By AdExchanger

The Sell Sider is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.

Today’s column is written by Greg Mason, CEO at Purch.

The New York Times made its own headlines when it recently acquired Wirecutter, the five-year-old online product review site, for an estimated $30 million.

For one of the world’s biggest and most respected publishers, the acquisition of a niche site like Wirecutter is a low-risk and small-scale investment and builds on its roots in service journalism, as reflected in its news and lifestyle coverage. The New York Times sees itself as an essential service and Wirecutter is an extension of its commitment to servicing users.

But the real reason for the acquisition pertains to publishers’ concerns about the future of the traditional advertising market. Wirecutter is a way to combat this. It’s a very utilitarian site, and with so many lifestyle sites and general content, these niche plays that go beyond entertainment have tangible value, particularly to augment a generalist media entity.

The New York Times realizes the value of serving a lower-funnel audience with purchase intent and the money to be made off this model. The Times’ readers are not coming to the site with a purchase in mind, but that’s their intention when they visit Wirecutter. The acquisition is a way for the publisher to get a slice of this ecommerce spend – on content where it makes sense.

The Times and other publishers aren’t just suffering from the decline of print ad dollars. They simply aren’t seeing the growth they expected or need from digital ads. Facebook and Google are taking 70 cents on every new digital ad dollar and the fight for the remaining 30 cents is hypercompetitive.

Clearly, the Times wants to diversify its monetization and revenue lines. Acquisition is the quickest way to do so, but The New York Times will now have to think about strategically linking the systems or whether to keep Wirecutter as a standalone brand.

It’s not just the Times that is looking to diversify. More publishers are wading into ecommerce and affiliate waters because it’s a lucrative business when done right. I would advise them to do so cautiously.

Publishers can’t add affiliate links and buy buttons to their pages and expect new revenue automatically. Wirecutter serves a very unique purpose and attracts a very specific audience that is looking for specific content. For publishers that have built a following based on general news or entertainment, the same strategies do not apply. Like the Times, it’s important to consider the users’ standpoint, thinking first of their needs and how publishers can service them before weaving in affiliate links and buy buttons in a contextual way.

This sort of monetization belongs on low-funnel content that attracts consumers making buying decisions, rather than general news pages where buy buttons and affiliate links would appear out of context and feel more like an ad than a native, helpful tool.

Before trying to marry content and commerce, publishers must first ensure the ecommerce strategy extends directly from their core content strategy. Publishers must ask themselves where the natural bridges for commerce exist and what products and services actually extend their brand mission overall. They must also have a deep enough understanding of the core demographic profile or interests of their audience to truly provide a valuable service.

Then there’s the consideration of integrity. With all forms of advertising, there must be a separation of church and state with editorial on one side and advertising on another. With affiliate marketing, publishers must also be transparent about how they’re making money so users understand this model. Consumer expectations are evolving and they commonly see affiliate links all over the internet. The key to maintaining trust and integrity is clear communication and sitewide rules for placement and usage of affiliate links.

Read the full article here: https://adexchanger.com/the-sell-sider/publishers-beware-wading-ecommerce-waters/

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By Rylan Barnes & Phil Barrett

Voice interfaces are getting a lot of buzz right now, and for good reason. Gartner predicts that by 2018, 30 percent of our interactions with technology will be through conversations with smart machines. That’s why tech giants from Google to Microsoft to Apple are investing in voice — but this shouldn’t just be the business of the Goliaths. Savvy business owners and entrepreneurs, especially those in retail and ecommerce, must find a way to adopt these platforms to remain competitive as voice takes a front seat in commerce enablement.

This doesn’t mean creating your own Alexa or Siri. But it does mean taking advantage of the voice platforms already in place and the built-in audiences that are using them to increase customer loyalty and attract new business. For retailers or ecommerce sites, this means tapping into voice platforms so customers can ask if a certain store or site has the jeans they’re looking for in their size. For product review or comparison sites, this means asking where they can find the best camera for under $250 and asking for a detailed review, all while driving or cooking dinner.

