Bob’s Weekly Reading Picks
2019.9.15 volume 36
1.Publisher Spotlight: The Daily Beast
2.Publisher Spotlight: Piggy
3.Industry Comments: Key Takeaways from DMEXCO 2019
4.Skimlinks on Creating Powerful Partnerships Through “Commerce Content”
5.Video Marketing: The Definitive Guide by Backlinko
6.Tim Cook tries to reduce Apple’s dependence on devices
7.Alibaba’s New Chairman Says He Has to Reinvent Retail
Why and when was The Daily Beast created?
The Daily Beast actually launched about 11 years ago, and it’s been publishing award-winning original reporting and sharp opinion at the intersection of culture and power since then. Over the years, we’ve expanded into other coverage verticals like science, travel, and food and beverage. Today, our cross-platform reach is nearly 30 million users each month.
In 2018, we noticed that our readers were starting to rely on our product recommendations in the same way they trust us to navigate the news. We took that interest and ran with it, launching a dedicated editorial shopping and product recommendations section in September of 2018.
In what way does The Daily Beast utilize Affiliate Marketing?
All of the articles published under the Scouted vertical use affiliate links. Our editorial team publishers a variety of types of coverage: sales, product launches, reviews and recommendations, roundups, gift guides, etc. As with so many other premium content publishers in this space, we really see this as a win-win-win opportunity.
What kinds of products and deals resonate with your audience?
We’re just a year in and still learning, but so far some big hits have been footwear, CBD products, bags, activewear, and kitchen goods (everything from Instant Pots to knives). When it comes to apparel and accessories, simple yet polished and versatile styles tend to win.
We’ve seen a lot of interest in tech and skincare products, and will continue to expand coverage in those categories in the coming months.
How does The Daily Beast differentiate itself from competitors in the affiliate space?
Our readership provide a unique opportunity: They tend to fall on in the mature millennial bucket and 45% have a household income of $100k+. As a result, we’ve seen that while price is always part of the equation, product quality and relevance to their lives is most important to our readers.
Our paid placement opportunities are also pretty unique. Each package includes a strategic mix of a sponsored post (written by our team), homepage exposure, and newsletter integrations.
Editorially, we try to differentiate ourselves in two main ways: First, we try to focus on the concept of elevated practicality. What are the basic items everyone needs in their life? And then alongside that, we think focus on the concept of service journalism with a perspective. How can we add value to our readers’ lives with our coverage?
What are the key factors in determining which programs to join and what do you look for in an advertiser partner?
This is driven by a combination of editorial judgment and data. Does our team think the brand’s products fit the criteria mentioned earlier? Have we seen reader interest in this brand or product category before? We also look at commission rates and have a preferred minimum.
What is the best way that an advertiser can help support their partnership with you?
We’re looking for partners that can help us scale – and in turn help them scale. There are a few key things that go a long way:
- Willingness to test higher commission rate levels
- Using our editorial submission form to surface new/exciting product and brand updates to our editorial team
- Filling in the data gaps, i.e. providing more detailed product level data that might not be available for every transaction on the platform
Do you have any upcoming promotions, new launches, or exciting news you would like to share?
Q4 means holiday shopping, so we’re absolutely gearing up for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and gift guides. This was our first Prime Day and will be our first Deals Week with a full editorial team.
We’re also rolling out a new set of conversion cards (think: fancy buy buttons) in Q4 that will give us more granular insights around reader behavior and interest across all Scouted coverage.
Piggy is a consumer-first browser extension. Through offering voucher content, cashback direct to consumer or by simply price matching and comparing brands, consumers are certain to have peace of mind when purchasing via Piggy.
How and why you entered the affiliate marketing industry
The affiliate marketing channel seemed the obvious choice as our initial launchpad. Relationships with networks and key agencies have given us a clear route to market and allowed us to secure strong content and offer for our users whilst building relationships with some of the world’s leading brands along the way.
With the use of aggregated voucher and product feeds, the networks have allowed us to build out our databases with relevant and refreshed content on a daily basis. As well as this, the tracking solutions and commission model lends itself perfectly to our core cashback offering.
What have you learnt about the industry (good and bad)
It is fundamental to ensure that our product is available in as many markets as possible from the “get-go”.
A challenge, as most global publishers and businesses are no doubt aware, is the changing of consumer demand on a market-by-market basis.
Growth in 2019/last 12 months
This year we have made our presence in the EMEA markets more structured with the introduction of headcount on the ground. We are attending more events and visiting more partners within the market.
Although our user count continues to grow at a fast pace, our retention rate remains above 95% and that is a true testament to the hard work being put in place to ensure our product is adding the right value at the right time and in the right place.
We now work with over 5,000 retailers globally but are keen to continue this effort by adding even more.
With multiple discussions on the opportunities and challenges taking a grip on the digital advertising industry, we round up some of the industry experts thoughts on the key takeaways from DMEXCO 2019 – from the duopoly, GDPR and transparency in programmatic advertising to the future of cookie tracking, voice technology and the exciting potential of Connected TV.
