Browsed by
Category: Content Monetization

DIGITAL NATIVES: HOW GEN Z IS SHAPING THE FUTURE OF NATIVE COMMERCE

DIGITAL NATIVES: HOW GEN Z IS SHAPING THE FUTURE OF NATIVE COMMERCE

The CEO of an analytics firm once went on the record to declare that Generation Z “will be the most sophisticated consumers in the history of consumerism.” That might shock a lot of brands, as Gen Z — that is, the post-Millennial demographic born after 1997 — is perhaps most widely known as a bunch of detached, distracted screen junkies who recently decided it was cool to eat Tide Pods ironically.

Unlike their predecessors, Gen Z has had a lifelong relationship with the internet and can be tricky when it comes to marketing. Many brands simply don’t take Gen Z seriously, or even worse, just lump them in with Millennials.

Here’s the thing, though: research has shown that Gen Z’s internet-centric lifestyle has shaped them into thoughtful buyers who make well-informed purchases and eagerly interact with brands. In other words, they know what they want and aren’t afraid to seek it out. Plus, they’re on track to be the largest demographic of consumers by 2020 with enormous direct spending power — anywhere from $29 to $500 billion, depending on who you ask.

So, without further ado, here’s how you can structure your native commerce strategy so as not to miss out on Gen Z as a major market opportunity.

1. Make authenticity a priority.

Gen Zers are just like Baby Boomers in that they’re hesitant to offer up their personal info unless a brand is transparent with its benefits. And since they grew up bombarded with targeted ads, they prefer ads that are authentic and relatable, not outwardly persuasive or motivated merely by a desire to sell.

As a business, you’re best off portraying yourself to Gen Z less like a brand and more like a person. Native content make this an easy approach to adopt, providing a venue in which you can engage with the reader/consumer in a friendly, conversational voice, as if you were talking and making recommendations to an old pal rather than a client.

2. Help great deals shine.

When it comes to thriftiness, Gen Z are even shrewder than diamond-killing Millennials. In fact, experts say that modern teenagers will go so far as to encourage stronger price sensitivity within their own parents.

Since the average attention span of a Gen Zer is only about 8 seconds, it’s necessary to clearly (but casually) mention a product’s value or discount within the first few sentences of a post (in the headline is even better). Put a deal down the copy any further, and the reader will deem your message irrelevant and simply scroll on by.

gen z native commerce

3. Make your content easily shareable.

Having grown up idolizing social media influencers rather than traditional celebrities, Gen Z loves sharing content and — more importantly — loves being noticed for sharing content. Make it easier for them to do so in just a click or two by adding sharing buttons wherever possible, and making sure your site’s loading speeds are lightning fast.

Oh, and on a related note: Gen Z isn’t as active on Facebook as older generations, but that’s not to say they completely shun it. Studies have shown that they divide their time pretty evenly between Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, with the former being used primarily for engaging with brands to find deals and discounts. That makes the Zuck’s social network a great home for your native content.

4. Add a short, informative videos to posts whenever possible.

Not only does Gen Z love to watch videos — nine out of ten of them report visiting YouTube every day — but they love to learn by watching videos. When it comes to native content, then, consider embedding clips of product demonstrations or informative footage of products in action in your posts to further engage the demographic.

That being said, make sure the clips are brief — remember, a Gen Zer’s average attention span is only a few seconds long; anything longer than a minute or so will be considered a waste of their time.

5. Having a mobile-friendly site will be even more important than it is now.

A 2016 Google report summed it up best: “While Millennials were mobile pioneers, teens are mobile natives.” They got their first phones at a younger age than their predecessors, and dedicate hours of their attention every day to their devices.

Given their intimate relationship with phones, then, it should come as no surprise that much of Gen Z’s spending is done via smartphone. As such, creating content that’s optimized for mobile viewing won’t just be an option, but an absolute must. And if you provide Gen Z with a seamless content experience that doesn’t involve waiting for pages to load or flipping between apps, you can bet that they’ll be back — wallets at the ready — time and time again.

StackCommerce Hosts 2nd Annual Publisher Commerce Event

StackCommerce Hosts 2nd Annual Publisher Commerce Event

A major company highlight of 2018 was StackCommerce’s 2nd Annual Publisher Commerce Roundtable, an event that brought together an inspiring group of leaders in the publisher commerce space. Despite it being a rainy November evening in New York City, the energetic group gathered to mingle, discuss the latest trends, and share ideas around the future of the industry.

