Publisher Showcase: Possessionista

Possessionista is a blog people visit to find the fashion from their favorite shows. Have you ever watched Scandal or the Bachelor and wished you knew were you could find the clothing they wear? Dana Weiss did, and started a blog about around that premise in 2009. Find out how she turned her blog into a full-time job below… 

Starting a blog

Dana was working mom, but after giving birth to her second child she decided to become a stay at home mom. With newly acquired spare-time, she taught herself to blog in 2009 as a slide project to track the clothing she saw on TV. Soon after, people started emailing her that they too were searching for the same items, and Possessionista was born!

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Her mission

The goal of Possessionista is to help people find the clothes they like from the shows they love.

The relationship with her readers & their feedback

Dana has a lot of interaction with her audience. They communicate mostly over Twitter and email but also through the comments section of the blog. She finds the most effective mode of communication to be Twitter.

Her favorite part of Possessionista

Possessionista allows Dana to do her favorite things: shop, watch TV, and write. She’s always been a writer and getting the opportunity to write about TV and clothing is truly Dana living her passion.

Looking to the future

Every few years Dana does a redesign and continues to streamline the blog based on the feedback she receives from her readers. Because she wants to write about the shows her readers are watching, their feedback is absolutely imperative.

Commerce and Possessionista’s monetization strategy

Dana’s policy has always been editorial first; in fact, she didn’t start monetizing the site until after it was already well established. She writes about the items she sees on shows, if she wants to feature an item that doesn’t have an affiliated link, that won’t stop her from posting it. That being said, monetization gives her flexibility that she wouldn’t otherwise have and allows her to contribute to her family.

Dana describes Possessionista as a shopping blog, not a fashion blog. In her experience, people come to the site with the intention of making a purchase. She discloses her use of affiliates and sponsors on both her site and twitter, but emphasizes that her monetization strategy doesn’t impact the overall goal of the site which is to provide readers with the best experience possible.

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Showcasing certain brands & brand collaboration

Dana works very closely with different show’s costume designers in order to track the clothing she spots in shows. She also works directly with brands, such as BCBG, to create coupon codes for showcased items. If they aren’t part of the current collection, she’ll go as far as organizing re-releases.

Another collaboration Dana initiated was with Shopbop with whom Possessionista created four style guides to correlate with different shows. By doing all of this work, she provides her reader with the luxury of simply visiting her blog to find these coveted items.

Written by Hanna Fritzinger

 

This Week In Tech: NewCo Comes to SF

With NewCo 2014 just days away we want to be sure you’re not missing out on the chance to visit some of the SF tech scene’s most innovative offices… for free! NewCo presents attendees with the opportunity to enter host companies’ spaces to network with employees and witness unique presentations by industry thought leaders. This conference sets itself apart as it seeks to provide audiences with the ability to choose which offices they attend and allows host companies to cater their talk specifically to those in attendance. Unlike other conferences, NewCo also keeps the numbers of attendees to a minimum prompting interactive talks that spur conversation.

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We are excited to join of the ranks of LinkedIn, Airbnb, Twitter and Yahoo who are also participating in this year’s NewCo. Oliver Roup will be presenting on the native advertising landscape, specifically why it’s effectiveness continues to grow during an age when the “old marketing supply chain” is becoming irrelevant. In order for publishers to be successful, their primary focus must be on creating quality content that remains uninterrupted by intrusive ads, something Oliver is very familiar with. Additionally, he will talk to audiences about the growing influence of mobile and how it will impact future advertising efforts.

If you’ve yet to sign up for NewCo, it’s not too late! However, space is limited and as you’ll see on the NewCo site, our event is almost full. Don’t miss out on this wonderful opportunity to mingle and learn at our SOMA offices this Friday at 1:30. We look forward to seeing you!

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 Written by Hanna Fritzinger

Publisher Showcase: Indulgy

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.

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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

Employee Spotlight: Tiffany Koptish

Here at VigLink we’re constantly challenging ourselves through collaboration with our wonderful team. And because of that, we’ve decided to showcase our employees from time to time. Not only are they breaking boundaries and pushing the envelope at work, they’re doing that in all facets of their lives. Since this is our first employee spotlight, we found it fitting to highlight one of our newest team members, Tiffany Koptish.

