It’s crowded out there these days for digital media brands. It seems like every other day a new digital platform launches – whether focused on food, pop culture, sports, politics or some variation of the two. And all of these brands are clamoring for the attention of the same coveted millennial audience.
At Minute Media, the parent brand of 90min*, the fastest growing global football (read: soccer) media platform, we have learned a lot about how to get, and keep, millennials’ attention. In the last 18 months, we’ve managed to grow our global unique visitors to 47 million a month from 7.5 million—and 70% of these visitors are between 18 to 24 years old.
The content on our site–which competes with the likes of ESPN.com and Bleacher Report –is written by fans, for fans. We take a social-first approach to publishing, collecting articles from soccer influencers and other hard-core fans with large social-media followings. Our content is also slightly edgy: we look at the stories behind the game and off the field from a different perspective, beyond just the straight scores and game reports. Short, snackable content that millennial sport fans can’t get enough of.
Below are three pieces of advice for other publishers on how to expand your business, break through the clutter and disrupt the digital media marketplace.
1. Lead with technology, but don’t let it run your business
This axiom holds true no matter what type of audience you’re going after. Technology is at the heart of what we do – but it remains silent, powering our content engine from behind the scenes.
For our users, contributors and publishing partners, the technology is what gives them a robust platform on which they can communicate and share their passion for their favorite sports, teams and players. Contributors are able to post stories and other content extremely quickly, for instance, such as a video of a single, amazing soccer goal. Our content-management system also enables sophisticated push notifications so fans can get updates about their teams in near- real time. (And with 85% of our users coming through mobile, notifications are a big distribution engine for us.) But all this technology sits silently in the background, creating automation and scalability so we can focus on differentiation and engagement.
2. Creating community
You cannot get through to millennials through old broadcast and writing talent. They want to hear from their own peers and constituents and become part of a community. They are also uniquely influenced by social media: One recent study of millennials found that user-generated content was considered 50% more trustworthy than other types of media, and 35% more memorable. When asked how much they trust the product information they get from various sources, millennials gave the highest marks to “conversations with friends”, “peer reviews” and social networking. Those categories beat out print newspapers, radio and TV.
More broadly, sports, which is our focus, uniquely builds community and a sense of belonging. By understanding your audience—whether it’s sports fans or knitters or bookworms–your users become your best brand ambassadors and social influencers. Reach them in the ways they want to be reached – whether on social or mobile – and speak to them in their own language and with an authentic voice.
3. Be global and local at the same time
Minute Media features local voices across global scale. We operate in more than ten languages so that fans can get content in their own language, in authentic voices. Audiences want to be spoken to in their native tongue, and having the local voice–but with global scale–really enables us to connect with our users in a way other platforms cannot. Our Spanish-language content is never translated – it is written by Spanish-speaking contributors and editors so nothing gets lost in translation and the authentic voices come through.
Today, we’re announcing that we’re continuing our global expansion by moving into the United States. We have launched a new brand, 12Up, to bring our same social-first approach to fans of U.S. sports like basketball, baseball and American football. Already at launch we are publishing more than 100 original pieces of content a day and we hope to quickly ramp up to the size of 90min, which produces 15,000 pieces of content each month. While the US is a competitive sports market with some well-established players, we believe that our pop-culture infused sports coverage and our fan first editorial experience is set to scale incredibly well.
We are excited for what’s in store for our family of brands and while becoming the largest digital sports publisher in the world is not a small or trivial vision, we hope we’re moving in that direction.
Asaf Peled is the founder and CEO of Minute Media
*For a full list of all Battery investments and exits, please click here.