While the editor’s gut still plays a massive role, data has fundamentally changed the way Brodee Myers-Cooke and her team at Taste create content.
The magazine industry has experienced a significant amount of change in recent years but Brodee Myers-Cooke, editor-in-chief of Taste.com.au, says the biggest change she has seen is data.
“There isn’t a single piece of content that we now create on Taste that hasn’t been based on an insight or a trend backed by data,” she says.
And that data is being sourced from right across News Corp’s platforms in addition to the Taste channels. The information being gathered is allowing Myers-Cooke and her team to take stock of attitudes about food and trends in the space.
Trends include the rise of plant-based eating as well as a focus on retro foods such as custard in addition to what Myers-Cooke calls “casualization”.
She says: “Cutlery and even plates could become redundant. The dream way to eat is a gigantic platter of food in the middle of the table where everybody just digs in.”
But while data is helping to identify these trends, the editor’s gut still comes in handy.
“Gut instinct does have to play a part. Some of it is test and learn,” says Myers-Cooke. “In some regards, the editor has become more important. We’re not going to see AI developing our magazines anytime soon but data is really exciting because it’s another tool to feed our gut instinct.”
This use of data is working side by side with Taste’s website which relaunched in February 2017. “It was cluttered and time for a refresh. We knew we had to evolve it into the next decade. So we did the hard work thinking we might take a hit on our page views or unique audience. But we were 34% up in page views after a month and up 16% in visits,” says Myers-Cooke.
The new site launch came off the back of the previous merging of the print and digital teams which has had a major impact on both of the brand’s outputs.
Online, the content verticals of baking, healthy, quick & easy and entertaining were introduced and almost 18 months on, Myers-Cooke says she’s still coming to grips with the full power of the revamped platform.
Yet online isn’t the only space the brand is innovating with a Taste podcast in the works as well as the Taste Alexa ‘skill’. The ‘skill’ allows users to source recipes and receive step-by-step cooking instructions. “It’s a fabulous voice-activated hands-free tool for anybody to use in the kitchen. That’s exciting territory for us,” says Myers-Cooke.
Next on the agenda is a focus on expanding the brand’s video offering even further as Myers-Cooke says staying on top of trends and technology is paramount for Taste. She says: “We are generating millions of video views a month for our audience and our clients. We’re always running at the next innovation or initiative. It’s what we live and breathe at Taste.”
There’s no doubt this attitude has helped Taste to pick up a number of accolades in recent months. In November, the title cleaned up at the Australian Magazine Awards taking home Magazine Brand of the Year, Food Magazine Brand of the Year and Digital Media Brand of the Year. Myers-Cooke was also recognised winning Editor of the Year. The awards followed News Corp internal awards that saw Taste pick up Magazine of the Year. “That meant a lot to us because of the incredible quality of magazines here. There was really stiff competition,” says Myers-Cooke.
For Myers-Cooke who started in garden magazines before moving to food with beginner knowledge, Taste is home. “I sometimes look around at the landscape and think, ‘What other magazine or brand could I work for?’ You never get bored at Taste,” she says. “We’ve got lots of super smart, passionate pros who love what we do and we all genuinely look forward to coming to work every day.”
But at the end of the day, the audience remains at the heart of Taste. Myers-Cooke says: “A brand like Taste has so much feedback from Aussie cooks. It all comes down to service and value.”