As we saw commerce monetization shift from small side project to core revenue stream, we also became aware of an increased demand for industry events that enable key stakeholders – from commerce editors to partnerships professionals to sales leads – to get together in a focused environment. This event spoke to that industry gap and featured the perspectives of some of the brightest minds in commerce.

The panel discussion was moderated by Digiday’s Max Willens, a leading journalistic voice whose pieces shed light on the trends and business models publishers are employing to generate commerce revenue. He led a vibrant panel with commerce leads from CNN, Hearst Digital, NBC, and Gizmodo Media Group, who each brought a unique perspective to the conversation. Here are some stand-out moments and learnings:

CNN entered the commerce arena in late 2017 with a stand-alone brand known as CNN Underscored. It has since launched a successful eCommerce shop powered by StackCommerce. Based on CNN’s perspective and experience, Max helped the panelists develop a point-of-view on when it might be appropriate for publishers to build up commerce brands distinct from their core businesses, and when they might be better served by keeping their content unified under their main brand.

NBCUniversal offered a totally different perspective regarding their robust commerce strategy and growing team, which includes affiliate commerce posts across The Today Show (which features an impressive TV deal segment business), NBC News, and other properties. We discussed ways in which publishers can scale up their commerce content, use paid social to increase their distribution, and explore a host of new product categories across a unique array of owned brands.

Next, the head of Hearst Media’s commerce efforts shared insights about how they manage the content generation process across several very distinct properties – from Popular Mechanics to Cosmopolitan – and use commerce data to inform other areas of their business such as direct ad sales and product development. This is best exemplified by their recent launch of a private label yoga mat, which was an idea sparked by strong affiliate sales in that category.

And finally, Gizmodo Media Group, one of the first publishers to develop a robust commerce strategy, shared insights from its successful Kinja Deals brand. Their Partnerships Lead offered interesting thoughts about how publishers should handle Amazon, the industry’s “800 lb gorilla” – i.e. when it makes to send their users to Amazon vs. establishing direct deals and working with partners such as StackCommerce.

Other topics of conversation included:

  • How to stand out from the noise: creating a viable strategy in light of how crowded publisher commerce has become (since “everyone’s doing it”). It’s a challenge and having a real brand helps.
  • Best practices for expanding your commerce content reach through social and other channels.
  • StackCommerce’s expansion into StackMedia: producing sponsored posts for advertising partners paid on a CPC basis rather than conversion.
  • Top sellers this year: DNA kits, robot vacuums, CBD gummies, and Bluetooth earbuds.

It was a fantastic event that provided a needed forum for commerce professionals in New York to get to know each other, talk shop, and learn new strategies. We’re looking forward to hosting an even bigger event again next year – and hope to see you there!

 

We’re Celebrating $100 Million In Payouts to Our Creator Community

We’re Celebrating $100 Million In Payouts to Our Creator Community

We’re thrilled to announce today that we’ve reached a financial milestone of $100 million in total payouts to our creator network of publishers and brands! From the beginning, our creator network has been our foundation and driving force, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to reach this pivotal milestone.

Back in 2011, we got our start by connecting niche, tech-focused content sites and their readers with highly relevant tech products through commerce content. Since then, we’ve expanded into the men’s lifestyle vertical, partnering with online content creators like theCHIVE and AskMen and connecting them with awesome up-and-coming lifestyle brands including new-to-market Kickstarter successes like Bomber Barrel and Illumibowl. Today, our brand ecosystem includes over 2,500 product creators big and small including household names like Rosetta Stone, Audible, Grammarly, and Hulu. This milestone is a testament to their innovation, creativity, and strong partnerships.

Since then, we’ve entered the women’s lifestyle space in 2017 with the acquisition of Joyus, and more recently, the news vertical. Today, we work with over 750 diverse bloggers, online media publishers, and linear television producers, including CBS Interactive, Vox Media, Mashable, Gizmodo Media, TechCrunch, Tegna, Aol, Scripps, The Daily Beast and others.

Our CEO and Founder Josh Payne put it best when he noted, “I couldn’t think of a more important landmark as we celebrate our seventh birthday as a company. Our mission is about serving the world’s creators, whether it be journalists creating content, brands creating products, software developers creating apps, or instructors creating online courses to share with the world. Our vision is that StackCommerce not only helps creators financially today, but fuels them to continue to innovate and grow for years to come.”