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Tiffany, VigLink’s new Advertiser Development Manager, came to us (and the tech world in general) from a background in finance and cosmetics. Tiffany lived in San Francisco for eleven years and noticed, like many other people, the changing landscape of our city as tech firms moved from Silicon Valley into the heart of San Francisco.  Seeing the fast-paced innovation and a fit of niche products for consumer’s use made her want to be part of the growing trend.  Without direct experience in technology, she started doing coffee chat surveys to learn about roles at varying tech companies.  Tiffany began digesting as much industry news as possible and proactively attending technology mixers as well as speaker panels.  Through these, she met great people who were willing to help her find what she proclaims is her “dream role” at VigLink. Tiffany is also an active member of the community, on weekends you might find her at St. Anthony’s serving meals or being a youth mentor at the JCC.

So…what’s Tiffany’s advice for merchants?

Merchants who have seen success with VigLink often ask, “How can I expand my business for extra reach?” One of the most immediate impacts we offer is the opportunity to join our Insider Marketing Program that highlights brands with competitive revenue share in their industry.  VigLink promotes these brands in high visibility avenues like our email newsletter, insider twitter, and recognition on our merchant homepage. This is a great way to showcase your brand and get in front of a carefully curated group of publishers to share your story.  

 Written by Hanna Fritzinger

This Week in Tech: Publishers granted greater control by Google

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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

EPC Explored Infographic Released

There are many ways to measure your native advertising efforts.  At VigLink we tend to focus on earnings per click (EPC). EPC represents a per-click measure of how efficiently your traffic is earning from advertisers. For a given volume of clicks, the higher your EPC, the higher your revenue. It’s imperative for publishers to understand how EPC functions in order to maximize their earnings; this means finding out where people are earning the most, in what industries, and on which devices. We analyzed 100 million clicks and four million dollars in revenue to bring you a detailed breakdown of where the money is.

Calculating EPC is as simple as dividing total commission by total clicks. By doing so, you’re able to determine the potential worth of clicks on your site. But EPC is actually driven by a variety of other variables.  The publisher must also consider (a) price of the item recommended (b) average commission rate of the merchant (c) average likely conversion rate of the shopper.  EPC is the product of those variable.  If one of every hundred clicks from your site turn into a purchase for a $100 gadget, for which you are paid 5%, then your EPC would be (0.01 * (100*0.05)) = $0.05 per click.  Keep the click number constant but sell goods worth $200, and your EPC will double.  Keep clicks and item price constant but double the commerce intent of your traffic by really encouraging them to buy, and the increased conversion rate will mean higher EPC for you.

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One way to consider EPC is by industry. Our data suggest the top three are financial services ($1.80), motorcycles & power-sports ($1.50), and lifestyle ($1.37). On the contrary, the three lowest are art & entertainment ($.06), travel ($.19), and family & baby ($.27). The purchase price of items in the first three industries tend to be significantly higher in cost than the later three, they also warrant recurring customers which merchants value and are willing to pay higher prices for.This explains their high EPCs.

With increasing resources and time devoted to tracking consumer trends over mobile and desktop devices, publishers are focusing more on where they are getting their traffic. Mobile is quickly emerging and will be more influential than desktop traffic in the near future, but it isn’t there yet. Even if publishers have equal amounts of mobile and desktop traffic, that doesn’t mean the conversion rate on mobile clicks is as high.

We learned desktop EPC was the highest at $0.07. Not surprisingly, tablet EPC was not far behind desktop at $0.06, but mobile remained low at only $0.02. Showing that even as mobile traffic to sites is increasing, people are still far less likely to purchase on those devices. The poor user experience on mobile risks deterring even the most avid shoppers. When considering the sports and fitness industry this trend mapped out exactly following the trend with desktop EPC at $0.18, tablet EPC at $0.13, and mobile EPC at $0.10.  Device EPC will be the number to watch as apps and mobile websites continue to increase their accessibility to customers. With the combination of these more efficient sites and the upcoming generation being more comfortable on their mobile devices than desktops, mobile EPCs will undoubtedly continue to rise, but for now… don’t neglect your desktop experience.

