Smithsonian Media

How a research manager became the voice of Smithsonian Media’s audience, helping drive revenue and deliver unique insight to ad partners

14% year-over-year growth in travel advertising revenue

Provides insight to sales and ad partners in 1 to 2 days

$500,000+ in research cost savings in 1 year


Smithsonian Media is comprised of its flagship publication Smithsonian magazine, Air & Space magazine, Smithsonian Books, and the Smithsonian Media Digital Network.

Fast Facts


Media & Entertainment



Customer Experience

Insights professionals

Use case:

Marketing effectiveness

Business Outcome:

Drive revenue growth

De-risk decisions

Business Challenge

Linda Lawrence was under pressure to deliver increasingly elusive insight on Smithsonian Media’s audiences. A research manager in a team of one, tasked with helping win the business of ad agencies and the brands they represent, she required new types of insight. Getting them quickly and cost-effectively was critical.

Syndicated research was expensive and rarely customized to match Smithsonian Media and its partners’ brands. A deeper understanding of how Smithsonian’s audiences engaged with content and brand was essential for management to make faster and more informed decisions.


Linda owned the success of the insight community investment, a daunting and overwhelming experience at first. But with their insight community, The Curiosity Council, full of devoted members from the Smithsonian audience, it opened up a whole new world of audience understanding that Linda couldn't get anywhere else.

In less than a year, Smithsonian Media has showcased original findings from the community in almost half of all sales pitches, demonstrating unique information that advertisers can't get elsewhere. The community also enhanced sales materials far beyond what syndicated audience research could provide, in many cases delivering custom research in as little as 24 hours.

The company’s consumer marketing team also leverages the community. In one example, management was concerned about a potentially polarizing cover design. Over 2,000 community members validated these concerns by the next morning, and the speed of insight allowed the design team to revise the cover before the print deadline, avoiding potential loss of subscription revenue.

With the Curiosity Council, Linda has become a valuable and powerful voice of the audience within the organization, helping future-proof her role and the business itself.

14% year-over-year growth in travel advertising revenue

Provides insight to sales and ad partners in 1 to 2 days

$500,000+ in research cost savings in 1 year

Our community helps us develop more compelling pitches to prospective clients, supports category development, and is invaluable for consumer marketing.

-Amy Wilkins, Chief Revenue Officer, Smithsonian Media

The community is our secret weapon for ad sales. Our team quickly latched onto Vision Critical as a way we could offer a different perspective on our audience that no one else could provide.

-Linda Lawrence, Research Manager, Smithsonian Media

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