Looking forward, we’re excited to serve our creators in fresh, innovative ways, including through our recent launch of StackMedia. Our new performance-based native advertising arm leverages network data and partnerships to drive consumers directly to brands’ websites, rather than into publisher shops. We’re thrilled to announce an amazing list of launch partners, including Microsoft, Snap, HelloSign, Monday.com, Vincero, Arcadia Power, Helix, and dozens more. This new division truly rounds out our monetization toolkit, furthering our mission of serving content and product creators.

How to Maximize Revenue with StackMedia

How to Maximize Revenue with StackMedia

You have the perfect piece of content that speaks passionately to your readers. You add some amazing eye candy: lifestyle shots, an infographic, and a can’t-miss CTA button. You post to your homepage. And…crickets.

Even with an incredibly engaging article, you won’t generate a dollar in revenue if nobody sees it. These top tips and tricks, based on network-wide performance data, will help you maximize the success of your campaign using marketing tools already at your fingertips.

Let’s make the best campaign yet.

Share Your Content Via Email

Chances are that you likely send an email newsletter to your readers on a pretty regular cadence. Try featuring your StackMedia article(s) in an email send, even after it’s cycled off your homepage. Matching the article stylistically to the other featured articles and including it amongst related topics is a great way to add value to the overall reader experience, while making sure you meet your revenue goals, too. 

Grow Your Email List

Of course, the more email subscribers, the more potential clicks you’ll garner. That’s basic human reasoning, right? Here are some quick tips for building your email list.

-Add an email pop-up form to your homepage to capture more email addresses.

-Feature your newsletter sign-up in the HelloBar (pinned to the top of each page).

-Include a slide-in CTA that triggers as users scroll 50% down the page (there are easy plugins in WordPress).

Use Facebook Ads to Remarket

Paid Marketing is the most effective way to drive traffic to your sponsored content. If you’re not already doing it, you’ll want to focus in on the platforms where your target readers hang out — whether it be LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook. Google Ads are also a fantastic way to drive readers to your content. Not sure where to start?

Try Facebook Ads.

Tips for Using Paid Facebook Marketing:

-Launch your ads to a wide set of audiences starting with those closest to your brand. You can identify those audiences based on:

  • Page Likes
  • Friends Of Likes
  • FB Page Engagement
  • IG Page Engagement (if relevant)
  • 50%, 75%, Video Views (video is a great way to reach readers that know your brand, but may not actively ‘like’ it)
  • Lookalike Audiences — let Facebook do the heavy lifting 
  • Optimize on the “Traffic” conversion event at the campaign level. Facebook will find you the most traffic for the lowest cost.
  • A/B test your copy and creative to find what combinations drive the lowest CPC (Cost-Per-Click).

-Optimize your placement: if you see the majority and lowest cost traffic coming from a certain placement (newsfeed, audience network, or Instagram), you can deploy more budget to the highest performing placement.

-Set up retargeting: you can create ‘follow up’ ads for audiences that have seen your previous content or advertisements.

-Start small! Even running $25/day can provide a meaningful boost in your traffic!

Pin Your Content to Your Homepage and/or Article Recirculation Tool

Give your content the chance it deserves by pinning it to a highly-trafficked page like your homepage or within an article recirculation unit.

Share On Social Media

Use your social media profiles like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. to get fresh eyes on your content organically. After all, it’s free! Share across all platforms, and share often.

Make It Simple For Readers To Share Your Content

Here are some quick ways to make your content easily shareable:

-Add “Tweetable” blurbs to your content for easy posting on Twitter with a tool like Click to Tweet.

-Add “Pin It” buttons to visuals and infographics for easy sharing on Pinterest.

-Use SumoMe’s website add-on to create a social share button overlay for your image.

Promote Your Content On The HelloBar

Grant permission to your Account Manager to easily change out HelloBar text/links or change out the text on your own.

Update Relevant Content Pages with Links to StackMedia Content

Take advantage of relevant high-ranking articles covering similar topics by adding links to your sponsored content within the article. This quick update can make a significant difference.

Submit to a Content Community

Submit your StackMedia content to a relevant community like those listed below:

StackMedia connects marketers with targeted audiences across hundreds of publisher websites. Learn more about how our products can drive results here.

Introducing Brand Studio: Native Commerce Content Creation at Scale

Introducing Brand Studio: Native Commerce Content Creation at Scale

We’re proud to announce the launch of our in-house Brand Studio, the only fully-outsourced commerce content creation service on the market! We’ve worked with hundreds of publishers and media companies over the years, and found one universal challenge across the board: lack of editorial resources.

