How WMX Connects Gives Brands a User-Friendly Way to Understand Fans

By Warner Music Group InSites Archives
Cover image for  article: How WMX Connects Gives Brands a User-Friendly Way to Understand Fans

Up until recently, brands had very limited access to meaningful insights for fans of Warner Music Group's global roster. They might know fairly general information -- that Lizzo fans tend to love empowerment, or that Ed Sheeran enthusiasts warm to sensitive songs. But a new tool called WMX Connects, developed by WMX at Warner Music Group, changes all of that, because it culls minute details about an individual artist's millions of fans. That allows marketers to make a larger impact when reaching target audiences.

WMX Connects went online right before the new year when Warner Music Group launched its WMX division, which connects artists with fans and amplifies brands in creative, immersive and engaging ways. It curates WMG's portfolio of over 7,000 artists, unifying its media offerings to advertisers, which attract 249 million unique visitors a month.

Previously there was "an abundance of information on audience segments with no real curation, and no real context behind who these people are, what they like, and what they're truly engaging with," says Paul Josephsen, WMX Media & Creative Content's Global Chief Strategy Officer.

"From our perspective, music is a force that drives culture," he adds, noting that a key tenet of WMX Connects is to help brands stay a step ahead of culture. "The only way to do that is to understand the music and entertainment that's driving culture and ultimately what turns micro-culture into mass culture by knowing what audiences crave."

WMX Connects culls information from its media sites, including the youth culture and entertainment destination UPROXX, the live music site Songkick, and the Hip-Hop authority brand, HipHopDX, as well as e-commerce sites and strategic marketing channels where audiences consume their artists' content. The data is collected through embedded consent management tools and best practices that have been instituted to ensure data integrity. The insights and audience segments are then presented in a highly user-friendly dashboard.

Built with WMX data partner Audigent, WMX Connects makes it easy to understand particular artist fan communities, Josephsen says. Through WMX Connects, it can assess "what fans are engaging with, what their affinities are relative to the rest of the Warner Music Group landscape and what their interests and propensity to engage with brands and products and categories are." WMX Connects can then build target segments to reach across the broader web and brands, and agencies can work directly with the brand partner teams at WMX to access this data.

In developing WMX Connects, the goal was "to curate in a way that the industry isn't currently curating," Josephson continues. "We'll provide first- and second-party data to the ad industry, where the cookie-less future is happening and third-party is going away. We will be a surefire outlet for broad-scope, entertainment-driven data curation around all of the content types that matter and for the global music that really drives culture forward."

The actual data collection has been happening for a couple of years in order to create mass scale, he says. "The interface is brand new, the curation is brand new, and we are constantly iterating on it. We're always working with our business development colleagues to enhance relationships with strategic platforms and partners and to enhance our data sets for the most complete picture of our fan communities." For example, results may show that one artist's fans have a high propensity to like men's fashion or are more likely to be in the market for cars. "We're using large swathes of segments to curate true digital engagement versus assumed behaviors that the digital media ecosystem often provides to brands," he explains.

Josephsen says that one of the future goals of WMX Connects is to improve audience experiences through inclusivity in data. Traditionally, when consumers provided information about themselves to various services, they were asked to select whether they are male or female, as just one example. "That's a 1950s way to look at people," he asserts. "Everyone today has the opportunity to proudly identify as who [they] actually are, but that information doesn't always get translated into what we know about people for digital media targeting -- and it needs to.

"We're actively looking for data and technology partners from across the industry to join us on this mission, because we believe being a step ahead of culture in every way means building media experiences for fans based on who fans actually are, not the criteria that was written at the early days of advertising," he concludes.

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