In the best scenario, these voice platforms can offer guidance on all aspects of the buying process, removing any friction for the consumer and alleviating some of their decision-making responsibilities. But not all voice platforms have equal potential. Consumers are quickly realizing that most voice interfaces can’t do everything they claim (think Siri).

Why Alexa above others

So why isn’t the same happening to Alexa? Alexa does two important things to sidestep consumer disappointment. First, Alexa doesn’t try to do as much. It doesn’t have a screen to fall back on, and it forces users to stick to the script. In a way, Alexa is copying the original Google search model but in a more concise way. While Google can return several results, Alexa gives just the best answer, and it needs to be short and to the point. When people search Google and don’t find what they want, they just assume it doesn’t exist or that they put in the wrong search terms or Boolean logic. They don’t blame Google for not finding it. And it’s similar for Alexa. It’s a nuanced user response, but it could make all the difference in determining which AI platform(s) make it and which ones don’t.

Read the full article here: http://venturebeat.com/2016/11/01/why-amazon-alexa-is-so-dominant-right-now/

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By Phil Barrett

You’re an entrepreneur who has successfully navigated the shopper journey ecosystem to generate new customers – only to see most of them never return. We all know the way to a great, positive ROI is to keep more customers than you lose, so what can you do to increase retention rates and actually create loyal customers?

1. Forget spray & pray.

If you’ve had success in driving new customers to your business, chances are you already know quite a bit about them, including where they came from – referring website, social media platform, search engine, etc. – as well as a few things about who they are and what motivated them to come to your website, app or place of business in the first place. Given that, why are you sending all your customers the same message with the same offer at the same time?

Whether you are sending emails, mobile or social notifications, text messages or even direct mail, make sure you personalize your communications beyond including their name and address. The more you personalize your interactions with your audience based on what you’ve learned from them, the more likely they are to reward you with a second click, call or visit.

You don’t need to personalize each communication to every single person – we call that 1:1 marketing, which really isn’t practical for most businesses. Instead, create customer groups, also known as segments, of customers based on common traits, including buying or intent behavior.

You can start simple and create a few broader segments like geography, age and sex, which can then be refined into smaller segments once you have learned more about your customers.

Read the full article here: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/280128

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By Teresa Novellino

After receiving venture capital funding, startups typically start putting their money into growth whether it be by staffing up or new product development. Here’s one New York and Utah-based business that did a little bit of both through acquisition.

What’s the news: In June, Purch closed a $135 million investment round from Canso Investment Counsel to fund strategic acquisitions. ( See our interview with its CEO here.) Today, the tech content and commerce company that reaches nearly 57 unique visitors monthly, announced that it has acquired Active Junky, a loyalty platform and online shopping community that rewards and incentivizes consumers who buy outdoor gear from different retailers. With the acquisition, Purch which has offices in New York City and Ogden, Utah, adds a fast-growing shopping community of outdoor enthusiasts, plus a rewards and loyalty platform.

Read the full article here: http://www.bizjournals.com/newyork/news/2015/09/18/purch-acquires-active-junky-outdoor-good-platform.html

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By Tamara Chuang

’s own Active Junky, which connects astute shoppers to cash-back  on outdoor goods, is now part of Purch, a New York digital content firm that also owns tech-review sites like Tom’s Hardware.

 on Friday said it acquired Active Junky for an undisclosed price. Whatever that price, it was a portion of Purch’s recent $135 million cash infusion by a group of investors led by Canso Investment Counsel in Canada. The money was strictly to be used for acquisitions and growth since Purch “does not need the capital to fund operations,” the company said at the time.

 partnered with more than 200 retailers of outdoor goods, including REI, Sierra Trading Post and The North Face. Shop for items through  links and users can get some cash back — REI offers 6 percent. The site also aggregates coupon codes for extra discounts.

Read the full article here: http://blogs.denverpost.com/tech/2015/09/18/the-galvanize-link-between-purchs-purchase-of-denvers-active-junky/19032/

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