Leaders of content-to-commerce initiatives at three global news media companies shared in-depth looks at how those projects started and how they are doing with attendees at INMA’s Virtual World Congress.
Here is a brief look at each from Friday’s session:
Times Internet, The Times of India
Two years ago, about 90% of Times Group’s revenue came from ads. Now, 70% is from ads and the other 30% comes from transactions and subscriptions, Gautam Sinha, CEO of Times Internet, said. By 2023, the company aims for advertising to account from 45% of revenue, with the rest coming from subscriptions and transactions. This will give the company more direct-to-consumer relationships as opposed to advertising, which is dependent on the broad economy of the country.
“When we don’t have a direct relationship, the revenues get compromised when the larger economy goes through an up and down in that period,” Sinha said.
Sinha shared two content-to-commerce brands Times Internet has seen revenue and engagement success with:
- MensXP: MensXP is a Times Internet men’s lifestyle platform with 40 million monthly active users across the country. Times Group researched gaps in the men’s grooming category, and built brands and products in-house to serve these gaps, Because the company built these products itself, it sees a 70%+ margin, which is much higher margin than other affiliate revenue. Young men love this product and can now purchase durable and stylish clothes, and beauty and grooming products.
- Gadgets Now: This is similar to other products in that it drives affiliate marketing around gadgets based on high-quality content. Gadgets Now actually started with content, then had transaction layers added. Gadgets Now moved the needle of monetisation for Times Group, funneling existing users through a new monetisation layer. The property entirely lends itself to search and has grown to No. 1 in the country in terms of reach and monetisation.
Wirecutter, The New York Times
Wirecutter is a 9-year-old product review Web site owned by The New York Times Company that focuses on writing detailed guides to different consumer product categories and offering recommendations on the best products. Generating revenue from affiliate commissions, Wirecutter is less reliant on traditional advertising.
Wirecutter’s air purifier guide provides one example of what it means to the Times to have the consumer trust it will deliver on its mission to serve readers. Air purifiers have grown more popular in recent years, especially with all the wildfires.
“Readers have really come to us to try to figure out, with all the different options out there, what they should buy,” Linda Li, general manager of Wirecutter, said. “This is not an inexpensive product.”
The Times Guide reporter did extensive, long-term, real-world testing on a variety of different models. He literally lived with the products in his home and tested them in the office, Li explained.
The guide provides extensive information on the product, as well as the research that went into it and how the guide was formed. The thorough guide answers reader questions such as:
- Why they should trust Wirecutter.
- What an air purifier can do for them.
- Can HEPA air purifiers capture coronavirus?
- How Wirecutter chose and tested the products.
- The Wirecutter pick: Coway AP-1512HH Mighty.
- Runner-up, upgrade, and budget picks.
- The worst purifier tested.
- Answers about how the product works.
- The competition.
- What to look forward to with the product.
“Through the testing experience, [the guide] gathered a lot of data,” Li said. “I wanted to illustrate how much we talk about the testing product [to consumers]. We also talk about the flaws. Readers want to know what’s not working well. Even with the best products, they aren’t perfect, especially with different readers or for different uses.”
This thorough guide providers readers with a well-rounded description of what they would be buying.
Mansion Global, News Corp
Mae Cheng, publisher and editor, presented three of Mansion Global’s newer products that are helping drive growth: Branded content, high-end experiences, and virtual open houses.
In an era of social distancing and stay-in-place mandates, listing agents weren’t able to show property. The solution Mansion Global created was to provide virtual open houses, which was offered as an upgrade to their listings offering.
Agents could buy in for a page of their own to promote, by video, the homes they were showing. It was popular with agents and would-be home buyers alike, Cheng said. “A lot more consumers wanted to engage, and we were able to figure out smart traffic drivers to drive traffic and, in essence, showcase the video listings.”
Cheng explained the virtual experience is more about inviting a customer to build a relationship with the advertisers.
“It’s hard to imagine that anyone sees a $20 million home and buys it,” she said. “But … buyers or sellers come in contact with advertisers and begin a relationship-building situation. They may not buy that house but will buy another one down the line.”
The Congress continues on Tuesday with a module featuring 11 case studies from COVID-19 brand building initiatives. Register here for individual sessions or the entire Congress (the latter includes access to this and previous sessions).
Banner photo courtesy of Bongkarn Thanyaki and Engin Akyurt from Pixabay.