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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Digital Expertise to Support Publisher’s Innovative Approach to Combining Content and Commerce

NEW YORK, NY (August 4, 2015) – On the heels of its large investment by Canso, Purch, a digital content and commerce company, today announced it has added two new members to its Board of Directors: Martin Nisenholtz, former digital head for The New York Times Company and professor of digital communication at Boston University, and John Stellato, private investor and consultant. Both bring deep expertise that will help Purch grow its digital publishing model of combining content and commerce and accelerate its already-strong organic growth through strategic acquisitions.

To share this news, click here: [Click to Tweet Link – .@PurchGroup adds digital visionary @martinn123 & consultant John Stellato as Board members].

“We continue to maintain our spot as the largest tech publisher in the U.S., with more than 100 million monthly unique visitors, and we intend to keep growing that audience by introducing new ideas, sites, and services that advise, entertain, and enable consumers’ purchases,” said Greg Mason, CEO, Purch. “The perspective Martin and John bring to the table will be invaluable in propelling our momentum and scaling our content-commerce model.”

Martin Nisenholtz

One of the most respected executives in the online media world, according to Om Malik, Nisenholtz was the founding leader for nytimes.com in 1995 and Chief Executive of New York Times Digital from 1999-2005, when he was promoted to Chief Digital Office for The Times Company. He oversaw the Times’ digital strategy, including the expansion to mobile and the introduction of a metered paywall.

“The digital world has created such a disjointed buying experience – research here, compare there, and buy somewhere else. Purch has identified an opportunity to service a consumer need and create immense value for marketers, simultaneously,” said Martin Nisenholtz. “Purch’s opportunity as a content and commerce business is vast; the company is equipped to change the way consumers and businesses make buying decisions.”

Nisenholtz currently serves on the boards of Yellow Media (TOR:YLO), Postmedia Network (TOR: PNC-B), and RealMatch. He is a Venture Partner at Firstmark Capital in New York and member of the advisory board at Carmel Ventures in Israel. He founded the Online Publishers Association (now Digital Content Next) in 2002 and serves as an advisor to the DCN Executive Committee. Nisenholtz founded the Interactive Marketing Group (currently Ogilvy Interactive) at Ogilvy & Mather in 1983, the first digital agency at a major U.S. advertising firm and among the first in the world.

John Stellato

Stellato brings broad expertise across the financial services, industrial/retail, and mergers and acquisitions areas. Previously, he was Executive Vice President of The Pritzker Organization, LLC (TPO), a merchant bank and family office representing business interests of the Pritzker family of Chicago, where he served for nearly 20 years. He has been an Officer and Director of numerous privately held companies.

“Purch takes a non-traditional approach to building its media business and I’ve been impressed by the way the company continues to diversify services and revenue streams, growing across a wealth of owned and operated sites,” said John Stellato. “I’m excited to be part of its disruption in digital publishing and adjacent markets.”

Since 2011, Stellato has served as a member of the Board of Directors and Audit Committee of Conversant Intellectual Property Management. Since 2014, he has been a member of the Board of Directors and Audit and Finance Committee of Loyal3.

To learn more about Purch and its owned and operated sites, please visit www.purch.com.

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