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!