Yes, great writers and editors don’t grow on trees (and aren’t free). And while more and more publishers are finding groundbreaking success with native commerce, they continue to struggle when it comes to devoting editorial resources to commerce-related content creation. That’s where Brand Studio comes in.

Scalability Meets Versatility

Established to create quality editorial and video content at scale, Brand Studio delivers an average 5x return and has already helped publisher partners double their number of revenue generating commerce posts per week.

To date, Brand Studio has developed more than 6,000 original pieces of written and video content for over 40 partners including The Next Web, Popular Science and Gothamist. In order to support the growing demand, we’ve added a total of 20 talented writers, editors, and video specialists to the team. This passionate team of content creators has produced a wide array of content ranging from timely, snackable pieces to SEO-friendly evergreen content.

The Continued Rise of Commerce Content

BI Intelligence predicts that native content will be the fastest growing segment of the native ad market over the next 5 years. Yet despite this growth, many publishers lack the in-house resources to develop new native content on a daily basis. We’re thrilled to be able to address this gap by offering quality, engaging and fully-native articles and videos in a cost-efficient manner — and at scale.

We’ve seen first-hand the success of native content, which converts 50% better across our network than other distribution channels. We’ve also seen that partners that post commerce articles five to seven times per week earn on average 2.5x more revenue than those that post only infrequently or not at all. There’s huge opportunity here, and we’re committed to providing our partners with the required resources.

Native Content & Digg

For example, popular news aggregator, Digg, partnered with us for over a year before incorporating native content into their commerce strategy. The addition of engaging, topical commerce content via the Brand Studio resulted in a 40% boost in Digg’s conversion rate without leveraging internal editorial resources for content production.

“StackCommerce provides us with a seamless and scalable solution for producing commerce-focused editorial pieces with its Brand Studio. We’re happy to see Digg’s audience responding positively to the content.” noted Avery Driggers, Content Strategist and Commerce Lead at Digg.

Our own VP of Business Development, Ben Gafni, considers the launch of Brand Studio as a sign of maturation in the rapidly expanding commerce market, serving as a differentiator for StackCommerce moving forward.

“With the development of the Brand Studio, we’ve enabled a never-before tapped source of commerce for our publishers,” said Gafni.  “Our content team is able to creatively tell a brand story in a voice that is unique to each publisher, seamlessly adding value to their unique reader’s experience. While options like Skimlinks and Amazon Affiliates can be time-consuming, we are making commerce easy for publishers.”

Read the full press release here and reach out to your Account Manager for more information.

How to Create Compelling Commerce Content for Mother’s Day (No Matter Your Audience)

How to Create Compelling Commerce Content for Mother’s Day (No Matter Your Audience)

Mother’s Day is around the corner, which means shoppers are scrambling to not disappoint come May 14th. Whether you write commerce content for a tech publication or a female lifestyle blog, you should be using the holiday as an opportunity to cash in with native commerce.

Afterall, tech enthusiasts need to shop for Mother’s Day, too. So why not shop on the sites they read every day? Plus, Mother’s Day is the third largest retail holiday in the US, and also seemingly comes out of nowhere (wasn’t it just Valentine’s Day?). Help your readers out and share some awesome gift deals with these four tips:

Stress the Discount

Prices on everything from flowers to chocolate are notoriously inflated for Mother’s Day, and consumers are not ignorant to this fact. Write about amazing discounts (like this one) and help your readers get through the month without getting ripped off.

Think Out-Of-The-Box

Practically every mother enjoys fresh cut flowers, but that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t enjoy a GoPro or new headphones more. It’s 2017 – let’s not pretend that every mother has the same taste. Help your readers come up with some truly unique gifts that his or her mom will actually enjoy. As they say “it’s the thought that counts, but great gifts count for a whole lot more”. Nobody actually says that, but you get the point.

Target (Or Help Out, Rather) Procrastinators

Mother’s Day tends to sneak up on us, and this leaves many people scouring the grocery store for the last bouquet of flowers. Help your readers out with some great last minute gift options for moms near or far. Ideas likes wine subscription boxes, local flower delivery or a subscription to a service like Audible can be great, last-minute options.

Stay Mindful with Your Commerce Content

Rule number one for creating commerce content for Mother’s Day is remembering that every family is different. Don’t be quick to make assumptions about the reader. Chances are there is a mother, whether it be a wife, sister, friend, etc., in the reader’s life, but it may not be in the traditional sense. Holidays bring up emotions – so be sensitive with your language.