Over the last five years, the Internet has been transformed from a universe focused on places – sites and destinations – to an ecosystem structured around people.  What we read, and watch, and how we interact with media has been utterly transformed by the socialization of the Web and services like Facebook and Twitter.  Increasingly, we’re aligning around communities that feel personal and authentic, around sources of information whom we trust and with whom we feel a connection – bloggers, Tweeters, fans and critics – the voices that constitute the Independent Web.

This seismic shift, combined with rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets, has meant that, no matter where we are, we’re spending more of our time online and together than ever before.  With the Web’s ever-growing role in our day-to-day routines, brands are assessing and implementing strategies for engaging in the conversation-centric world of the Social Web, eager for us to follow them, Tweet them, Like them and generally spend more time with them than we ever have before. But this is a new world, and the rules of engagement have changed profoundly – simply broadcasting messages though display ads is no longer enough to hold our attention.

We believe brands need to be doing more than simply asking to be Liked; they must start investing in influential communities online, where they can begin joining conversations and adding value among interested, dedicated and already receptive audiences.

Burst Media has been working with influential communities of dedicated bloggers for over 15 years.  Given that brands big and small are keen to join conversations with bloggers and their readers, we recently built upon our strong relationships and expertise in this area and introduced four new community-based blog channels to the web: MumIQ, Ella, Ignition and Giant Realm.  MumIQ is geared towards 25-54-year-old women with children at home; Ignition delivers a base of 25-54 year-old male sports fans; Ella is designed with fashionable young women aged 18-34-year-old in mind, and the Giant Realm channel covers Millennial men who are passionate about gaming, entertainment and lifestyle content.

As a result, the relationships that we initiate between brands and bloggers online are both highly targeted and highly effective.  Both partners are assured that their content complements each other, is mutually relevant and that the joint audience will not just be receptive, but genuinely inquisitive and engaged.

The four new communities are made up of thousands of heroes of the independent web and, according to statistics from comScore (July 2011), already reach a total of 15.8 million unique web users in the UK.  This puts their reach at 37% of the UK’s internet users, which equates to over 750 million page views per month.  This means that, for the first time, brands in the UK can use these online communities to reach audience sizes that were previously only available through TV advertising.  But, on the web, audiences of this size can be much more effectively targeted.

As a champion of the Independent Web, we understand what kind of messages and messaging formats get through to the right people, in the right places, at the right time.  If brands don’t start investing their time into influential and engaged communities where people are equally investing their time, they risk being passed by in today’s fast-paced world of the conversation-centric web – instead of being heralded as valuable contributors by the members of their key influencer communities.


Ian Woolley

Ian Woolley


Ian Woolley is the Managing Director of Burst Media in the UK and Europe.