Last week, CJ hosted over 100 advertisers and publishers at the upscale rooftop bar, cloudM New York Bowery.
The vibrant and modern décor paired with the stunning 360-degree views of Manhattan made the perfect setting for an evening of drinks, delicious food, networking, and learning.
We kicked the event off with an hour of mixing and mingling exclusively for content and mass media publishers to connect with their peers face-to-face and discuss how they're navigating the affiliate space. Soon after, other publisher models as well as advertisers joined in on the networking fun to make this our most well-attended regional event to date.
The highlight of the event? Our fireside chat with thought leaders Condé Nast, Avon, and Discovery Inc. The topic? How to leverage data to create deeper relationships with partners and increase investment in the affiliate channel.
The panel, moderated by CJ’s Business Development Director, Gabrielle Hess, included these thought-provoking speakers: Emily Noszkay, Director of Commerce at Condé Nast; Lynn Luong, Avon’s Director of Digital Marketing; and Chris Mainenti, Director of Commerce Strategy at Discovery Digital Studios. Our panelists shared their thoughts on the broad discussion of performance marketing and where the industry is headed.
Put Your Audience First
Discovery Digital Studios, the owner of well-known brands such as Discovery, Food Network, HGTV, and DIY Network—is hyper-focused on finding the right content for each brand. They put a lot of energy behind understanding what each audience segment wants in order to determine the spark that will push readers to take out their wallets.
“We really do believe [when you] put the reader first, the money will follow,” said Chris. “We’ll talk to brands and see what they have to offer, but we have a very strong filter everyone goes through. Our voice and our authority are key in all of this. We don’t want to shy away from that; we don’t want to push things just to make a quick buck. It's taking those learnings and working with our ad sales business and some other areas of the business to show them the list of really strong partners that we have—and how can we really blow this out across all of our different revenue streams.”
Strike a Balance with Content
When asked about the need to attach an ROI to the top of the funnel where the budget for content might normally sit with PR or other channels, Avon says that “balance is key”. They find balance by working closely with internal teams and publishers to create great content to help promote product innovation.
In terms of the content opportunities Avon has invested in, Lynn added, “Of course, we want to see an immediate return, but it’s going to take some time to establish that relationship and be top of mind. That’s something I’m always trying to balance out, especially since I get a lot of push from leadership and finance to see a return. [It is crucial] to work together internally and with publishers to identify who we’re trying to reach, the content we want to promote and to make sure that message is really clear.”
Condé Nast shared about the exciting transition from being a heavy top-of-funnel player focused on “selling influence and branding and setting trends” to building a commerce team and strategy that proves they can drive millions of lower-funnel conversions. They’ve seen that advertisers still want that element of influence, but ROAS is becoming more and more important—it’s been a challenge to figure out an offering for partners that drives both.
“At the same time,” Emily said, “I think as an industry, affiliate is going to start to think about what is ahead of that last click. For us personally, we would love to work with retailers and networks that can show us what happened before that last click because we know we have so much influence further up in the funnel, we just don’t have a ton of insight into what that is. From that, we hope that we’ll be able to get smarter internally and understand what we can sell to our advertisers that really makes sense for them. I think the industry is also going to have to grow with us.”
Use Data to Work Smarter
Discovery works with their ad sales team to create hybrid opportunities that take the big exposure opportunities that would normally come from ad sales and merge them with the commerce side. They leverage data and insights to focus on the content formats that work best for them from a pure editorial standpoint, such as social video. They then bring that together with commerce to maximize efforts and ultimately make money for both themselves and their partners. Discovery places great importance on marrying content insights and pure revenue insights along with all insights from across the business such as newsletter metrics, SEO, etc.
Chris expanded, “When we go to a partner and say ‘we want to do something really big with you guys’ we know how to send optimized content out of the gate vs trying to do a bunch of brainstorming and testing. While that will always be a thing, at least when we go out there, the foundation is in place and we build upon that.”
Avon has investigated new ways to target their audience by sharing audience CRM data with CJ to target specific offers to customers with a high intent to purchase. Lynn explains how they focus on a personalized approach, “Everyone deserves a unique experience. We have the data to understand what the customer wants; we know what type of offers and products a customer responds to—which means that advertising dollars are going exactly where they should go.”
At CJ, we strive to facilitate strategic partnerships and offer innovative technologies that allow for better business decisions and smarter investment into the affiliate channel. We were thrilled to share such a great evening—and an incredible NYC sunset!—with our partners. We look forward to future events in a city near you!