This article is cross-posted from Adrants where it was originally posted by Steven Hall. Guest author, Josh Jaffe, is the VP of Business Development here at VigLink.
Conde Nast’s recent announcement to merge Lucky Magazine with BeachMint, an online retailer, follows the relaunch of Domino Magazine, another Conde property, as an e-commerce store. The New York media giant isn’t the only one blurring the line between content and commerce. Meredith, Thrillist and Gawker are other prominent publishers investing considerable resources in commerce.
Despite these initiatives, commerce-based revenue remains a largely untapped growth opportunity for digital media companies. Display, native and video are the primary drivers of online publishing revenue. Yet, commerce holds the potential to generate a revenue boost of at least 10% with limited investment.
Fashion bloggers have been at the forefront of the move to incorporate commerce as a meaningful line of revenue. These writers leverage their influence to drive loyal readers from their site to buy a product from an online retailer they have a commission agreement with. They’ve recently expanded to capture purchase intent on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and even YouTube.
Via its acquisition of ShopNation in 2012, Meredith is experimenting with on-site purchase as a means of driving commerce-based revenue. Men’s style publisher, Thrillist, earns most of its revenue from its JackThreads unit, the online retailer it purchased in 2010. Most publishers, though, don’t need to initiate their move into commerce by selling products direct to consumers. Gawker committed to commerce accounting for 10% of their total revenue in 2012 and achieved it last year without selling goods directly from its sites.
To start reaping commerce-based revenue, content must be created with purchase in mind. This is a natural fit for vertically oriented publishers. A technology site promotes deals at an online retailer. An outdoors publisher creates a product guide for camping or skiing. Broader media sites covering news or entertainment can also capture reader purchase intent by featuring travel deals, digital goods or style guides. Stories can be created by existing writers, non-editorial staff or a content agency trained to link story product references to online retailers.
Creating content with the intention of sending readers off-site to an online retailer may seem antithetical to product gurus charged with increasing site engagement. But, creating content that readers find useful and in tune with the brands and products they love actually boosts user loyalty and return visits.
The benefits are clear. The new found revenue is completely additive to the current revenue mix of display, native and video. It is less subject to economic downturns as advertisers are more willing to maintain budgets when spend is tied directly to revenue. And commerce-based revenue generates a predictable return on investment because revenue levers up in direct relation to the amount of content created and the audience pushed to that content.
While publishers keep mobile, social, programmatic and native top of mind, adding commerce as a core editorial and monetization strategy can yield an entirely new, meaningful line of revenue in 2015.
Written by Josh Jaffe, VP of Business Development at VigLink
Tags: AdRants, advertisers, best pratice, digital media, ecommerce, editorial, Merchants, Monetization, publishers, tech Posted in Content-Driven Commerce, Publisher Best Practices
Indulgy is one of our coveted publishers. Their mission is to be the creator of your perfect world. They do that through a pinboard site that presents users with the best possible images through a, “special algorithm that combines human subjectivity and technology certainty”. This is what sets them apart from their main competitor, Pinterest. Founder, Eugene Strokin, was kind enough to lend us his time and provide us with a first-hand account of the ins and outs of Indulgy.
How did you get into creating a pinboard site?
I was inspired to start the site three years ago when my wife was submitting pictures to a pinboard styled site called foodgawker.com. I noticed the massive amounts of traffic driven by this site and thought to myself, why just food? I went on to build a pinboard site where people could post and share pictures of anything they were passionate about and visualize their perfect world.
What is your mission, specifically what are you trying to accomplish?
I am trying to build a site where people can come and be visually inspired. This isn’t a site where people come to interact with one another; in fact people don’t have to talk to each other at all. People come here to look at beautiful pictures, and in that respect our site falls somewhere between Pinterest and Tumblr. We constantly work to find the best content and present it to our users.
What kind of connection do you have with your user and what’s some of the feedback you receive?
Although we don’t often communicate with our users directly on our site, we do receive a lot of feedback from them. We have two types of users, those who stop by the site consistently and those who come and go. Both of these groups provide us with different types of feedback and we aim to give them the best experience when they visit Indulgy.
What are you looking forward to in the future, how will your focus shift?
We are currently working hard to monetize our site, one we do that is through VigLink. Another option we are considering is the implementation of a shopping cart directly to our site. This is appealing to us because it gives us more control when the user stays on our site to make a purchase. Although we haven’t gotten that far, we know we will stay true to our native advertising roots. Since our primarily focus is aesthetics and quality content, we would never compromise that by having intrusive ads on our site.
