Audience Engagement Guest Columns
5 mins read

ClubHouse, Twitter, now Facebook? Publishers need a data strategy to capture audio value

In the last year, publishers jumped at the opportunity to engage with people on Clubhouse. It’s a great way for brand building on a new channel, not just for publishers but for their rising stars, too. Yahoo! Finance reporter Kristin Myers has a regular show called “Black Wealth Wednesdays” that attracts thousands of listeners. Mike Butcher, TechCrunch’s Editor-at-large, has more than 25,000 followers focusing on topics like blockchain and cryptocurrency. 

Just as publishers are finding their way on the platform, major changes are afoot. Clubhouse’s growth slowed in the spring, and then started surging again once the platform opened on Android in May. Twitter, launched a competitive option called Spaces, which is now widely accessible to users. Spotify just launched Spotify Greenroom after the acquisition of Locker Room in early spring, and Facebook is not far behind. Even other apps like Discord are repositioning to compete with the audio upstart. Figuring out where to focus in the audio space is tough when things change so quickly. 

This conundrum reminds me of what publishers went through with social media platforms over the past ten years, trying to determine where they could find their audience and where they could have the biggest impact. (Is it Pinterest? No, Facebook. Wait, maybe Instagram?) We have an opportunity to do things differently this time around. Rather than bum-rush the platform out of FOMO, let’s embrace Clubhouse with a more strategic plan.

Let’s Start with LTV 

As a result of publishers’ history with social media, there’s now a lot of willingness on the editorial side to experiment with new content channels, and there’s an expectation that some level of ad revenue or traffic may follow. That openness to experimentation is really encouraging to see, but there’s still an opportunity that hasn’t been fully tapped – a data-focused approach that can unite all these efforts and create more long-term value for individual audience members.

In addition to ad revenue, every external engagement platform also offers a chance to learn more about an audience (i.e. gather more data and insight.) Testing Clubhouse vs. Twitter Spaces or any of the others isn’t just about total listeners or ad revenue generated. It’s about building the “lifetime value” of an audience. A data-centric approach would help figure out the best way to tie any experiments to key audience metrics, build in options for intelligence gathering and create synergies with other activities on other channels.

One of the biggest publisher frustrations with Clubhouse is actually the lack of data, which is why publishers might not roll in with a strategy that considers metrics like total lifetime customer value (also known as LTV). Similarly the Twitter or Facebook options that will likely offer the same limited insights as the rest of their platforms. But, putting data second is a mistake we’ve seen made before. Let’s not make it again. Even without cookie data or performance metrics that can be tracked to individual listeners, there are a ton of ways that publishers can start learning about their audience, from polls to incentives, that drive people to other content and experiences where they collect zero-party data. 

Publishers Benefit Most With a Centralized Value Strategy

Every data point that is gathered contributes to a better editorial experience, a richer ad product and a greater potential to drive subscriptions or even commerce. Each new platform like Clubhouse creates a bigger footprint for the publisher to reach a bigger audience and gather more data. The more these efforts are centralized, the more power and control a publisher has over their business, and the more relevant they become to every single audience member. 

The need to create a centralized data-driven approach becomes even more important as the ad market is affected by third-party cookie loss and the role of publisher data becomes more important. Dipping a toe with Clubhouse by allowing a reporter or two to host a few chat sessions doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it is – and should come ready with product strategy. 

Publishers can get a variety of learnings from Clubhouse and other platforms like it. Audio platforms can be used for social listening, measuring not only volume of participation for key topics, but also sentiment. Clubhouse can be a source for metadata, where publishers can learn what tags and titles are most enticing for key conversations (something that can translate to email subject lines or event titles.) Speaking of “clubs,” publishers can create a Clubhouse club that goes across channels, so that it’s possible to promote conversations and identify people who are active on the platform. This way, publishers can start to see if people active on Clubhouse, or those interested in a two-way conversation have a high long-term value and deserve additional attention. 

Every new channel presence, every editorial decision, every chance to gather data is a chance to increase lifetime value. While Clubhouse is new, email is an example of a mature channel that could also benefit from this same data-first, product-centric approach. Much more measurable than Clubhouse, it’s still often pushed off to the side, with no effort to centralize data or insights. Morning Brew, a newsletter-based publisher, shows just how much there is to learn about subscribers on the channel, from understanding what content and subject lines resonate to how subscribers drive new referrals. These are the types of learnings that every publisher should centralize and apply to other parts of the customer experience, not only to calculate LTV, but to centralize more intelligence about someone and inform new initiatives with real data.

Publishers need to step back and see the big picture. Each channel, each touchpoint affects lifetime value, and needs to be centralized and assessed accordingly.

Allison Mezzafonte
Media Advisor for Sailthru

Sailthru, a CM Group brand, helps modern marketers drive higher revenue, improve customer lifetime value and reduce churn by using its powerful suite of connected capabilities. Sailthru’s high-performance email, website personalization, mobile marketing automation, and unique integrations power new customer acquisition by leveraging machine learning and first-party data to easily deliver relevant, personalized engagement across all channels. Some of the world’s most innovative publishers, including Morning Brew, Condé Nast, Business Insider and Hearst, and the world’s fastest growing ecommerce companies, including TechStyle Fashion Group, NASCAR, Everlane and MZ Wallace trust Sailthru to help them succeed. For more information, please visit