Thursday afternoon Martech Record convened a group of publishing industry innovators. Lynda Mann, SVP of Commerce at Digital Trends forged her career at The Wirecutter and helped build it into the business that was acquired by the New York Times and is now applying her lessons learned at Digital Trends. George Whitfield, Founder of FindOurView used his PhD from MIT to build out an AI tool to read and summarize thousands of reviews into simple, credible language. And Walter Haas took his experience working in all forms of digital marketing to found GIST, a platform that creates trust in the digital shopping experience through social recommendations.
Thank you to our sponsor Upsellit, who sets a great example by pushing the industry forward through innovation.
The webinar was inspired by our recent conversation with industry investors, who declared that we are in the top of the first inning of industry growth, implying that there is a ton of innovation ahead of us.
If this was the case, we wanted to find the people that are driving innovation, and George, Walter and Lynda were the perfect group.
Each panelist agreed that certain barriers were both inhibitors to affiliate industry growth and where the opportunities lie.
The webinar outlined four themes, each dependent on each other, required for commerce content to recognize its potential.
The first theme is Innovation. Affiliate networks and platforms need to improve their platforms for publishers. Publishers need more insight into the value of their content and their alignment with advertisers. Also, the culture and structure of publishers needs to innovate. Gone are the days when content and commerce were intentionally separate, but we’ve yet to come to a structural norm that the marketplace accepts and trust.
The second theme is curation of content. Walter Haas made the point that e-commerce is still very much a one to one experience, rather than a curated one. Digital marketers still tend to think in terms of an individual sale instead of shopping as an experience where you discover new things. We have not yet replaced the experience of the mall, where we go to see what’s new and what our friends are up to.
The third theme is credibility. Once we have content curated for us, we want to trust the content. Online content still has a huge credibility challenge. George pointed out that we’re still learning how to read and write reviews, but as the industry and people mature we will get better at knowing what to trust (and so will his AI).
And Lynda helped us understand the fourth theme: authenticity. Just because content is credible does not mean it the right voice for each publisher. Credible content has to have a single voice aligns with the publisher brand, or even credible content won’t be believed.
Innovation, curation, credibility and authenticity are collectively a strong roadmap for any publisher to follow. Once you have those you can apply innovative new products that help the industry scale, like FindOurView, GIST and more that are being developed right now.
Click here to listen to the webinar with our sincere apologies that half of the webinar was cut off and not recorded. Thankfully the best half was recorded.