The 6 Best Digital Publishers for the Millennial Audience

By NativeAI / May 17, 2018

In a given month, digital publisher Buzzfeed reaches 83% of millennials with fun, engaging content. By studying Buzzfeed's approach, it’s easy to see the core component of their dynamic content strategy: audience insights.

Although they're diverse and constantly changing, Buzzfeed seems to know which topics and trends millennials are most interested in. Using key reader behavior data from Publisher Analytics, websites like Buzzfeed can pick up specific patterns in engagement. By studying and understanding these patterns, the editorial team at Buzzfeed curates more effective content.

The 6 Best Digital Publishers for Millennials

There are a few outstanding publications that have mastered millennial engagement. We've compiled the top six, and determined various tactics and engagement metrics they use to connect with this audience.


Vix is a digital publication that reaches 40% of all women 18-41 in the US.

The magazine specifically caters to millennial women, covering topics such as self-improvement, celebrity news, fashion, and health. While Vix has a lot of strong competition, such as PerezHilton and HelloGiggles, the publication still excels.

Vix jumped on the Beychella buzz, writing content about Beyonce's performance at the Coachella Music Festival. The content went beyond the general topic, and explored the details about the exact outfits and looks that the pop-star rocked on stage.

How did they know their audience was interested in reading about the outfits?

By understanding the interests of their audience. Monitoring audience behavior and noticing high engagement around stories on clothing and style, as well as high engagement on stories of Beyonce at Coachella, it’s pretty easy to put two-and-two together.

Publishers can find all kinds of engagement opportunities by employing advanced content analytics tools, and aligning trending topics with the specific interests of their audience.


OZY is a digital news magazine which covers a wide range of topics including politics, tech, sports, entertainment and business.

OZY boasts of a clear mission to deliver thought-provoking stories in an edgy, yet intellectual fashion - exactly the tone that resonates with millennials. OZY publishes a fantastic mix of deeply researched stories as well as videos which target unconventional topics such as gender identity, travel to places less frequented etc.

OZY uses a lot of data analytics in their audience development efforts and have uncovered great insights that help them optimize their editorial calendar and ad operations. To serve the audience interests better, OZY has also partnered with National Geographic and TED Talks to publish video properties that strike a chord with the young audience.

In a short span of less than 5 years, OZY has grown to have a following of over 40Mn across their subscribers and social channels.


Refinery29 is a lifestyle and fashion blog that reaches nearly 62% of all women between the ages of 18-34. Their success is surprising, given that the company was started by two men with no background in fashion.  However, in 2013, the company grew to be worth nearly $100 million.

How did they gain such traction with no insight into this tricky demographic?

Refinery29 has found success through partnerships and niche topics.

To develop their audience, the brand covered niche fashion companies and boutiques that often did not have the budget or resources to promote themselves. As a result, Refinery29 consistently covered the newest, up and coming fashion trends and designers.

By covering a neglected area of the fashion market, and tapping into a desire for that kind of content, Refinery29 was able to generate a loyal readership quickly. From that base of loyal fans, they have branched out into covering more topics, all aligned to the interests of their target audience.

Group 9

In digital publishing, video content is thriving. YouTube enjoys nearly 1.5 billion users, which equates to almost one-third of total internet users. So, for publishers that can create and distribute exceptional video, there is massive audience development potential.

Group 9 attracts 2.5 billion video views per month.

The company is responsible for Now This News, which covers everything from artificial intelligence to social movements. They describe Now This News as a "necessary powerful video news network specifically for the new mobile-first generation."

So how does Group 9 generate so many views?

One of the contributing factors to Group 9's success is their constant distribution of the most engaging content across the right platforms. The editorial team at Now This News use Facebook and Snapchat as primary channels of distribution.

Studying engagement by channel reveals opportunities for potentially popular topics and preferred content types within those sources.


With over 40 million unique visits per month, digital publisher Mic reaches 25% of males and females within the 21-34 age range.

As a news-and-opinion-based publisher, Mic takes trending news topics and crafts stories with a strong point of view and bold headline. For example, the recent Twitter rant by rapper Kanye West inspired a post simply titled, "Kanye West is Desperate," by Mic contributor Max Cea.

In addition to emotionally driven headlines, one of the key differentiators of Mic is the use of first-person language. Rather than the standard third-person voice most media outlets prefer, contributors at Mic are free to use "I/we" in their pieces, establishing a more personal connection between author and reader - which is an attractive tone of voice to the millennial audience.

An interesting aside: Through the use of traditional content marketing metrics, such as page views, Miceditors could assume Cea is a popular writer, due to the amount of page views his content generated. However, these metrics don't always reveal reader intent or behavior. Rather than Cea being popular, the subject matter he's assigned could be the primary driver of interest and traffic. More insightful audience data can help publishers dig into the reasons behind performance.


Finally, Buzzfeed.

Buzzfeed reaches a staggering 83% of all millennials a month. Buzzfeed, once seen as just a place to share cat gifs, has emerged as one of the strongest voices in millennial-targetted news.

What's the secret behind Buzzfeed's incredible success?

Buzzfeed runs more like a technology company than a media company, relies heavily on data to inform content and distribution strategies. They track the performance of content across a myriad sites and social platforms, as well as monitoring real-time engagement metrics such as click-through-rates and shares. All this data is kept in one central repository, and the entire editorial team is proficient at turning that data into actionable content strategies.

The Secret Weapon of The Best Digital Publishers

The one common characteristic of the top digital publishers is a deep, intimate understanding of their audience. Publishers that leverage data-driven audience insights to inform content and distribution strategies consistently outperform other digital publications. By letting data inform the preferences and behavior of readers, editorial teams make strategic choices that drive engagement and enable audience development.

For publishers who have yet to adopt a data-mindset, providing access to deep audience insights should be a top priority over the next year. NativeAI understands content and provides publishers with a real-time dashboard and our unique, one-of-a-kind Engagement Quality Score. In our Micro Course, we demonstrate how publishers can use our real-time audience insights and innovative engagement metric to inform more effective, data-driven publishing decisions. How to Extract Actionable Publishing Insights From Deep Audience Data

Written by NativeAI / May 17, 2018