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 Ross Benes

Publishers have gotten data religion.

A few years ago, publishers began enlisting data scientists to help with audience building and monetization. But back in 2014, publisher data teams usually consisted of only a person or two. Since then, several publishers have expanded their number of full-time data experts. And their roles have grown too. Media data scientists are now developing apps based on machine learning, shaping content-management systems, teaming up with first-party data providers and testing augmented reality features. Here are a handful of large publishers that have increased their emphasis on data analysis.

Mashable
In 2013, Mashable brought on Haile Owusu, who has a doctorate in theoretical and mathematical physics, as its chief data scientist to work on the site’s analytics tool that predicts which articles will go viral. Since then, Mashable has hired two additional full-time data analysts and added an intern. In the past year, the data team led by Owusu has helped shape Mashable’s new CMS and its Knowledge Graph tool, which tracks how branded content on Mashable is shared through social platforms, email and text messages. The team was not affected by the round of 30 layoffs Mashable did in April. “There was a pent-up demand for insights around the performance of our content,” Owusu said.

Purch
The tech network, which publishes Top Ten Reviews and Live Science, is a different type of publisher in its data focus and commerce-heavy strategy. Purch launched its own ad tech platform, Ramp, in 2014. Since then, its number of data scientists grew from one to five. Their focus is mostly on creating recommendation models that pair content with related consumer products. “We realized how much data we had and that we needed to analyze it to know whether we were charging the right price for advertising,” said Purch CTO John Potter. With Microsoft’s HoloLens, Snapchat’s Spectacles and Google Glass in the news, Purch’s data team has been testing augmented reality features in Purch-owned shopping app ShopSavvy.

Read the full article here: http://digiday.com/publishers/newsrooms-expanding-data-teams/

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By Lucia Moses

If some publishers are cooling on Facebook Instant Articles, they’re becoming hot and heavy with Google AMP, the search engine’s answer to Instant Articles.

In February, Google rolled out AMP, which stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages, on mobile search results in Google News. Publishers scrambled to adopt Google’s open-source code on their pages because search still drives close to 40 percent of referral traffic overall, and they know that as their audiences shift to mobile, having fast mobile pages can only help them get surfaced by Google’s algorithm.

“We love it,” said Ben Robinson, Thrillist’s editorial director. Thrillist is getting 15 percent of its search traffic from AMP, boosting its search traffic by more than a third, which he called “exciting,” given the company is more lifestyle than news. At news-heavy USA Today Network, AMP is generating 12 percent of all mobile page views, said Michael Kuntz, svp of digital there.

So although Instant Articles is a new channel, AMP is fast becoming the de facto mobile web, so publishers have little choice but to get on board. “You really need access to that audience,” said John Potter, CTO of Purch.

Read the full article here: http://digiday.com/publishers/publishers-excited-google-amp-traffic-wonder-revenue-will-follow/

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By Phil Barrett

Google recently released a report on the rise of comparison shopping, quantifying the growing trend as brand loyalty continues to decrease and shoppers are slower to pull the trigger, looking for the best product or waiting around for the best deal. As this consumer behavior has become the norm, many publishers – from Gawker, to Lifehacker, to Business Insider, to Food & Wine – have capitalized on comparison shopping. But many have only gone as far as offering holiday gift guides, product comparisons, or other sales-orientated content to their readers.

Just as consumers are fickle about brands, looking for the best deal, they can be fickle about content. Oversaturating users with products won’t keep them coming back – they seek unique, quality information that makes purchase decisions easier, as more and more product choices and shopping destinations (online and off) flood the market. Today’s consumers are looking for content and tools to help them make the most informed purchase possible, and publishers are uniquely suited to sit in the middle of that transaction in ways that extend beyond traditional content.

Many publishers have already diversified to meet this emerging need, creating tools that act as service extensions on top of their content. This can lead to user loyalty, which generates repeat traffic that you don’t have to acquire otherwise. TripAdvisor, for example, has created an engaged and loyal audience by offering its users helpful content in the form of reviews and expert advice along with booking services that together serve a very specific need, travel in this case. It’s low-funnel marketing at its best and it’s helping boost the bottom line.

Read the full article here: http://www.talkingnewmedia.com/2016/10/04/as-comparison-shopping-becomes-the-new-norm-many-publishers-expand-services/

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Cash back and rewards program to extend across Purch’s brand portfolio

NEW YORK, September 22, 2016 – Purch, a digital content and commerce company that helps 100MM users make better buying decisions, today announced the launch of Purch Perks, a new loyalty layer to Purch’s already robust membership community – rewarding nearly 20 million existing members, while building and attracting new ones.

Purch and its brands are distinguished for first-rate buying reviews and advice in 1,200 categories spanning Tech, Consumer Electronics, Home, Health, Financial Services, Outdoor Goods, SMB, and more. The addition of the Purch Perks membership program further expands the company’s value proposition of “decision enablement” – helping users make the best purchases for their needs, and their wallet, through relevant reviews, advice, and seamless shopping extensions.

“As we continue to expand our content and commerce capabilities, we’ve thought a lot about high-value services that simplify the consumer purchase journey and create a tighter connection between buyers and sellers,” said Greg Mason, CEO of Purch. “Purch Perks is yet another service we’re offering to our members to seamlessly facilitate their buying decisions and cement their loyalty.”

Purch Perks is a strategic evolution of the company’s 2015 acquisitions of Active Junky and ShopSavvy. Perks is built on top of the Active Junky platform and is now available on the ShopSavvy App, one of the world’s largest mobile online shopping apps. Perks will be progressively incorporated into all other Purch brands, such as Tom’s Guide, Tom’s Hardware, TopTenReviews.com, and more, to create a more rewarding experience for loyal users.

Purch Perks benefits to include:

  • Cash back on many purchases;
  • Exclusive deals and offers to members;
  • Integration of decision enablement content from the Purch family of brands into the Perks experience;
  • Reward tiers for the most active and loyal customers;
  • Additional benefits to evolve over time, with increasing value based on participation and engagement.

To learn more about Purch Perks, visit http://purch.com/perks. To see how Purch is already integrating Perks into one of its brands, visit Shopsavvy.com or download the app on iOS or Android.

 

About Purch

Purch, a digital content and commerce company, helps 100MM+ users make better buying decisions in more than 1,200 product categories spanning Tech, Consumer Electronics, Home, Health, Financial Services, Outdoor Goods, SMB, and more. The company’s “decision-enablement” content and services integrate across its portfolio of brands including Top Ten Reviews, Tom’s Guide, Tom’s Hardware, Live Science, Shop Savvy, Purchx, Active Junky, Space.com, to guide users along their purchase journey.

The company’s performance and data-driven approach to connecting buyers and sellers has attracted more than 7000 marketing partners, including AT&T, Verizon, Samsung, Dell, LG, and many more – and drives more than $1 billion in commerce transactions, annually.

Purch is a high-growth, privately held company with more than 350 employees and offices across the U.S. and Europe. For more information on Purch, visit www.purch.com or follow the company on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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Media Contact:

Jennie Nason

SHIFT Communications

purch@shiftcomm.com

617-779-1866

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