Media, Commerce and Marketing Are One Industry – Publishers Need to Support It

By Kerry Twibell, Media Analyst to Sailthru

The first week in May is the Met Gala, a fashion event that generates $543 million in media impact value\ — an estimate that is higher than the Super Bowl. Vogue is a major player, creating a livestream of the stars walking the red carpet to the event that generated 16.5 million views last year, not to mention the other content across channels that it uses to create an advertising powerhouse. Brands like Cartier and Motorola shell out millions to secure advertising spots.

While most of the stars at the event wear one-of-a-kind dresses, the opportunity for a retail play is huge. To date, Vogue has largely stayed away from enabling commerce, or even data-driven targeting around the event. High-quality advertising opportunities like the Met Gala are largely still branding exercises because publishers worry that bringing commerce technology or data targeting into the mix would cheapen or complicate the issue. But that is starting to change.

Bringing New Commerce Concepts Together

Publishers are working hard to add in more commerce opportunities for their advertisers.  In the recent Newfronts, “shoppable ads” were a hot topic. Conde Nast presented its version of shoppable ads, with Pamela Drucker Mann, the brand’s Head of Sales, noting that the company wants its audience to be able to buy an outfit right off the red carpet.

At the same time, more commerce plays outside of advertising are making their way onto publisher sites. Conde Nast, Vogue’s parent company, posted its first profit in years, in part due to an increased focus on affiliate-based commerce revenue. Many other media companies have made commerce oriented acquisitions in recent years — like Meredith’s acquisition of Swearby and Dotdash’s acquisition of Meredith.

But it feels like the left hand isn’t working with the right hand. Groups working to increase commerce revenue aren’t working closely enough with marketing and advertising teams to see how they can strike deals with retail and brand partners that could fuel the entire engine. Not enough of the back-end is integrated to support a more holistic  play.

Coordinating efforts across teams can drive new opportunities and new revenue streams. If a brand has a commerce team building out storefronts, it’s a great opportunity to connect this commerce effort to brand advertising — providing broader opportunities for brands to reach their audiences that can also fund the commerce initiative directly, for example.

To support shared initiatives, publishers need the technology to be coordinated too. For example, unifying the customer data set across commerce, marketing and advertising can help with targeting and personalization. Similarly, combining measurement across teams can ensure that leaders can see how shared efforts drive performance across the company.

How to Safely and Successfully Mix in Data and Commerce

A lot of major publishers have long-running partnerships with retailers, creating an opportunity for tremendous innovation. Increased coordination between the commerce, content and marketing teams will create an even more holistic approach.

Technologies like data clean rooms make it much easier for publishers to safely share data with strategic partners, without risking a breach. An incredible 98% of consumers plan to make a purchase on social media this year and they know that their data is being used by those companies. As long as they get value in return, such as personalized experiences, audiences everywhere are open to new experiences powered by their own data.

Conde Nast noted that its new gated content microsite built around the Met Gala allowing audiences to vote on their favorite looks earned the company thirty thousand email addresses, for example. Imagine that each new subscriber could then get a promo code via SMS to purchase the look as well. That requires publishers to share some insights with brands to convince them to pay for a targeted campaign.

Future plc recently acquired WhoWhatWear, a site that’s built up tons of followers on social media and has experience with live shopping and other cutting-edge commerce-as-content features. Weaving these capabilities into a robust marketing program is a logical next step.

Grocery retailer Thrive Market sends custom shopping lists via email based on recent shopping history. A publisher could just as easily share insights from their own platform to create a suggested shopping list that could be sponsored by a specific brand that wants to reach that shopper.

Bridge the Gap Between Content and Advertising

The idea of combining commerce-related initiatives across advertising, marketing and content is only a matter of time. The publishers that can help brands seamlessly activate data-driven commerce experiences across content and advertising will gain the advantage. Finding a way to efficiently share insights with advertiser brands could be the bridge to enticing more of them to participate across a host of marketing and advertising opportunities.

The reality is that the historic “church and state” divide has not only eroded, it’s actually reversed. It’s better to integrate the backend to catch up with the integration that’s happened with the customer experience.

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