Food Network Makes Cooking More Fun with Data and Analytics

Food Network Welcome to our Kitchen

Image source: foodnetwork.com/kitchen.

by Ben Gaines

posted on 07-20-2020

Many of us know them on a first name basis: Giada … Ina … Rachael … Alton … Bobby! Over the years, we have welcomed professional chefs, home cooks and culinary experts into our living rooms. Our favorite personalities beamed through the TV set a couple times each week, teaching us the proper way to roast a chicken, or the difference between a chop and a julienne cut.

FoodNetwork.com provides a place online for fans to explore the culinary and network content they love, as well as get inspiration for dinners, a weekend party or to plan a holiday meal from over 80,000 recipes.

Over the years, Food Network has developed engaging content for brand followers across social networks, apps, and emerging platforms, even bringing in cord-cutters who love cooking. In 2019, the Food Network Kitchen app launched and became the main digital hub for recipes, cooking classes, live tutorials with Food Network chefs, grocery delivery and more.

Image source: foodnetwork.com.

The March surge

A longtime user of Adobe Analytics, the Food Network content, marketing, product, and analytics teams use data to understand the overall user journey across touchpoints. They tap insights to increase retention and engagement, driving interest in areas like premium offerings. With a digital audience of 40 million monthly visitors, signals are analyzed to identify trends and give credence to gut instinct. And while the team has built a level of sophistication in predictive capabilities, the last few months were hard to see coming …

COVID-19 meant people were staying in and eating at home more, creating a surge in online traffic. It drove interest in home cooking unlike ever before. In mid-March, Food Network began to see a spike in its digital properties. It was one indication that people were supplementing news consumption with comfort and guidance from their favorite lifestyle brands, and the traffic continued to grow – hitting another record a month later on Easter.

This generated a fire hose of data, and the team went to work. They featured and created new content that helped people take advantage of pantry staples. Data allowed them to quantify the size of each trend and identify nuances in audience segments. Along with industry research, an uptick around side dishes, for example, could indicate that people were rounding out takeout meals. The team could drill into the expectations of different individuals and cater cross-platform experiences accordingly. Visitors to a Food Network property likely will not realize that they are in an A/B test, but they receive its benefits through a more personalized experience in the future.

Image source: foodnetwork.com.

With Analysis Workspace in Adobe Analytics, the team can easily visualize how people are discovering and engaging with the content itself. AI capabilities like anomaly detection provide a real-time pulse on which types of content receive unexpected upticks. These signals have been leveraged to acquire customers in a new way for the brand, through a direct-to-consumer subscription product called Food Network Kitchen.

The app aims to provide home cooks with all the help and instruction they need to make life in the kitchen easier. Live classes and step-by-step tutorials are integrated with features like grocery delivery (for ingredients). Being able to analyze user journeys has helped uncover new ways in which users in the free tier might be more likely to adopt the service, as well as tactics for keeping subscribers engaged long-term. These insights can drive marketing investment decisions, as well as UX changes in the app itself.

As Lindsey Weaver, vice president of research and analytics at Discovery Inc. shared with us: “At Food Network, we have the good fortune of audiences that stay with us for years. Our focus on delivering great content to the customer where and when they need it, has helped us maintain these relationships. We have always wanted to meet the user where they are, whether it is on a website, a social media platform, or a cross-device app like Food Network Kitchen, and all of these strategies are driven by data. We try to understand usage patterns that keep audiences coming back, as well as where people hit roadblocks.”

“Our teams have relied on Adobe Analytics to give us a better view into the overall customer journey and help us make sense of unrelated, unstructured data,” says Lindsey. “It helps us drive efficacy with new initiatives like Food Network Kitchen, while reacting quickly to spikes driven by events like COVID-19. In our organization, data has become a universal driver behind strategy, creativity, and innovation across numerous teams and businesses, all in a way to nurture valuable relationships with our audiences.”

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Topics: Analytics, Customer Stories, Digital Transformation

Products: Adobe Analytics