Cracking The Guy Code

Men are tricky. Just because many love sports, music, entertainment, cars (all popular content categories) doesn't mean they are an easy target to engage. In fact, it's the opposite. Not too long ago, buying content around sporting events attracted mass male audiences. Today, men are spending far less time watching TV and more time with video games, the web, and their mobile devices.  

The 95 million-plus men who are online are a finicky bunch. You've got the tech geeks, music lovers, heavy video consumers, social connecters, and the browser guys who like to bounce around from destination to destination. There’s a ton of fragmentation due to the proliferation of the long tail and the ever-so-increasing content choices presented across online, mobile, and social devices. 

Research from eMarketer tells us that while the male market is very lucrative for brands, they need to work extra hard to draw their influence. 

We have built our business on producing custom content for advertisers. By creating stand-alone advertorials called “allied emails,” we’ve been able to apply our editorial voice to our sponsors’ messages. So rather than show an ad for watching TV on an airline, we’d tailor the message to our reader and point out that he could catch the game on his flight. We’ve learned to speak to our guys in a way they want to be spoken to – like advice from their buddy or older brother.

Over time, our advertising model has evolved a great deal. Today we operate across three platforms. But throughout this evolution, we’ve maintained our core approach to reaching our guys. We make sure that we’re creating unique campaigns that let brands access our audience in really meaningful ways, but simultaneously, bring our consumers greater value in various forms that cater to their lifestyle.

For example, a popular fast-food chain was re-launching a cult-followed sandwich on their menu – and instead of just simply saying, “go get one,” we had our in-house designer create a custom t-shirt for the sandwich, which sold out on within 24 hours. We launched a sweepstakes and had hundreds of entries for the chance to win one of the shirts. This was the quintessential consumer/advertiser win-win, in that not only did our guys love the shirt, but for that fast-food chain, the shirt was an ad in itself and they now have 500 brand ambassadors walking around in them.

Our goal has always been to entertain and benefit the reader as much as possible, while still respecting the integrity of the brand. This can obviously be a fine line to walk, but if you can find an honest place where the product and the reader's life intersect, and bring some humor into that, it’ll be a guaranteed win-win.

As a marketer trying to reach men, what is the lesson for you here? Well, it's all about the personal relevance you display in your creative when you are targeting guys. The more genuine and unobtrusive your campaign is, the more effective it will be and the more likely you’ll be able to crack the guy code.

Tags: men
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