Steffen Svartberg, CEO and founder of Cavia: “The duopoly is forecasting for $176.4 billion in ad revenues amounts to a 22 per cent increase in 2019 and Google and Facebook’s combined share of the global online ad market in 2019 is 61%, up from 56% in 2018 (WARC 2019). “
Mattias Spetz, managing director EMEA at Channel Factory: “In the current geopolitical climate, political, racist and sexist content were particularly sensitive; raising an interesting position on brand suitability and buying truisms. At the TAG panel on day 2 of DMEXCO, they discussed how brand safety is a component of a larger effort to control ad placement that a few digital advertising buyers and sellers are now starting to label as Brand Suitability. “
Anna Forbes, UK General Manager, The Trade Desk: “TV has long been one of the most powerful mediums for advertisers and the injection of technology will only make it more so.
Cookies have developed a bad rep for being synonymous with annoying ads and relentless retargeting – leading many to claim the death of the cookie to be imminent. But what it’s easy to forget is that the cookie is fundamental to the free internet. ”
Nick Beck, CEO & founder of Tug: “A key conversation on the ground was the diminishing status of third-party cookies, and what the impact for buyers and sellers is as we move away from this kind of ‘heritage’ tracking system.
Given the slightly smaller conference space at DMEXCO this year, what also struck me was the profusion – perhaps over-saturation – of data analytics platforms.
Voice technology and marketing is still just in its infancy, so we’re excited to work with brands in this space. ”
Mike Klinkhammer – director of advertising sales EU at eBay: “While VR and augmented reality sparked conversations at DMEXCO this year, the true reality was that those bells and whistles were there to mask some of the bigger more tangible problems brands and marketers are facing.
The one seemingly absent topic was the importance of supply path optimisation. Marketers are demanding more transparency from their suppliers, and this should be front and centre of these conversations.”
Gavin Stirrat, VP Europe, partner services at OpenX: “One theme that arose repeatedly in our conversations at DMEXCO was the ongoing development of OTT/CTV.
Content is king, but with battles raging over original and proprietary content it’s becoming increasingly important to focus on who owns the castle.”
Marc Fanelli, GM, Forensiq and Altitude at Impact: At the TAG panel on the second day of DMEXCO, Smaato proclaimed that you can bring down ad fraud by working with the right tech partners.”
Damon Reeve, CEO of The Ozone Project: “I also learned that the ad-tech community is not yet properly addressing the future of browser-based identity and tracking.
What we need is a real shift in the conversation from finding ways of duping the browsers on cross-domain tracking, to how programmatic advertising will operate in a cookie-less world and how to evaluate its effectiveness.”
Grant Munro, SVP Shutterstock Custom: “Marketers have to be sensitive of the markets and cultures they’re operating in and reflect this thought process in marketing materials, whilst maintaining true and consistent to the brand.”
Ben Walmsley, Commercial Director – Publishing, News UK: “Talk has turned into the serious business of the ICO’s investigation and the more dramatic proclamations of privacy ultras.”
Following the news of Partnerize and Skimlinks enhanced integration to deliver e-commerce content and offers to publishers on the platform, we caught up with Dunia Silan, Skimlinks VP revenue for EMEA and APAC to discuss how the platform has successfully created powerful partnerships through “commerce content”.
Before we get into the world of commerce content and how Skimlinks drives business for publishers, it would be great to hear about your path to your role there. Can you give us a quick overview of how you got to your current role?
Dunia Silan: We started learning about multiple networks and publishers in the space, acting as an open OPM, one of those partners being Skimlinks. Fast forward a couple of years, I moved back to the UK and took the role of commercial director as I enjoyed how Skimlinks worked with publishers. I soon moved to VP of revenue in EMEA and APAC, focusing on growth and helping to commission Skimlinks in those two regions.
Can you tell us how Skimlinks fits into the affiliate marketing ecosystem? How do you work with Publishers and Merchants?
DS: Skimlinks is a commerce content monetisation platform that allows publishers to earn revenue from the content they write about when it generates a sale.
When looking at the ecosystem, we start with the merchant/advertiser. If they want to run an affiliate program they would need to work with an affiliate network, which works with a wider range of publishers. Some are loyalty, cashback, tech publishers, and subnetworks. Skimlinks is set up as an editorial subnetwork. This means the merchant has access to the most premium content publishers – a total of 60,000 publishers globally.
Can you expand a bit on what you mean by a commerce content monetisation platform? And what are the various forms of commerce content you see on the platform?
DS: Skimlinks is the one-stop-commerce shop for premium editorial publishers. Through the platform, publishers can focus on making great content and with a single click, they can access up to 50,000 merchants across 60 networks globally.
The publisher produces amazing content while accessing the commerce data, revenues and solutions, all within one platform. Publishers then digest this information to share internally with their editors and make key decisions on their commerce strategy moving forward.
The transparency of data is also crucial to all parties involved. The publishers use this for an editorial and commercial point of view to set targets and understand where their performance is coming from, whilst the networks plus merchants use data so they can optimise with and reward specific publishers effectively.
What does a Skimlinks program look like on a site? What are the executional elements of how you monetise content for publishers?
