SMX London 2015 > Making Friends with Your Audience

Simon Penson 5 years ago

While the world may currently be obsessed with ‘data’ and ‘content’ at Zazzle we concentrate on audience and it is this precise process we focused on during our presentation at SMX London 2015.

Below you can catch the slides and transcript from MD Simon Penson’s presentation at the event.

The Slides

The Transcript

“ Hello and good afternoon. Thank you for coming along today to this track. My job over the next 20 minutes is to ensure that choice has been the right one for you by walking through a process we use at Zazzle Media to ensure our focus is on audience, and specifically the RIGHT audience.

Before we do that however first a little background. You see before entering the dark world of digital I spent a decade working with some of the brightest minds in print media. A privileged opportunity to learn from a hundred years of specialist print journalism and also run this brand. Max Power! How many here bought this back in the day? Yep, a phenomenon and one that prospered because it understood its audience.

Apparently I did so well there they moved me here, into golf. Not entirely sure that was a true promotion but it taught me more important lessons about audience – you can never be too close to them or have enough data about who they are or what they do.

How was it possible to transfer so easily between the two? Simply because the art of content is not about specialist understanding necessarily but about understanding audience and delivering exactly what they want. Make them smarter consumers.

You see, we didn’t focus on design or even writing. Instead we focused on the audience we wanted to create and educate. Who was it that we wanted to make smarter?

That’s right, we focused on people.

People focus

And that brought us, in the case of Max Power, to Craig. This guy was burnt into our retinas. His info was written on meeting room walls, office coasters, you name it he was there.

He was the main persona for the brand and we lived and breathed him in everything we did.

But while the info may seem obvious and simple it was not easy getting here.

We spent dozens of hours running up and down the country running focus groups to understand not just who was reading our product but what part it played in their lives.

We also did a lot of ethnography, a study of those same people in more natural surroundings to see how they interacted with our magazine and how they talked about it. This was often done with us sat behind one-way glass.

Those ‘old’ ways of conducting research still hold massive value as nothing can beat sitting down with your audience but because of the challenges with gathering enough evidence and data we were, in truth, always guessing.

Social data

But not any more. Now we have a much more connected world and search and social data gives us a real view on the quantitative piece.

The challenge, of course, with such an embarrassment of riches knows where to start.

There is no better data pot than that held by Facebook. And we’ve yet to see the full extent of it’s power

Graph search is the tangible interface to that treasure trove and it’s improving rapidly.

We now use it as part of the initial data dive that will ultimately inform our persona creation process. Let’s look at that in a bit of detail now.

Until very recently Graph search was pretty pointless but it’s now been plugged in and as a result you can really get into the data.

We’ve created a free cheat sheet to help you navigate and you can download it here.

But let’s look at a couple of example in real time now so you can see how it works.

For this run through we’ve chosen a client of ours in the bingo space and you can start to examine the audience in greater detail. Here we look at other pages liked by those that like the brand and as you can see you can start to get an understanding of the people you are talking to.

If we then dive a little deeper still we can start to look at interests – and there are certainly some interesting ones there. We’ll come back to that!

And you can then apply some competitive research by looking at shared interests across larger data sets that include competitors.

And mine into specific interests to understand specifically which movies, games, drinks etc. they may like.

This is super interesting, right?

It doesn’t stop there. If you look at this slide I’d be really worried if I ran Tripadvisor or any other review-based site. While their reviews are based on the general public view Facebook is able to slice and dice to give you the views of anyone from your friends or family to those with similar interests, or ages to you.

You can here how that can apply to almost anything. Here we have places visited by people who like the brand I like.


All this data gets me very excited. But there’s a problem. While it’s great qualitative data it fails to tell us just how interested they are in each thing.

We need to quantify this thing.

I now want to share with you a little hack we use to do just that.

Quantifying the opportunity

There is no fancy tool I’m afraid, just a bit of simple math and to help we’ve built this simple calculator, which you can use via this link.

Start by jumping onto Facebook’s adcentre and click ‘create ad’. You’ll then be presented with this screen. Click on any of these but we’ll use the Page Likes option here.

Once in the console scroll down until you get to the Audience section.

Start by selecting the geography you wish to look at. You can choose everywhere but for this study we have chosen the UK. On the right hand side you’ll then be able to see how many people fit the selection. For instance, here we can see that there are 36,000,000 people in the UK on Facebook.

