Billed as being "For women who are too busy to browse," new U.K. digital platform The Pool is already achieving 60% click-through rates on its daily email, and has named Clinique, Microsoft and Marks & Spencer as its launch partners.
Since launching April 23, The Pool has adapted the broadcast model for online, creating a programming schedule by posting a set number of articles at fixed times in the day so as not to overwhelm its audience with content.
Eight articles are published in a 24-hour time period, and each post is labeled with the amount of time it takes to read. You can even search the site based on "How Long Have You Got?" to find stories that match your available time – or stick a story in the scrapbook to read later.
Every post is tailored to the time of day it is published. For example, the 30-second 7 a.m. "Today I'm Channeling" is a quick, inspirational quote to start the day, while "Today in 3" at 9 a.m. raises newsworthy talking points for the day ahead. At lunchtime there might be shopping suggestions, and "What to Eat Tonight" drops at 4 p.m., just when thoughts are turning to the evening ahead.
The Pool was founded by Lauren Laverne, a writer and broadcaster who hosts a daily show on BBC Radio, and Sam Baker, former editor of Cosmopolitan and Red at Hearst Magazines. Between them they have brought in some of the country's top writers to create a mix of news, views, culture, fashion and food, with the emphasis on conversation rather than consumerism.
The platform – which also runs videos and podcasts -- grew out of two years of research, talking to busy women, mostly 30-plus, about the way they consume media: what they love, what they have time for, and what they wish they had more time for. Half said they were overwhelmed by media noise online, and 74% felt that half the content they consume isn't even relevant to them.
Jo Morrell, chief commercial officer of The Pool, said, "We are respectful of our audience's time. It's their most precious commodity. The user is at the heart of the project and it's all about inserting ourselves into a part of the day when she's got five minutes. We're producing a very specific and finite amount of quality content."
Advertisers are described as "brand partners," and the idea is that they sign up for a year at a time, paying a monthly fee. Ms. Morrell said, "We are building meaningful relationships with brands in the same way we do with our audience. [A 12 month contract] means we can plan ahead and have clear goals, and over the course of a year we can work around launches and seasonal campaigns."
Microsoft, Clinique, and Marks & Spencer Food have already signed up as brand partners. Ms. Morrell said, "Together they showcase the range of activity we can do," and claimed that the phone has not stopped ringing since launch. "Brands are looking for new ways to reach the audience, in the same way that the audience is looking for new ways to consume content," she said.
Pippa Glucklich, co-CEO of Starcom MediaVest Group U.K., said, "Targeting parameters such as time of day have a huge effect on how receptive audiences are to receiving brand communication. The marriage of relevant, timely content and this unique targeting capability could be of interest to many buyers in the market."
Clinique is sponsoring the 7 a.m. drop, at the time when most women are getting ready for work, and forthcoming brand collaboration ideas are set to include native content, shoppable videos, longer articles and events. They will not, however, include any display advertising: "That doesn't work for anybody, certainly not the consumer," Ms. Morrell insisted.
Steve Ackerman, managing director of content agency Something Else, said, "The Pool has been designed with the audience in mind. It's very smart – everyone is time pressured, so it plays to audience behavior. And it is building a brand affinity that people can relate to. "