Written by Hanna Fritzinger

VigLink has a Pinterest!

VigLink Pinterest

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…

  1. Discover the Pinterest Community
  2. Generate original, thought-provoking content
  3. Unite all of your current social networks
  4. Piggyback popular pins!

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?    

Written by Hanna Fritzinger

Our afternoon at Larkin Street Youth Services

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We had a wonderful time volunteering at the Larkin Street Youth Services center yesterday afternoon. When we arrived we were greeted by their incredible Manager of Volunteers & Community Relations, Jessie, who gave us an introduction to the center and told us more about the wonderful work they do to help San Francisco’s most vulnerable youth. Not only is Larkin Street Youth Services in it’s 30th year of operation but it has evolved from a single drop-in center into 25 youth programs housed across 15 different sites. The center is set to continue to grow as they move into a larger space and have greater ability to serve an even more youth and engage them in various programs.

Our team helped by cooking lunch, organizing the clothing donation closet, and making hygiene kits.  It was wonderful to speak with some of the teens and share about ourselves and what we do. We found it truly rewarding to be amongst people who are doing such important good within our community. If you want to learn more about Larkin Street Youth Services and all of amazing things they are doing take a look at their website!

Written by Hanna Fritzinger

FarFetch: Shop the World’s Best Boutiques – All in One Place

FarFetch

Farfetch is an online marketplace that unites the most influential fashion boutiques around the world in one, easy-to-shop website.

With more than 2,000 carefully curated brands across womenswear, menswear and lifestyle from 258 boutiques in 22 countries, this brand, creates a truly global shopping experience.

Farfetch

We are delighted to announce a 43% increase in commission (10%CPA) an exclusive rate for Viglink users. Additional benefits from this Insider Merchant include, a high average order value, purchases shipped directly from the world’s best boutiques creating a truly unique experience and free returns with pick up service.

Furthermore! Farfetch have now launched a ‘Global Free Shipping’ event which will run for the next seven days.

T&C’S: Free Global Shipping: 9am (GMT) Tuesday 22nd October – 9am (GMT) Tuesday 29th October. On full price orders over £100/€118/US$160. Max shipping discount £40/€47/US$64. Free shipping is automatically applied at checkout.

 

What Does UX Have to do with Monetization?

Last week, Mashable posted a video interview with Jesse James Garrett, author of The Elements of User Experience, and a pioneer in the space as it applies to the web.

Garrett points to a trend among technology companies in which they are now starting to invest heavily in developing and improving user experience (UX).  As he sees it, companies have shifted from taking a narrow, tactical approach with graphic designers (buttons, menus, and fonts) to evaluating the entire picture of what makes a truly beautiful experience. Where UX was once a check box on the long list of tasks to complete a project, it has now evolved into an essential part of product strategy, and, for some businesses, a key driver of success.

When working with publishers, we often find them struggling to balance user experience with monetization. Distracting, irrelevant display ads could actually turn readers away, undermining the entire business. Yet monetization doesn’t have to compromise user experience. There is no foregone trade-off between readers and revenue. For example, limiting the number of ad placements while holding them to a strict measure of relevance and quality can help retain readers and maximize ad engagement.  Of course, VigLink is a tasteful solution to monetization that respects user experience. By affiliating links within your content, VigLink doesn’t rely on the traditional tricks of distraction or interruption. By integrating a monetization solution into actual content (vs the white space around content) publishers can avoid the pitfalls of banner blindness, enhance the user experience, and still earn revenue.

For some, user experience is at the heart of how they run their company. For others, it’s a philosophy that drives the smaller, tactical decisions (such as monetization). Garrett’s interview got us thinking about how we incorporate user experience into our business. As you think about the same for your business, consider the old Google mantra – “focus on the user, and all else will follow.”

Whitney, VigLink Marketing Communications Manager