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Content Lives On According to Webinar Panelists

“Content lives on,'' said NBC Universal Media’s Hallie Gellman.

It may sound like a rallying cry, but indicates that quality content can generate performance across time and medium, and requires different approaches for each.

Key takeaways from January 27th Martech Record Webinar, The Intersection of Content & Commerce:

  • Quality content is versatile and can be leveraged across time and medium

  • Advertisers are encouraged to align brand values with editorial missions to become storytellers.

  • Editorial partners can be good marketing consultants

  • Creating incentives for sales teams to work together is crucial to publisher success

  • Advertisers were encouraged to push networks and platforms to share data with publishers

  • Stream the webinar here. email publisher@martechrecord for access code

Wednesday's discussion was made possible thanks to the support of Impact.

The intersection of commerce and content. Just a few years ago the idea that editors at reputable content publications would entertain a meeting with their sales team was anathema to their sensibilities. And for good reason, a century of publishing best practices had been established. And those best practices created value. Digital description has fundamentally changed the publishing landscape and forced publishers to innovate and experiment with new models. Yesterday’s webinar clarified that we are past the Rubicon, but not yet arrived on the opposite bank where clear best practices exist.

Hallie Gellman of NBC Universal Media and Jessica Spria of Ziff Davis shared their experience building new commerce businesses from legacy content providers with Moderator Tom Rathbone of PartnerCentric.. The webinar was an effort to share best practices and help the industry grow.

The focus was often on the balance between editorial integrity and commercial interest. There was consensus that upholding the integrity of the publishing brand and serving the audience created more value in the long run. “Trying to understand the balance between editorial integrity and business interests is a big part of our day.” Said Gellmen. “I like to say I work for our editors. Whatever I can do to serve them and our audience by ensuring the demand we get from advertisers is in line with what our editors and our audience wants is vital.”

“To be successful content has to align with the publisher brand mission” she added.

While this is easy to understand, it is more difficult in practice. Jessica Spira spoke to internal challenges including sales conflict, and concluded that if you build the right incentive structures sales will happily work together, noting that Ziff Davis incents sales teams to work together.

After building a successful commerce content business, the friction is now on the advertiser side. Spira said the friction point is educating advertisers about what that means to be involved in an affiliate program on a publisher site that is editorially driven. “You want to have editorial integrity, so there may be a brand that wants a review and that doesn’t happen if the editorial team says no. That product does not always align with our brand or editorial focus and that is where you see friction in the market.” She advised brands to think about how their brand attributes aligned with the editorial mission.

Both Spira and Gellman agreed that versatility of commerce content allows publishers to provide additional value and encouraged advertisers to use their content publishers as consultants. They have the ability to “go top to button” to get performance holistically. “We have enough experience to tell advertisers what type of content and deals work. We can provide insight from a merchandising perspective. Content will perform differently, but you can get performance holistically.”

Hallie added “We’re creating experiences, we survey our audience to really understand what they want. There are a lot of ways to integrate brands into content, but at the end of the day it is about making sure the brand is aligned with the audience and finding ways to creatively loop brands in that are interested in testing and expanding their reach to our audience”

Saying that “content lives on” Gellman reminded affiliate managers that quality content has a long life span and when evaluating partnerships with legacy providers the conversion tail is longer “we are able to make sure content has legs beyond a specific campaign. Noting that some campaigns grow in conversations over time due to SEO improvements and other promotions.

Jessica agrees, saying brands will often leverage the content in their own promotions.

Gellman concluded that publishing “is storytelling and a narrative” and content is the tool that allows you to do that in a much deeper way.

The panelists concluded by noting that the better affiliate marketers are at telling a story, the more likely they’ll be successful working with content publishers.

There were a number of excellent questions that could not be answered because of time. Join the Martech Record Slack channel to continue the discussion. (apply for access by sending an email to

In conjunction with the sponsorship of the webinar, Impact commissioned a sponsored content article. It is worth noting that the article, though commercial in nature adheres to much of the advice of the webinar panelists. You are encouraged to read it here.

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