Mazola Oil Cooks Up Native Campaigns, Video On Womensforum.com

MazolaWomensLike other vertical content networks, Womensforum.com cornered a niche early – women’s health, beauty and entertainment – and cultivated an audience that today totals nearly 40 million unique monthly visitors.

The publisher has worked with household brands ranging from Sweet’NLow to Mazola Cooking Oil to “craft customized programs” that resonate with its female-based audience.

In the process, Womensforum has ramped up its video and native offerings. Although programmatic “may play a part in execution,” Mark Kaufman, CEO of Womensforum said the publisher’s immediate priority is packaging its inventory in creative ways for marketers.

Kaufman and Mike Shehorn, brand manager for Mazola, spoke with AdExchanger about the evolution of native content and where programmatic fits in when advertising on Womensforum.com.

AdExchanger: Womensforum.com has a growing video production unit called Studio444. Why is video production a priority?

MARK KAUFMAN: Video is only one piece of the puzzle. The video content itself has to be supported by distribution and that’s where our base of (close to) 40 million unique viewers comes in. They’re not only coming to our site to consume videos but we also distribute them out through our community of bloggers, social media, etc. Text is not gone. We have some native sponsorships and articles that help get Mazola Oil's message out in addition to video.

You can’t replace written content when you need to get the facts out about mitigating high cholesterol. Video is taking center stage in all our campaigns, but it’s also supported by native content, blogs, social media and of course we still have display ads.

Can you expand on your work with Mazola?

MK: Mazola and their agency Maxus wanted us to be as genuine as possible [when promoting the health benefits of corn oil], which is an idea that’s new to most consumers about their cholesterol-managing capabilities. We included Mazola in our content without really putting it in the face of the consumer. We have one custom video we produced that is a recipe. Mazola is a key ingredient as the oil in the grilled chicken recipe, but it’s more subtlety placed [in Womensforum.com series The Fit Fix.] . It’s [similar to] a product placement position on television. Another execution simply has them sponsoring a series of tips for very busy women on everyday fitness.

MIKE SHEHORN: When we look at the goals for this particular campaign, we were looking for women to rely on Mazola Corn Oil in preparing healthier meals for their families. We found out in recent research that Mazola Corn Oil has more cholesterol-blocking plant phenyls than other cooking oils. Womensforum.com understood our brand priorities and that positioning from the beginning, and were able to give us really unique insights into the digital habits of this particular segment. With them, we created a unique digital platform to help active women and their families with a healthier lifestyle [called] Pantry Pal. Since this is a first-to-market opportunity for us, we’re really learning as we go.

What success metrics are you using?

MS: The reach, the types of audiences and how effective your message is tailored to that audience. [The Pantry Pal app received more than 1 million impressions during its first month of launch.]

MK: The key metric [for] video is completion rate and we [ensure they’re hitting their audience targets] predominantly through comScore Validated Campaign Essentials (vCE).

What does the rest of Mazola’s media mix look like?

MS: We leverage a broad range of tactics to get the right messages across to the right people in the right place, so we split our media efforts across channels, from traditional TV to digital platforms like Womensforum.com. TV continues to offer the greatest reach for our health claim. It gets our message front and center in front of millions of people a day. Digital, however, allows us to reach consumers in a more interactive manner through our recipes in a way that resonates further. Frankly we’re looking forward to seeing how Pantry Pal will help drive women to adopt corn oil as their kitchen companion for the recipes they want to make.

What’s Womensforum’s position on programmatic?

MK: I certainly understand programmatic’s benefit for scale and efficiencies for brands and agencies. But as far as our inventory and audience goes, and the depth and breadth and complexity of the human executions of this Mazola campaign, these are not things you will buy through a trading desk. Programmatic is certainly part of the mix – you can get your tonnage, reach and optimize performance. But I don’t think you’re going to get a custom video series, native content or an interactive Pantry Pal this way. Where [programmatic] manifests is we have several brand partners interested in buying us through private exchanges.

Depending on how one defines programmatic buying, it may play a role as part of an execution, but right now we’re really charged with taking the most effective piece of our audience and inventory and offering that to the marketer.

Do you have a DMP and what are you using for an ad server?

MK: We have a hybrid solution, and we are working with Krux. This is combination of their infrastructure capabilities and of course – from the audience and marketer publishing side – our customization and use of it. It’s not just a vehicle to better target ads, but as a means to understand the content our audience is interested in. It’s rather nascent, and we’re making it actionable as we go.

What have you learned so far?

MK: We’re [identifying] our readers’ favorite videos, her favorite articles and what she does as she moves across our site and community of bloggers. To date, we’ve been able to use our own footprint to reach a sizable audience of moms on the go or other women. We use DoubleClick For Publishers to serve the pre-roll portion of the ads and are working with a video distribution platform called JW Player as the technical backbone to physically distribute our videos.

As we roll out a Savvy Shoppers platform, now we’re getting directly in to shopping behavior we can cross-analyze with viewing actions and content consumption.

What is Savvy Shoppers?

MK: Escalate Media (the ad network merged with Womensforum.com in 2013 and both companies were rolled into private equity firm H.I.G. Capital's portfolio) had a large shopper marketing, consumer promotion and blogger network of shopping experts with millions of fans and followers who make recommendations on products, purchases, shopping techniques and tips, and savings ideas.

We’ve been working on a CPM-based program with a branding focus and content integration [since 1996], and now I have at my disposal this vehicle that reaches primarily the grocery shopper in the path to purchase.

We call that platform Savvy Shoppers. In our discussions with brands, we [can offer] shopper marketing executions, where we are helping with consumer promotions, coupon downloads and getting that message out to the consumer as she makes her shopping decisions. We even have some ecommerce executions, so we’re closing the loop on the path to purchase.

Does Mazola incorporate CRM or loyalty data in these ecommerce executions?

MK: These are things the retailer guards, but we’re finding our brands are participating in consumer insights studies customized to them for particular programs. This is where you’re really getting consumer sentiments for the same audience that has been consuming the content and related ads. This is not a brand study mechanism.

I learned a long time ago it’s really hard to tell an audience what to do and you more or less have to learn what those behaviors are. I always envisioned polls and surveys, but until we had a merger with Escalate Media, which had access to millions of active shoppers, I didn’t have the people to ask those questions to. It’s also asking them in the moment when they’re making a decision. It was taking advantage of organic audience activity and harnessing that as a way to support brands.

 

 

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