What value do you deliver your customer by showcasing certain brands?
We only collaborate with the most elite brands that are visually pleasing to our audience. Again, since everything is visual on our site we don’t want to compromise that by working with brands that don’t uphold our standard. Once we have identified which brands are good partners for us we offer to showcase them on our site if they are willing to give us a commission increase. However, like I stated earlier we wouldn’t promote anything that isn’t relevant to our audience.
How does the shift to mobile consumption affect your strategy?
Over half of our traffic is mobile. That being said, we recognize the importance of optimizing our site for mobile and have done so accordingly. Looking to the future we would like to design an app for our site but that takes resources that we haven’t quite yet acquired.
Written by Hanna Fritzinger
Tags: Fashion, Indulgy, photos, pictures, pinboard, publisher showcase, publishers, tech, VigLink Posted in News and Updates, Publisher Showcase
Monday marked the launch of the Google News Publisher Center, a new feature of Google News that allows publishers to dictate how Google indexes their site. Most top publishers spend hours generating engaging and relevant content, however that’s not enough to drive traffic to their site. Until Monday, publishers could only hope Google would predict the layout of their site correctly and pick up on any recent formatting changes.
For example, ELLE one of our coveted publishers, categorizes their site by fashion, beauty, accessories, culture, etc. With this new feature ELLE can label the different segments of their site from the Publisher Center, therefore enabling Google to efficiently categorize the content. If ELLE decides to delete the “beauty” category from their site or add a “lifestyle” category, they would subsequently go to the Publisher Center and ensure those changes are made. This will result in more accurate Google News results, which is beneficial for ELLE, Google, and readers.
The Google News Publisher Center can be simply explained as a tool that gives publishers the power to edit Google’s records, thus putting power and responsibility into the hands of publishers. It is now up to them to attentively keep information in their Publisher Center portal up to date, simultaneously relieving pressure from Google Support.
What do you think about the latest advance in Google News?
Written by Hanna Fritzinger
Tags: best practice, elle, Google, publishers, tech, VigLink Posted in News and Updates, Publisher Best Practices, Publisher Spotlight
Back in April Bradley Taylor wrote a blog post for us highlighting four ways to promote your personal or professional site using Pinterest. We took his valuable advice and have officially joined the Pinterest community! VigLink Pinterest will showcase some of the unique personalities of our team you wouldn’t normally get the chance to see. We are following some of the useful tips Bradley suggested…
Pinterest already has a special sector of their site called Pinterest for Business which is dedicated solely to professional sites and certainly worth checking out. The tagline for this service is, “get discovered by millions of people looking for things to plan, buy and do”. As of right now the best way you can do this is by following the four tips highlighted above, but not for long! They have just announced that they are gearing up to launch “Promoted Pins” which will expand business’ reach via Pinterest. Although this new technology has yet to be implemented, you can fill out a form on their website for priority access. Pinterest is already a wildly powerful tool if used well (people who are referred to a site from Pinterest spend 70% more), and it’s influence is only going to continue to grow with time and new advances. Is your company on Pinterest yet?
Tags: pin, pinterest, publishers, tech, VigLink Posted in News and Updates, Pinterest, Publisher Roundtable
Google announced Hummingbird at the end of September and we felt it was time to review what this actually means for you (publishers) and quash any fears you may have about its effects. The good news – the changes are mostly positive for content creators (woop!). Jenny Stowemarket writes for www.WhoIsHostingThis.com and works in online marketing and is familiar with the recent updates in Google. She has kindly agreed to share her insights on why this change is great for bloggers.
The last two large-scale algorithm updates Google released—Panda and Penguin—continue to cause ripples throughout the Internet, and for the most part, not in the most positive ways. A lot of sites are still trying to recover traffic and revenue lost as a result of those updates’ initial releases. So when news broke about Google’s latest big update, Hummingbird, there was understandably a moment of panic among digital marketers and businesses that rely on search for their traffic and revenue.
Not to worry. Hummingbird is actually here to help you.
Just as Panda barreled through, swinging its clawed paws through thousands of marginal sites, knocking them down in the SERPs, Hummingbird flits by, alighting ever so gently on sites that are moving, as Google is, toward more natural-sounding content. You may have to make a few adjustments to how you’re currently creating content, but if you embrace it, Hummingbird can be great for your blog.
