Generating revenues from content is a tricky and even risky business, but it’s also essential for media companies’ long-term viability. While some digital publishers integrated the commerce side from the start, others have been busy catching up. Selected media brands shared their stories from the trenches at the Content to Commerce / C2C Summit in New York on Tuesday, hosted by Skimlinks, a content monetization platform.
Publishers large (Gawker Media) and small (Gear Patrol) dispensed advice ranging from the types of content that drives traffic to different format options and logistics. Interestingly, while Gawker has extended from content to commerce, Gear Patrol has evolved in the opposite direction. (Image above courtesy of Gear Patrol)
Below are 10 key takeaways.
1. Create commercial content that benefits readers:
Gawker’s priority is relevance to readers, and they use various methods to source optimal products, according to Erin Pettigrew, VP of business development. They utilized crowdsourcing and user-generated content when they asked readers for their picks of the best luggage carry-ons. Then they compiled the list and readers voted for the top five. They also feature tech deals on their sites like lifehacker.
2. Make content shoppable with links:
“Our content drives actions, like sharing and buying the products cited in out articles. So we make sure we track it and get credit for these purchases,” said Pettigrew.
3. Clearly display disclosures:
“It’s important to be forthcoming and say it like is”, Pettigrew said. She was referring not only to Gawker’s candid editorial, but also to their commerce content. Therefore, selected posts carry the note: ”This post is brought to you by our commerce team.”
4. Set up dedicated commerce teams:
Gawker’s lean commerce staff numbers only 3-5 people out of the companies’ 300 employees. As Pettigrew noted, they’re charged with “vetting products that readers care about at reasonable prices.”
5. Maximize limited resources:
Focusing on the fundamentals is the M.O. for Gear Patrol, a site devoted to gear, adventure and an active lifestyle, according to co-founder and editor, Ben Bowers. As a smaller media player, they only have about 15 employees overall.
6. Inspire as well as inform:
“Too many buying guides just inform and are missing the key ingredient of inspiration that entices consumers and generates intent,” said Bowers.
7. Feature quality visuals:
Showing vs. telling is key, and original images work best. Gear Patrol uses different formats to showcase products. Sometimes they utilize color themes with minimal text to merchandise the featured brands. They also use kits, or comprehensive sets of products organized around an activity. That way, consumers can figure out what they’re missing.
8. Include Image mapping:
Whether it’s an infographic or an array of products arranged on a page, the tags, labels and prices need to be properly identified so consumers can easily match them to the visuals, Bowers advised.
9. Collaborate with related sites:
Working on special projects with complementary sites can be effective, Bowers said. Gear Patrol teamed up with a classic car site for a feature about classic cars that included profiles of the owners alongside their vehicles.
10. Develop context around products:
Now that Gear Patrol provides more editorial content, they feature destinations. Their article about a 1000 mile motorcycle trip in British Columbia showcased motorbike gear, and their Belize issue had sidebars about wetsuits and underwater cameras.
(Image courtesy of: Gear Patrol)