By Bhavna Singh

Purch, a digital media firm which has a suite of technology content and eCommerce websites has raised a funding of $135 million to drive acquisitions.

Company’s Chief Executive Greg Mason said that the website mainly focuses on product reviews across more than 1,000 categories and target consumers who are in the final stages of research before making a purchase. The company also claims to have 100 million unique monthly visitors. Further he said 55% of Purch’s revenue comes from eCommerce, lead generation and performance marketing, with the remaining 45% coming from advertising.

The company in 2014 made a revenue of $100 million and has aimed to bring in more than $100 million by the end of 2015. As Mason confirmed the company is running profitable since 2012.

The present series C round of funding led by Canso Investment Counsel Ltd. ($16 billion Canadian portfolio group with extensive digital-media holdings) brings the company’s total funding to $175.5 million.

The tech company is based out of Ogden, Utah and has its offices across the U.S. and Europe. It plans to use the funding amount to finance acquisitions, growth and to buy out the earlier stage investors, as reported by WSJ.

The company was founded in 2003 as TechMedia Network, it has previously raised $40.5 million in three rounds from 3 investors namely Village Ventures, ABS Capital Partners and Highway 12 Ventures. Consumr, Buyerzone.com, BestofMedia Group etc are some of the 6 companies that Purch has acquired.

Read More: http://www.iamwire.com/2015/06/content-commerce-digital-media-firm-purch-raises-135m/117385

 

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There’s a lot out there on the internet, and maintaining user loyalty for a business platform isn’t easy. Whether you specialize in content or commerce, the goal remains the same: Keep them coming back.

Surprisingly, one of the better ways to do just that is to combine content and commerce into a singular, seamless driver of loyalty and fulfillment—for users, marketers and affiliates alike. And that is easier said than done.

Content-commerce models started to garner more attention in 2011, when high-profile launches such as Net-A-Porter’s Mr. Porter brand signified a renaissance in retail e-commerce strategies. Now, companies such as Thrillist, Birch Box and Warby have built an audience of advocates and loyal customers through their own unique content-commerce strategies.

But Purch CEO Greg Mason says his company has been in the content-commerce game for a lot longer, dating back to its original TopTenReviews platform that laid the groundwork for Purch in 2003.

“[Purch] has always had content and commerce,” Mason said. “The business, going back to the foundation of TopTenReviews, was very much oriented around decision enablement. You produce quality review formats and consider purchase-product categories. That attracts an in-market in tech-based consumers, and once they’ve made that brand selection decision, the next stop is obviously commerce.”

The key phrasing there is “decision enablement.” The big hook behind content-commerce isn’t necessarily baiting a product conversion and sealing the deal as quickly as possible. Rather, the real profit comes from giving consumers the confidence to make strong purchasing decisions, thus keeping them coming back for more, building an incubated customer demographic, and ultimately giving marketers and affiliates a reason to partner—meaning diversified revenue.

Roughly 81 percent of consumers research online before making major purchases, according to the Second Annual Major Purchase Shopper Studyconducted by GE Capital Retail Bank. And half of all retail sales will be influenced by the Web by 2017, according to Forrester’s U.S. Cross-Channel Retail Forecast for the 2012-2017 period.

Numbers aren’t necessary to spell out the obvious: The lion’s share of consumers go online to search, shop and buy, and they’ll give their business to whoever can streamline the process most effectively, guiding them through it along the way.

But that might raise a few concerns for business owners looking to adopt said strategy. After all, doesn’t that business model sound suspiciously like the format Amazon has used to cast a long shadow over quick-and-easy e-commerce?

In fact, it is. But where Amazon has focused on its reach, savvy content-commerce businesses should instead focus on niche audiences looking for a specific experience, as well as the curated editorial content that makes that experience so unique.

Companies such as Purch, which is rooted in content-commerce with 78 million monthly visitors and more than $1 billion in commerce transactions driven annually across multiple websites, have fine-tuned this burgeoning strategy into calculated artistry.

In early September Purch announced the launch of new digital storefronts to accompany its Live Science and Space.com titles, two major components of the company’s rapidly expanding business.

Purch has further strengthened its content-commerce focus by offering the review formats, editorial content and, now, direct access to related products that complete the three-part equation of a seamless content-commerce conversion.

“We’re under no illusion that we can out-Amazon Amazon, by any stretch of the imagination,” Mason said. “We believe that in the age of an Amazon-like world where Amazon sells everything under the sun, there’s still a lot of interest on the part of consumers in more of a specialized, customized kind of experience, and that’s the opportunity we see.”

Even though content-commerce provides a potentially profitable business model that undercuts the revenue shortages of traditional content sites and yields the consumer loyalty sometimes absent in typical e-commerce hubs, it’s not necessarily an easy journey.

Philip Brown, startup consultant and junior VP of website developing company Yellow Flag, said the road to content-commerce success should be tread cautiously.