Whether you’ve written your content yourself, or outsourced to a professional copywriter, it’s likely much of your content strategy hinged on keyword research. If Google Analytics told you someone landed on your site by searching for the phrase “buy red widgets online,” you turned around and made sure that phrase popped up in strategic areas of your site. Maybe you were even counting the number of times it appeared in your content, trying to hit some magical, mythical keyword density number.
Now you can throw that strategy out—to a degree. Of course keywords are still important. But they’re not everything. Rather than writing to keywords and search engines, you now have the freedom to truly write for people. You no longer have to contort your content to accommodate awkward search phrases. As long as you keep your content relevant, make sure it naturally contains your primary keywords (and if you’re just writing about your products, of course it will), and ensure your content is high quality, Hummingbird will smile upon your site.
In the same vein as writing naturally, Google Hummingbird means search intent is more important than ever. That’s a term that gets thrown around quite a bit, but think about what it really means for a moment. If someone searches for “best digital camera,” what do they mean by “best”? Highest quality? Lowest price? Most popular brand name? Search intent is all about context.
Keeping potential intent in mind will allow you to create content across a broader spectrum. It opens up possibilities for richer content that will speak to every intent for vague search terms like “best.” As of now, you should be bursting with ideas for new content that drills down into smaller niches and more specific meanings. And with every piece of content you create with a specific intent in mind, you cater to the person who searched with that intent. Serving up to people exactly what they’re looking for is a sure way to gain readers and customers, not to mention keep them coming back.
At first, this may not sound like a benefit to your blog. Why? Because quality takes time and costs money. But think for a moment about how Hummingbird and Panda are now working in tandem, one seeking out poor quality content, the other looking for more natural, organically created content. The blogs with the highest quality content are naturally going to rise to the top.
Not only is quality content going to help you in the SERPs, it’s going to go further to landing new customers, and securing conversions. Get into your customers’ heads for a moment. It’s easy. You’re a consumer too, right? What impresses you? If you go online to buy something, and the website selling it is full of errors, and is poorly designed or structured, and difficult to navigate, what does that make you think about the product they’re selling? Is it just as poorly designed? So while quality content is going to help you in search, it’s also going to help you convert casual visitors into customers. Quality breeds authority and trust. Never underestimate its power of quality free hosting.
Make no mistake, Google Hummingbird doesn’t mean you can just sit back, relax, and let the search engine do all the work for you. You must still work to gain or maintain a competitive edge in your vertical. However, there will undoubtedly be those out there who don’t heed Hummingbird’s move toward more natural search language, and who, either out of habit or just plain stubbornness, will stick to what they know—basing content on keywords.
Those who become or remain stagnant will begin to fall further and further behind, both in the SERPs and in sales. By not adjusting how they create content to accommodate semantic search and cater to search intent, a lot of marketers and businesses are going to deny themselves a lot of organic search traffic—and a lot of customers. This is true of any part of any business venture, really. If you don’t continue to evolve and keep up with industry changes, you will soon become obsolete, surpassed by those who make the effort to stay abreast of new developments. Continue to create high-quality, natural-sounding content, and you’re on your way to the front of the line—or the top of the SERPs.
One of the most important things to remember, though, no matter what algorithm update comes out next is not to put all your conversion eggs in one search engine basket. If you’re relying on Google (or any search engine) for all your traffic and all your sales, you’re missing out as well as setting yourself up for failure. Expand your marketing efforts beyond the search engines to see an even greater return. But no matter what marketing method you use, the ultimate goal is to bring people to your site, so make sure it’s a site worth your visitors’ time.
Tags: Bloggers, Google, Google Hummingbird, Hummingbird, publishers, top tips Posted in Guest Post, Relevant Reading
London has always been a leader in fashion but it is about to become the leader in progressive shopping thanks to LN-CC ( Late Night Chameleon Cafe). Who have created a shop that ‘acts as an evolving platform of curated ideas’ and covers all the latest must haves in men’s and women’s fashion as well as music and books.
The ‘store’, if it really can be reduced to such a mundane label, also has four individual product rooms, a library, a record store, a gallery and even offers a club space for after hour enjoyment equipped with a vintage soundsystem.
It is a London fashion dream and although you are only able to be visited the store by appointment the whole LN-CC experience can be accessed through their online site. And, even better news for all of you who want to follow the must-have-fashion collections of LN -CC they have just increased their commission for VigLink users.
Tags: Fashion, publishers Posted in Fashion & Beauty, Insider, Merchant Happenings