The next step is to add in the audience interest. This can be anything from an interest to a brand, so let’s start with Mecca. The right-hand column now tells us that there are now 96,000 in the UK that like Mecca Bingo.

The next step is to start to understand a little more about those interests we saw earlier using Graph Search.

Remember pole dancing. Who couldn’t!

We know that our audience likes pole dancing so we now need to know how much!

To do that we simply ad pole dancing to our Mecca audience and it gives us the combined audience of 126,000 people.

OK so far? Now comes the maths part – and this is where the calculator can come in useful.

This slide gives us the formula that will give us a better understanding of just how much our audience likes pole dancing.

Taking the numbers we have just talked through we create a sum that looks a little like this and it tells us that 6.25% of the Mecca UK audience likes pole dancing.

That sounds like a decent percentage but to truly understand what that means we need to look at the average person also.

To do that we work through the same process by first getting the number for the UK Facebook audience and the pole dancing audience separately.

And we can then use this simple formula to work out what percentage of the average Facebook audience likes pole dancing.

0.1%. The Mecca audience just got interesting!

The idea is you rinse and repeat this process for multiple interests so you can then chart them against each other like this.

Charting interests

This is where we really start to understand our audience. The pink column represents the Mecca audience and the blue the average Facebook audience and we can clearly see where the over indexing is.

Those are the interests you want to really concentrate on, as part of your content plan as you know there is a high propensity to engage.

Interestingly as another side note our initial graph search research suggested that both Keith Lemon and Alfie Moon were liked by our audience, but here we can clearly see that Keith Lemon is much more popular.

This kind of insight is great for content of course, giving us great ideas for interviews but also for the wider marketing plan. Who should be their brand ambassador, for instance.

And we can look at geography too. Here, for instance we might be thinking of running a competition to win restaurant vouchers but rather than just generically do the same thing for everyone in the UK why not look to see if there is a North/South, or state divide. This would suggest there is as we would be better offering McDonalds or Nandos vouchers to those in Manchester and Frankie and Benny chain coupons to those in London.

It goes on forever. Very exciting data set and please have a go you and make use of our calculator.

Armed with this level of insight you can then do lots of exciting things further down your process and I could talk all day about how this plays out.

For instance, once you know what your audience is really into it becomes much easier to find them elsewhere on the web. Here we can use Google Display Planner, for instance, to add in an over-indexing interest set and discover the sites those people may frequent. Powerful for any digital PR or amplification campaign.

We can also use tools like Answer the Public to understand what questions they are asking and who else influences them using a tool like Buzzsumo.

So, we’re excited about what this data gives us but the challenge is organising it in a way that it becomes truly useful.


How do we do that? The answer lies in personas and in this case specific personas for content.

The persona creation process allows us to group interests together and create living breathing ‘Craig’ of your own.

I haven’t got time today to walk through the detailed process of creating these but there is plenty of useful reading material online from the offline world to help with this.

For those working in digital however, one great tip is to make sure you include digital capability in that mix as you are creating. This is a matrix created to break that group down and you should classify each persona into one of these so you avoid assumed knowledge issues.

Your job now is to do the fun bit. Bringing those ‘people’ to life and the classic rule is not to have too many. 2-3 is right to ensure you are focused.

What you should end up with is something that looks like this. These are super simplified for ease of remembering them but behind it will be a much more in-depth Persona document – and there is a free template download coming up to help you with that.

The tough bit of persona work is to get all of your team on the same page. Sharing that understanding can be REALLY hard but there is a way around that.

To make that much easier at Max Power we aligned Craig to a famous person. That way we could easily ensure that tonality, attitude and character of the words we wrote were the same, irrespective of who was typing.

For instance, your whole organisation would understand the difference between David Cameron and Ed Millband and how each has a very different tonality!

And that is where we wrap up today. Thank you for listening and as a reminder you can get all the tools we spoke about right here via this link.

I’ll shortly be tweeting a link to the deck and transcript also so please keep an eye on @simonpenson for that.

Thank you for listening."

Stay in touch with the Zazzle Media family

Sign up for our monthly newsletter and follow us on social media for the latest news.

Our website uses cookies for various purposes and to enhance the site’s functionality. This helps us understand how you use and interact with the website.

Settings Accept Cookies