Branded Content Helps Discovery Reach Women

Women want to treat themselves to small indulgences, and to Discovery Communications, that means shopping, eating out, getting mani-pedis—and watching their female-skewing networks TLC and Investigation Discovery.

And to indulge advertisers, Discovery has been creating branded content that makes commercial breaks on those networks a more entertaining place for women.

Beth Rockwood, senior VP, market research, ad sales at Discovery, says data from the Futures Company showed that about 90% of women say that in the next 12 months they want to do something to treat themselves.

Those treats also include shopping for clothes, buying cosmetics and spa treatments.

“Women say that shopping is valuable ‘me’ time. It’s a way that people make themselves feel good. It’s a similar feeling watching your favorite show,” Rockwood says. “For us, it plays interestingly into our business because watching TV is also an everyday indulgence. It’s something our networks score really well on.”

Discovery turned that insight into a pitch to advertisers. “We had a presentation supported with hard data on ID that was all about ‘me’ time. And what we found on ID is that women like to watch it alone, they don’t turn the channel,” says Sharon O’Sullivan, executive VP national ad sales.

“With TLC, the viewers are very involved in social engagement and the indulgence there is you get to chat and it’s more of a social experience watching TLC,” O’Sullivan says.

Discovery is trying to get that feeling in its commercial breaks, as well as its programming. The efforts go well beyond the typical vignette or other podbuster techniques designed to keep viewers from skipping out on spots.

“We have done some really incredible work with our networks on pulling people into the break and tying our clients into that content,” O’Sullivan says. “We have TLC and ID delivering on cobranded content with advertisers that takes their messaging and their goals into account, yet also fits beautifully into our environment for our consumers so they look at them as entertainment content and seamless with the content they’re watching.”

And a good number of women are watching. Discovery points to Nielsen figures showing that so far this year, the combination of TLC and ID is delivering more women 25-54 than any individual cable network in primetime and total-day. (The company has also rebranded two smaller networks that appeal to women, Discovery Family and Discovery Life.)

To help advertisers connect with those viewers, Discovery’s in-house ad agency (called “the agency”) creates content that fits the network and communicates a brand’s message. Discovery created holiday content for Hershey that ran on TLC and for Kay Jewelers that ran on ID.

The Hershey content showed how during the “TLC season,” families could make decorations using the client’s foil-wrapped pieces of chocolate. It ended by wishing viewers a “merry kissmas.”

The Kay content embraced the crime-solving spirit of ID by helping viewers solve the dilemma of finding the right gift.

Another example appeared on ID showing women learning to enjoy Sonic’s Slush beverages while watching TV, calling the colorful drinks “the perfect sipper for indulging in Investigation Discovery.”

“They really did an amazing job of blending their message and our environment. It has the humor of a lot of ID’s promo spots,” O’Sullivan says.

More recently, for Universal Pictures’ film The Boy Next Door, stars Jennifer Lopez and Ryan Guzman appeared in segments talking about the movie. It turns out Lopez is one of the network’s fans, who call themselves ID Addicts, according to O’Sullivan, so she agreed to host a night of content on ID. More importantly, the film had a strong opening and the client was pleased, she says.

Documenting those results is Discovery’s Curiosity Lab, an in-house research unit that looks to optimize campaigns to reach the right viewers—in this case, women.

“That’s the challenge we all have. How do you create an environment that is incredibly sticky and effective for your clients? Just running ads is great but clients are tasked to deliver higher ROI and they’re going to be coming back to the places where they know they can super serve their message and we have a great environment for that,” O’Sullivan says.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.