We’ve recently had the pleasure of collaborating with Joe.co.uk on a segmentation project geared toward better understanding men. Joe launched in 2015 and already is one of the biggest premium male-focused publishers in the UK. With an array of mottos like “for men, not lads” and “the voice of British men,” the website focuses on giving men something ‘better than what they’ve been used to over the past few years of online publishing.’ We wanted to use research to demonstrate that men are more complex than we give them credit for, and that current advertising aimed at men is missing the point.

The project entailed two different parts: a deep qualitative survey and a detailed audience segmentation.

While the survey is not the focus of this blog post, its results were startling and confirmed our initial hypothesis:

  • Only 17% of men felt that UK media represented them
  • Over 73% of men did not identify with the word ‘lad’

Perhaps more interestingly, modern men revealed that they felt significant pressure in their everyday life:

  • 40% admitted to have suffered from depression
  • 71% felt too much was expected of them
  • 68% wished they had better ways to deal with stress

The survey results provided a lot of detail about how men felt, but what were they interested in? What is segmentation and how can it be leveraged to reach an unparalleled depth of audience understanding?


Click on the gif for a slower animation.

Segmentation is divided into three phases. First, an audience and a normative are selected. For this project the analysis was made up of approximately 38,000 Twitter accounts of @Joe.co.uk followers, and a UK normative of 41,000 UK Twitter accounts selected at random.

The second step is to collect and categorize every handle the audience and normative follows. We then group these handles by “interest,” using a technique called clustering, which clusters handles that are commonly associated. An interest is typically comprised of 50-100 clustered handles, and—while this is fundamentally a mathematical process—results are later interpreted by human analysts who identify the underlying themes and patterns.

For example, we may see that “Interest 1” is comprised of a strong followership correlation amongst David Beckham, Gary Lineker and Rio Ferdinand. We may wish to call that interest “ex-England Footballers,” but if the next most active handle belongs to Cristiano Ronaldo, we have to revise our title to “famous football players.” This scenario is likely to occur more than once and is why analysts are brought in to avoid inaccurate categorization.

Finally, groups of handles are bundled into segments. This is done through a technique called agglomerative clustering that allows us to see the proximity between interests. Like clustering by interest, this process is a combination of technology and mathematics, layered with human insight. As interests are refined and renamed, segments begin to take shape.


Segmentation of the UK male audience, based on research by W2O Group and JOE Media
Segmentation of the UK male audience, based on research by W2O Group and JOE Media

We identified eight major segments within the Joe set, each with their own idiosyncrasies.

While we don’t surface the majority of the data on this blog post, there are three elements to think about when looking at the data below.

  1. The segments themselves, which represent a unique audience through a combination of interests
  2. The Interest Reach, which represents the percentage of people in the Joe audience who followed a particular interest
  3. The Interest Index, which conveys the rarity of an interest by showing (in the form of a multiplier) how many times more likely the Joe audience was to follow this interest than was the UK normative

Let’s look at a few of the segments from our case study in more depth:

Example of Starstuck segment from W2O Group & JOE Media analysis.
Example of Starstuck segment from W2O Group & JOE Media analysis. Click for a slower/larger animation.

Starstruck is one of our two most mainstream segments. The leading interest here is Hollywood Actors, which is comprised of predominantly male celebrities from Hollywood. Household names like Simon Pegg, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson and Tom Hanks are accompanied by more recent additions, like Aaron Paul and Seth MacFarlane. This audience is also very interested in UK Comedians and Shopping, both of which are also popular with the UK normative. An interesting aspect of the latter is the lack of differentiation between online brands (e.g. ASOS and Amazon) and traditional street brands (e.g. M&S and Ted Baker).

Londonites are all about metropolis lifestyle.

Londonites epitomize big metropolis living. They represent both young men living in London (and other large urban areas) and those striving to do so. Londonites are well versed in current affairs and follow a bipartisan list of news outlets and politicians. They have no discernible political stance at this level, with near-equal levels of followership for Jeremy Corbyn, Nigel Farage or even figures like Edward Snowden. They also enjoy the lighter side of current affairs, with Armando Iannucci and Charlie Brooker reoccurring in their News & Politics interest.

Londonites also follow interests related to both London venues and restaurants. Their interest include the Glastonbury music festival, Time-Out recommendations, restaurant reviews from Nigella Lawson, and weekend public transit updates. Londonites are all about making the most of what the city has to offer.

I Bet You is all about competition and gamification

I Bet You is a segment about competition in all its forms. While a large part of the Joe audience is focused on football, this segment is deeply interested a wide range of organized competition. They’re very interested in Rugby, Horse Racing, Darts, Snooker, Cycling and the Olympics. Beyond watching competition, I Bet You enjoys betting on sports outcomes; a rare interest when compared to the UK normative data.

Gamers have multiple interests outside gaming including UFC and television shows such as Walking Dead and Game of Thrones

The Gamers segment is primarily driven by Video Game Companies and unique UK Streamers and YouTube celebrities. While these interests are common across all gamers, the specific streamers found in the interest were unique, featuring the likes of the KSI and MrSyndicate. Additionally, this segment boasts the second rarest interest within the whole research, UFC fighting, which it is 5.4 times more likely to follow than the UK average. The whole segment is rounded off with an affinity for US scifi and fantasy shows, led by interests comprising the casts of The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones.

As you can see, each segment provides a unique glimpse into the mind of an audience. Some represent mainstream appetites, which often align with those in the UK normative data. Other segments embody niche interests, which diverge from the mainstream and represent unique behaviors. Together, the segments provide a more nuanced understanding of Joe’s diverse audience and an unique window into the various affinities vying for their attention.