Getting readers to make the leap from consuming an article about the 10 best oyster restaurants in New York to getting out their credit card to buy a blazer or pair of pants is actually asking quite a lot.
There’s often friction in the typical content/commerce experience, Wachob said.
“But the classes are content in and of themselves, premium content that people will pay for because it’s an extension of what they’re already doing,” he said. “They can read an article about meditation and then learn how to meditate. But if you’re reading a piece of content on a culture site, it’s hard to know if the pants they’re trying to sell you will be any good.”
Around 25% of Mindbodygreen’s revenue comes from selling access to online video classes.
The bulk of its remaining revenue comes from branded content. Wachob forswears programmatic and third-party selling in favor of direct deals with advertisers such as Nike, Target, InterContinental Hotels Group and Pepsi’s One Coconut Water.
And Mindbodygreen’s editorial team is heavily involved with the branded content it produces.
“There are no walls for us,” said Wachob, who claims that sponsored content often garners better engagement than some of the organic pieces on the site. “We’ve found that people don’t care if the content is branded or not as long as it’s good.”
Athleisure apparel brand Kit & Ace, which was founded in 2014 by the former lead designer of Lululemon Athletica, has collaborated with Mindbodygreen on a number of branded content pieces written by influencers in the Mindbodygreen community.
Although the articles allow readers to “buy the look” by clicking on embedded images, sales aren’t a KPI, said Braden Hoeppner, head of brand and ecommerce at Kit & Ace.
“It’s top-of-the-funnel marketing for us, a way to spread brand awareness and introduce Kit & Ace to people, often for the first time, in a positive context,” he said. “If you’re consuming a story, you’re probably not going to immediately shift to shopping mode, but if you like what you see and you click, that opens our ecommerce site in another tab, and maybe you start browsing, maybe you sign up for our email list and we can start retargeting you in other channels.”
Content and commerce is part of a continuum, Hoeppner said, rather than commerce acting as an immediate catalyst for the sale.
“We don’t think about it from a last-click perspective and it’s not about driving direct response,” he said. “It’s part of a media-mix ecosystem while doing what we can to make it that much easier for consumers to get to our website.”