Commercial content as a building block for post-cookies for publishers – ADZINE

Saying goodbye to third-party cookies has been hanging over the advertising industry for years like the sword of Damocles. The limitations of new or revised data protection laws do the rest to shake up the business model of many publishers. Retargeting in particular is likely to be one of the disciplines that will suffer in the future, reserved primarily for e-commerce as a media client. So how can publishers take back this business with retailers who are among the biggest donors in the German media business? One of the trends that is flooding the big pond and giving hope is commercial content.



Commercial content includes the creation of content for those who want to shop, such as tests, price comparisons or instructions to then monetize them through affiliate activities. It sounds like a classic affiliate business at first. What’s new, however, is that traditional news publishers are also jumping into fashion and are increasingly relying on technology to earn points with e-commerce customers.

Commercial content as an important source of income

Image: Ad Alliance
Karsten Jentsch, Ad Alliance

“Commercialization of editorial content is not new in itself, but it has grown in importance,” said Karsten Jentsch, general manager of e-commerce, content and partner operations for Ad Alliance. “The two effects of the crown pandemic are certainly also evident here: on the one hand, consumers have become more and more habituated to online shopping over the past two years, and on the other hand, consumers have become much more sensitive to the placement and tone of advertising messages.” Commercial content combines these two aspects and also results in a shopping experience like traditional retail – for example in terms of advice in the form of product comparisons or test reports. However, it is important to consider if and how it is used in news outlets, says Jentsch.

Basically, moderate commercial content with added value for the user is an increasingly important source of income – especially for high-quality journalism. “It is definitely a building block in the monetization of our digital reach and therefore also an important part of the Ad Alliance activities. At RTL Deutschland, we have developed our own content commerce strategies over the years that take into account all of our experience – from classic advertising sales to knowledge of our user base and experience in creating high-quality content, explains Karsten Jentsch. “Therefore, there are two streams of activities to be met: digital content related to purchases should, on the one hand, help users make a purchase decision, and on the other hand, should be created and integrated in such a way that they have a sales -promotional impact on our partners “In Ad Alliance, this is handled by a team with experience in affiliate business, e-commerce and content marketing, who work closely with editorial departments as well as product, business and SEO departments.

Not so bad targeting restrictions?

Photo: Stroer
Sven Scheffler, Ströer

At least another publisher, Ströer, does not seem to be particularly urgent when it comes to commercial content. “Basically, we share the idea that software development marketing will change significantly with the expiry of third party cookies. Nevertheless, we still believe in the power of targeted ad and content targeting and are working intensively to be able to continue to effectively offer this to our advertising reader and customer end users using alternative identification systems and IDless targeting models, ”says Sven Scheffler, COO of Ströer Content Group Operations . Even if there have been no negative effects so far, you should of course be prepared here.

One can imagine a shift in the advertising market towards contextual marketing, but certainly also towards commercial content. “This is nothing new and we have been doing it with great success at T-Online for years. In any case, we have always attached great importance to extensive cooperation and integration with numerous purchasing partners such as Otto, Lidl or Tchibo. In addition, we have significantly expanded the topic of affiliates on all Ströer portals in recent years, ”explains Scheffler. According to Scheffler, the basis is high-quality user advice in editorial product tests, buying advice or bargain price tips.

Advertising technology provides help

Photo: Raimar von Wienskowski
Tobias Conrad, Yieldkit

Meanwhile, on the adtech side, people are hard at work on new tools for commercial content – and there is interest. “Publishers’ demand for commercial content tools and commercial content in general as a strategic direction has grown significantly in the last 18 months,” notes Tobias Conrad, CCO and Co-Managing Director of Hamburg-based advertising firm Yieldkit. “Publishers are particularly interested in how they can create a good basis for marketing with their content, which they have the ability to link their content natively with advertisers and networks – and thus to improve their content, not lower its quality.” However, there has also been an increase in demand from advertisers wanting to know how the tools can be used so that publishers can direct users directly to their stores without having to go through the markets.

Photo: Sovrn
Michael Zeisler, Sovrn

The trend towards commercial content has also been seen for a long time for American gamer Sovrn. Finally, he is strongly expelled from abroad. “The development in recent years towards consistently enforced data protection, which we are very happy about and closely related to the impending end of third party cookies, is a huge challenge for the advertising industry, especially for independent publishers. Commercial content that focuses on affiliate marketing is a promising leverage for publishers to diversify their income streams, ”says Michael Zeisler, Sovrn Regional Director. In his experience, some publishers have already developed a strategy and are testing commercial content, while others are just starting to take advantage of this new revenue stream.

It is not obvious why adtech companies in particular can and should get involved in this. However, Tobias Conrad has a solid reason for this: “Commercial content is data-driven, and advertising companies know very well which data is relevant for measuring conversions, how to optimize the user’s journey based on data, and with what commercial content the tools to obtain the best CTR and desired results. ” According to Conrad, publishers with less digital knowledge in particular benefit from the experience and technological know-how of adtech specialists.

Sovrn focuses mainly on two aspects when developing tools to help publishers. “We are clearly guided by the theme of the user experience. We want to create a positive experience with all of our solutions, ”says Zeisler. It is also about data quality. “As publishers increasingly use commercial content, it is very important that products advertised through affiliate links are actually available and properly priced.” Adtech can help with this as well.

The agency’s website is critical

There is a common perception in the marketplace that Commerce Content will at least partially absorb the retargeting business that is about to fail. The publishers have already taken the course and adtech companies are ready. A slightly different picture is drawn by the demand of the agency, which deals, among others, with

Image: Crowd Media
Sven-Olaf Peeck, Crowd Media

At least there is agreement on the need for diversification on the part of publishers: “For most publishers, risk-free premium CPM or fixed-price marketing has been just an urban myth since the dawn of the Internet. Most of them are now very broadly positioned when it comes to monetization, says Sven-Olaf Peeck, Managing Director of Crowd Media. “If retargeting does not work as usual anymore, you need to compensate for the associated loss in revenue. Alternative content such as product testing that is monetized with affiliate funds may be possible. However, this is not new, as publishers have long been driven by the number of searches. “Commercial content” sounds like a pretty name to me that is supposed to magically solve the revenue problem. “

The real problem is that affiliates like Check24 have accumulated a lot of knowledge over the years compared to news publishers. “So it certainly won’t be an easy task,” said Peeck. “Titles like Bild will have an easier time as a brand than special interest titles because they are not destined to be caught in a technical trading pond like Chip.”

Will advertising and partners fight for advertising space in the future?

Such statements do not scare Michael Zeisler from Sovrn. “In the future, ads and affiliates will compete with each other for user attention,” he predicts. “It’s important not to run in separate silos, but rather to pool the data and use it across all revenue streams. I imagine the partner placement will compete with the bidding header ad based on predicted CPM, ”says Zeisler confidently.

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