How to Get Men to Click -- Tips From Playboy and Mandatory Pros Live

By Stephen M Zorio

Men like manly things, right? Well ... yes ... sort of. However, if you use that approach as your editorial north star, you're going to lose your audience (men and women alike).

We recently chatted about the best ways to reach men online with Cory Jones, SVP Digital for Playboy and Paul Ulane, Lead Editor for See what they had to say about male programming myths, how women factor in and the kind of content that works best on social. Oh, and they shared two words they hope advertisers never use again:

Q: What is one myth about male audiences that you are tired of?

Men don't just like "men" things. Men like LOLCats just as much (if not more) than women. If you try to create content that fits some sort of antiquated vision of what men like, you will sound hollow. -- Cory Jones

Totally agree. If you create a piece of content that you would share with any of your friends, male or female, it will resonate with your target audience. As long as you create good content, it will find your demographic. -- Paul Ulane

To add to that, most of the "male" sites out there are only 65% male. And that number is coming down. With social becoming a dominant traffic driver, you have to create content that both men and women feel comfortable sharing. -- Cory Jones

Q: So is it enough to just program for men, or do you have to be conscious of finding a middle ground?

I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but you have to create content that women feel comfortable sharing, too, if you want to reach men. Facebook is a great example. You need to drive your overall reach to do well in their algorithm to reach more of your audience. -- Cory Jones

It's almost more important to target each of your specific social audiences instead of just men. One thing that works on Facebook doesn't necessarily work on Twitter or Instagram. Once you figure out what resonates the most on every social channel, your content will be shared by the entire audience, which will in turn increase the number of men seeing that content. -- Paul Ulane

Q: In the social realm, which topics engage the most consistently and which engage the least consistently?

It's less about topics than it is about the hook or the angle. For men's sites, you will get much more engagement if you give them a why or how instead of just the what. While girl content does well, there's a ceiling on it because users are less inclined to share something that might be considered NSFW. 

The content that does the best is the content that gives people a reason to click. By far the content that I have seen do the best (in terms of driving traffic) is someone getting their comeuppance. People on social media love seeing the villain get his/her due. Social media loves to get on its high horse. Videos usually do the best with photos and graphics close behind. -- Cory Jones

One topic that continues to resonate with our audience is relationship humor. Not only do the men in our audience relate to the male perspective but I think women enjoy seeing what's going through men's minds. Being relatable is more important than being funny. If people feel like you're touched on something they've experienced, they will definitely pass it along to their friends. -- Paul Ulane

Q: We all know 18-34 is the magic number, so how hard is it to reach that specific audience? What advantages or disadvantages does that present?

I always felt like that age bracket was an advertising construct. Most men don't totally change what they find funny or interesting when they hit 35. I think it goes back to what we said before about creating great content and the demographic will follow. At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself "do I find this funny?" If you're a guy over 20 and under 60, there's a decent chance if your answer is yes then you're headed in the right direction. Steer clear of enema listicles and you should be good. -- Cory Jones

Agreed. And it's relatively easy to reach a younger demo online. The only disadvantage that bracket presents is as you grow your audience, more people from other demos (older, female, etc) start creeping in, which may skew your stats a little. But if that's the case, it just means your audience is growing too big to keep confined to one group, which should make everybody happy. -- Paul Ulane

Q: When looking at ad campaigns targeting men, what have advertisers gotten better at and what lessons are they failing to heed?

Some of them are getting better, others still have a ways to go. The young male online can smell BS a mile away. The best ad campaigns are the ones that trust the content. The worst ones try to shoehorn themselves into every nook and cranny of a custom content piece. It's my view that if you're around great, sharable content that falls under the umbrella of the demo you're trying to hit, you'll be successful more often than not. -- Cory Jones

If we all learn one thing today, it's that the phrase "man cave" needs to be retired forever. -- Paul Ulane

Paul and I have both been in meetings where we have heard the word "mancations." -- Cory Jones

One event you can be sure a lot of men will be watching is the 2014 World Cup. Bookmark this page to follow the conversation happening about -- and around -- the 2014 World Cup.


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