First there may have been ‘Sports’ focused magazines, then ‘Cycling’ focused magazines, thereafter you get Mountain Biking, Road Cycling, Fixie Cycling, Competitive Cycling, Leisure Cycling publications, the list goes on, but as the topic becomes more and more specific to a niche activity, the more we learn about the personality of the reader. We can segment broad sections of the population at large into categories – and sell this information to advertisers yearning for a particular demographic or personality.

Using this model, the basic element of success is delivered at the publication level.

We can get more granular

Personalisation is the next level. Knowing the individual and how they behave, it becomes easier to predict what they will want in the future. And the new element of success is the Article. This is digital publishing 3.0, this is the hyper-focused customer targeting that advertisers have been dreaming of since year dot.

Welcome to the micro view of the world, where data is used to give you more details about your customer. In turn, publishers and advertisers can personalise the user journey. The more data you are able to apply to a customer, the more compelling (and relevant) the content you can present. Advertising at this level is tailored to the individual, and hence ROI can be improved. It’s a genuine win-win!


It’s an old statistic from, but looking at the details above, 3 of the 5 responses in the chart are relating to better ‘understanding’ the user and ‘personalisation’.

Seeing the Article as the Asset

Magazines and Newspapers need to start thinking about content differently. Each article is in fact an asset which will have a perceived value in the mind of different readers. By bundling up a set of these article ‘assets’ in an edition, your editor is curating a set of experiences that they believe their audience will enjoy. In traditional print publications and basic digital editions, this is where the information gathering ends. In Digital Publishing 3.0, this is the beginning of a data gathering journey. Which articles are being read? – for how long? – which are being shared and through what channels? If an article is shared, what is the collective response of the new readership? Are these potential new customers? These are certainly people that should be advertised to – as now we have a granular – Article Level – interest group.

This then forms the basis of a positive feedback loop between customer, editor, advertiser through which articles themselves become a conduit for improved ROI. Poor quality content will be shunned and better quality journalism will prevail. Content marketplaces are already around and there are many thousands of people willing to churn out content for a fee – the next evolution may well be that the article that is produced can be bought and sold freely in a secondary market. This future may not be too far away – Facebook Instant Articles is only a short step away.

The Here and Now

Article level platforms exist today – and you won’t be surprised to learn that these are the same names that always top the list of digital leaders. The FT, WSJ, The Economist, Bloomberg, Reuters, Trinity Mirror among others. What these publications are able to monetise from their digital products is significantly levered up by their ability to target individual behaviours. These same companies are ‘atomising’ content (i.e. making the content reactive to the different channels – and displaying the material according to how the users prefer to see it). They are sweating their media assets significantly more than had previously been possible – and they are seeing the improved ROI’s for their efforts.

To back this up, the Columbia Journalism Review ( looked at the Digital Footprint of the New York Times for just 1 week to paint the below picture. It’s quite extraordinary the amount of outreach that needs to happen to reach their target audience. It’s also quite telling that they are curating content for dissemination rather than blasting all material through all channels.


Audience Individualization: Beyond Segmentation to PersonalisationSource:

It doesn’t take an expensive team and expensive software/hardware to delivery this experience to the user either. There are tech players in this space (including us here at Reactive DPS) who can help you open up your content to a bigger digital audience, using advanced (but easy to use) cloud based platforms and a very tech-lite experience to your content production teams. We are currently offering a complimentary 1 month testing suite for you and your team to experiment with – simply follow the link below and complete the short form.