“As competition for online sales continues to become more intense, I think the content-commerce model will become increasingly important,” Brown said. “Differentiation on the Internet is incredibly difficult. When your competitors are only a click away, you need to increase your game far beyond what has been typically accepted.”

To overcome the initial hurdles of getting a content-commerce business up and running, Brown prescribes making early investments without expectation of immediate return, assembling a talented team that can bring the focus to the site’s content, and finding a niche audience with a lot of potential for turnover.

But despite preliminary difficulties, companies such as Purch are already demonstrating the promise of a successfully orchestrated content-commerce business model. “We’re pacing toward the nine-figure level in terms of company size, and that’s almost triple the size of what it was just two years ago,” Mason said.

And that shouldn’t be surprising. With 12 brands, more than 1,000 product categories, more than 100,000 original articles to date, 7,000 customers, 9 million registered community members, and 5 million social media fans and followers, Purch’s example represents the endgame for many content-commerce companies just getting started.

In 2003 what is now Purch was simply comprised of TopTenReviews, which is just one of the company’s 12 signature titles. And with more titles, companies will have more access to more niche audiences. With more niche audiences will come more advertising partners and affiliates. And with more advertising partners and affiliates will come an exceptionally diversified revenue portfolio.

Mason puts it simply: “When we think about our mission of making complex purchase decisions easier, we don’t think one size fits all.”

See FierceRetail’s full interview with Purch CEO Greg Mason here.

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The publishing industry has long struggled to find the right monetisation mix that works for everyone – advertisers, publishers and consumers. However, today striking this balance is not only possible but it is also, for a number of reasons, becoming crucial.

With competition for people’s attention increasing in the digital space, consumers have more options to switch media channels than ever. And if it’s not fickle consumers making life difficult for publishers it is the search engines constantly tweaking their algorithms to favour only quality content and pages with fewer and fewer ads. This, of course, undermines the traditional ad model that most publishers are used to.

As we can now no longer rely totally on advertising, one model for survival in the current media landscape is to boost revenues through “content + commerce”. I believe there is a virtuous circle that can be achieved by providing a good experience for the user. This starts with helpful content in an environment that makes the consumption of content both friendly and efficient. If the customer is happy with the advice and experience then it is easier to connect them with the marketers on the page. Having said that, this is easier said the done, and why a lot of publishers just add more and more ads to the page to compensate for the click through rates. But the rewards make it worth the effort.

So, if you want to pursue a more commerce-focused approach, what types of content works best? Essentially, “Reviews” and “Guides” are much more effective for creating “actionable” content than the traditional news category.

This is down to the nature of content and what the buyer’s intent is when they are reading it. When the intent is to buy, fix or add on then “Guides” or “How tos” are by far the best content mechanism and there is a definite opportunity for a “content + commerce” relationship with brands. If the consumer is still at the research stage, then “Reviews” are the most effective. News, on the other hand, is really an advertising media and should be used just to raise awareness.

Despite this, the majority of publications continue to focus on news categories regardless of the costs and labour involved. This is often because news content is seen as the most engaging and more highbrow. However, “Reviews” are far from dumbed down content; providing your own conclusion, rating and scores is not something publishers can make up and time has to be spent with the products under review to accurately appraise them. But ultimately it’s this type of content that drives our conversion rates at upwards of 24 percent.

Publishers also need to remember that they need to know their customer as well as possible. So their focus must be on researching and understanding customer data. Content production must then be driven by that data; while journalists may think they know how to write for a product or market, the data can often show that consumers are thinking differently.

With so much consumer energy spent searching for information on products, pulling everything into one place is a guaranteed winner for publishers. Trip Advisor is a great example of how this works in practice. The website provides professional and community content and helps people by simplifying the decision to book a hotel. This is what we’re replicating in the tech category to drive stronger relationships with marketers.

Beyond this, publishers looking to develop their “content + commerce” relationships, need to look at how they are delivering their content. This means understanding where the individual platforms lie within the buying cycle and whether they can actively trigger buying decisions.

For example, our data shows that the majority of purchases still take place from desktops. To this end sites like Top 10 Reviews will display a matrix of those 10 on the screen. On smartphones, however, the site only displays the top 3 on the first page. This is because smartphones are at a different stage in purchase funnel.

Essentially, experience should be customised to the device. Users tend to be trying to do something other than a direct purchase on smartphones and tablets. Tablets tend to be used earlier in the buying cycle for browsing and research; while smartphones tend to be used for showrooming.

Once you have created the content and optimised your review pages, you can build more valuable commerce relationships. This may mean stripping out a lot of the exiting ad space, but the value of the remaining inventory will be enhanced through its relevance and conversion rates, plus the fact that ultimately you are creating a better experience for the user and therefore ultimately making them more likely to respond to any marketing messages or calls to action.

By Antoine Boulin at Purch 

Read More: http://blog.creamglobal.com/right_brain_left_brain/2014/06/creating-customer-experiences-to-trigger-buying-decisions.html

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