DS: Commerce content itself is presented in different formats. It could be deal-based content, comparison content or in the form of reviews, guides or user-generated content. The publishers can use our tools that enable them to straightway see the commission rates offered on a merchant’s website and whether a brand has an affiliate program. We look out for links in the articles that publishers produce and turn them into affiliate links, hence monetising the content automatically.
You mentioned earlier the importance of data transparency — what is unique about the level of data Skimlinks provides to publishers?
DS: The data is aggregated across 50,000 merchants and networks. What’s unique is the one-stop-shop a publisher implements with Skimlinks while having access to view any brand and all the different rates available as well access the data via Hub, API, or directly ingesting it.
What sort of advertisers are most interested in publisher-level transparency? Is this most relevant to the largest affiliate programs, or is it broader than that?
DS: As brands reach the stage of growth and become more familiar with the types of publishers on their program, the need for data transparency becomes more important.
As our category evolves, more and more brands are trying to collaborate directly with their largest partners to deliver better results. How is your relationship with top brand advertisers changing?
DS: We’ve been getting involved and encouraging this in various ways:
First, by facilitating introductions and meetings with top brands and publishers.
Second, by arranging networking sessions inviting all parties involved in the affiliate ecosystem with networks, publishers and advertisers opening up to discuss challenges and optimisation tactics.
Third, by moderating events and webinars and discussing specific topics that have a huge impact on ROI.
Fourth: by getting involved with brands on multi-touch attribution where brands and publishers are rewarded for the shopping journeys they initiate.
Lastly, getting advertisers and publishers to diversify and not put all their eggs in the traditional advertising basket.
You work with many types of sites and are particularly strong with content publishers. Many advertisers are looking to expand their presence in content sites. What advice do you have for brands about how to work best with content publishers?
DS: First of all, look at the data and understand who your top-performing publishers are. Next is offering the most exclusive rates and offers to publishers so that you can place yourself in the top 10% of your own vertical so the publishers can priorities you. Publishers love to create stories about new products ranges so feed product launches with as much advance notice as possible and give the rights to something exciting for them to work with. Trust the publishers with their content and strategy, they have editorial integrity, love the brands they write about and know what the readers want, so be flexible and trust what they’re doing. Furthermore, give as much support as possible to an editorial piece and watch the conversion rates increase.
Lastly, what parting words of advice do you have for publishers looking for new ways to monetise content?
DS: Diversify from traditional media lines that might be declining and invest in commerce as a growth channel. For some publishers, it accounts for 25% of their overall revenue. Also, using Skimlinks is as simple as copying and pasting a script, and in return, you are accessing multiple brands to write about as well as using tools to answer key questions around how to formulate and ramp up a commerce strategy. Lastly, leverage multi-channel attribution and publish content across multiple devices and channels for maximum yield.
CHAPTER 1: Video Marketing Fundamentals
CHAPTER 2: Proven Video Content Templates
Template #1: The How-to Video
Template #2: Product Demo
Template #3: Explainer Video
Template #4: The Case Study
CHAPTER 3:Video Equipment Checklist
CHAPTER 4: How to Film Awesome Videos
- Use a Script Or Outline
- Use 3-Point Lighting
- Set Up Soundproofing
CHAPTER 5: Edit Videos Like a Pro
- Color Correction
- Lots of Cuts
- Graphics and Animations
- Shooting For The Edit
CHAPTER 6: Advanced Strategies and Techniques
- Nail The First 5-10 Seconds
- The Sequel Technique
- Mix Things Up
- Test Longer Videos
- Use a Consistent Look and Feel
- Use Humor
CHAPTER 7: Video Marketing Case Studies
Smartphones have become boring. Consumers around the world are upgrading less frequently. Sales have stagnated (see chart). That poses a problem for Apple, which has built its success on charging eye-watering prices for aspirational, frequently replaced devices. Its response—to focus more on selling services and less on selling hardware—has been widely trailed. Those services comprise everything from extended warranties to the creation of an Apple-exclusive store for video games, and for streaming video, on which it plans to spend $6bn and which is designed to undercut rivals like Disney and Netflix.
That project, Freshippo, has since become a major part of Zhang’s blueprint for Alibaba’s future, with 150 stores (and counting) across 17 Chinese cities.
Ma is a global figure known for hobnobbing with heads of state and for his fiery speeches at gatherings such as the World Economic Forum. Zhang is slight and soft-spoken, often proceeding haltingly in English during calls with investors.
He says Alibaba is uniquely positioned to pull together the online and offline worlds in groceries and beyond, and dozens of his new initiatives are leading Alibaba deeper into fields including finance, health care, movies, and music.
Starting in 2008, Zhang took over the development of Tmall. To attract brand names to the site, he furnished top merchants with new levels of information on their customers: who was buying what, where they lived, which kinds of ads worked best. Sales boomed, and Zhang slowly coaxed global brands such as Procter & Gamble Co.’s Tide and SK-II into selling online in China.
In 2009, Zhang and his team created Singles’ Day, an annual deals-fest that coincides with a relatively obscure Nov. 11 celebration of singlehood.
Alibaba has already sunk $4 billion into Singapore’s Lazada Group to expand in Southeast Asia, but it has struggled in key markets such as Indonesia.