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The Value of Talk

Women love to talk, this is nothing new. But what is new is the changing nature of this talk, as women’s roles in society, and conversation, continue to evolve. Abby Carvosso, head of magazine sales at Bauer Media, tells us about the Value of Talk, a new piece of insight recently commissioned from Clear.

By Abby Carvosso

At Bauer Media, we have always considered our relationship with our various audiences to be a two-way conversation. The advent of social media a few years ago really escalated our ability in terms of being able to talk to these audiences in real time - connecting, sharing, discussing, and giving them a compass for navigating the most important areas of their lives.

What we wanted to do with the Value of Talk research was to independently verify what we already knew about women’s conversations and how they are influenced by media, based on our experiences through the heat, more!, Closer and Grazia brands in the print and online space. But we also wanted to dig down to gain deeper understanding of who, what, when, where and how women talk, to gain greater insight into how advertisers can join and influence conversation via our brands and our unique cross-platform service, Bauer Access.

We worked with the independent research agency Clear on two specific areas. Firstly, we wanted to be able to profile the different personalities at play in women’s conversations. Secondly, we wanted to better understand the context in which women can be influenced. By doing this, we have already been able to make further positive tweaks to our products, but equally, we are now in a position to offer brands independently verified and bespoke insight.

Already, several brands have been able to benefit from this. Within the Bauer Access framework, we are now able to provide specialist insight to our clients and partners, but also provide a content service. Through this we can help a brand define what kind of friend to be, choose the right group of friends to join and advise them on content to best satisfy their conversational needs in a way that will influence talk and ultimately, consumer choice.

For example, a partner of ours recently ran a multi-platform campaign across our network. The heat editorial team was put forward within our proposal as a specialist resource for the client, as a team totally in-tune with their audience and their conversational requirements. The team went on to write all the content for the social media element of the campaign over a three-month period, and responded personally in style and tone to all reader comments.

The Value of Talk demonstrates many opportunities for advertisers to join and influence the conversation. Three main reasons for talking have been identified – affiliation, the need for bonding and belonging; mood uplift, for entertainment and escapism; and finally, a need to be ‘in the know’, to help make decisions. We also discovered that women are now more likely to have ‘snack chats’ than long conversations – short, snappy conversations, often using technology like BlackBerry. And often these conversations never really have an end to them!

The research also reinforces the role women’s media brands with big personalities and strong opinions play in providing a springboard for advertisers to join the conversation in a significant and engaging way. The research shows two types of conversations. Firstly, there are ‘off-stage’, conversations that happen in a safe environment like home or the car, with close friends and family, allowing women to be themselves. Secondly, ‘on-stage’, conversations which are essentially a performance for an audience, such as a new social group or work. The personalities of magazine brands like heat, more!, Closer and Grazia allow us to gain VIP access to backstage conversations and influence our readers’ conversation through opinion.

For example, this insight reinforced the unique power of the Grazia brand, influencing both our reader’s decision making processes and behaviour by driving them into a retail store through magazine recommendations. The brand has established a ‘guru’ like persona on fashion. The ability for it to play the role of another woman, providing friendly support through recommendation and reassurance, highlights the strong influential power it holds. This impact is extraordinary – we recommended the Whistles pleated skirt and, within days, it was a fashion must-have creating debate and even controversy in national media.

It’s this kind of influence with our readers and our ability to provide specialist support through Bauer Access in the shape of our connected editorial teams, that really helps our clients and partners get results. We are currently working with like-minded partners of ours to refine this offering, particularly with insight like the Value of Talk. We know that Bauer Media – with its strong print, digital and radio portfolio – is really in a unique market position.