Discovery is “radically changing the way it advertises” by switching to social media marketing to boost Discovery+ subscriber numbers, according to UK and Nordics boss James Gibbons.
Gibbons invested in the space to transform Discovery’s marketing capabilities and help it reach a younger cohort of consumers. He says, “The whole of digital marketing and performance is new to the business and it’s a skill and a resource that we’ve added to our business, and we’ve grown that capability since launch.
“There is a constant optimization of how to reach these younger audiences.”
Along with Facebook and Instagram, Discovery relies on its presence on TikTok. “We’ve never used TikTok before, but you can’t reach this cohort without being active in this space,” he says.
@Discovery Coach Snoop and Coach Martha agree on…almost everything #PuppyBowl #gameday @snoopdogg @Martha Stewart ♬ original sound – Discovery
Discovery entered the crowded SVOD market in January 2021 with Discovery+ envisaged as an add-on product to its portfolio of linear channels. As a result of the move, he says he already attracts an audience 20 years younger than his outgoing audience.
With that comes a whole new set of marketing challenges. “When it comes to marketing and communications for Discovery+, we need to take a tailored approach,” says Gibbons.
Marketing for Discovery’s streamer is primarily digital to bring consumers directly into the service with a click or two.
Convert sports fans into subscribers
Discovery uses its sports offering as a major marketing tool for Discovery+, leveraging its impressive list of event rights to convert sports fans into subscribers.
Two back to back Olympic Games and a much-talked-about Australian Open proved to be an “incredible driver of awareness” for the service, Gibbons says. “The Olympics are a fantastic marketing event because there’s something for the whole family,” he adds, while commenting that Discovery was thrilled with the performance at the Australian Open.
Gibbons explains that to convert a sports fan into a subscriber, Discovery uses viewer data to find patterns between specific sports and genres from its entertainment offering. For example, during the Tokyo Games, Discovery found that equestrian fans liked a certain type of entertainment show, so Discovery could pop those titles up to appeal to other equestrian audiences.
In short, it pushes fans of specific events deeper into the Service+, with pop-up ads pushing shows they’re likely to like. The sport could become even more of a subscriber pilot as Discovery strikes a deal with BT Sports to establish a joint venture.
Introduction of “ad-lite”
From March 16, Discovery+ in the UK and Ireland will introduce an ‘ad-lite’ option to its service priced at £3.99/€4.99 per month. The decision was made to replicate Discovery US’ advertising lighting system after UK-based research found that 75% of Discovery+ users would be willing to see advertisements at a lower price.
“This ad area is for SVOD subscribers who are willing to pay for quality video,” says Gibbons. He points to the challenge of SVOD stacking, saying it’s not possible for consumers to have all the services they want. “If you’re the number three or four service on consumers’ lists, it’s worth offering a more affordable option to complete in that space,” adds Gibbons.
Discovery UK and Ireland’s move into advertising light follows NBC-owned streamer pivot peacock to push its ad-supported tier after research found that 80% of consumers prefer a more affordable ad-supported option.