Just because niche publishers don’t chase scale, doesn’t mean their metrics aren’t important. What can these publishers do to help their advertisers understand metrics better?
Samantha Skey, President and CRO at SheKnows, owner of brands including BlogHer and HelloFlo, told Parse.ly how the SheKnows network thinks about metrics. As Skey says, “Our challenge is to parse the relative value of everything you can track.”
What Brands Want to Know About the HelloFlo Audience
Skey pointed to the SheKnows brand HelloFlo as an example of how audience engagement metrics can combine with innovative product placement to create great results for advertisers.
HelloFlo’s editorial team focuses on making menstruation, and all that goes along with it, a topic to normalize and celebrate. Their mission states, “We can’t change biology but we can make it more fun.” The articles themes address women across different age groups about their periods, sex, pregnancy and fertility, parenting, and menopause. Titles include How Working in an Environment that Provided Free Feminine Hygiene Products Impacted my Career and How to Talk about Porn with your Kids.
Skey reports that brands and advertisers want to see a variety of data when they run campaigns on HelloFlo, including time on site, visitor behavior and navigation, and reactions through shares, likes, and comments. “They’re really trying to understand how their brands are being received,” she says.
A branded content video created by HelloFlo and Kotex encapsulates how engagement metrics matter to brands and advertisers. The prime indication that their funny, original “Aunt Flo” video was successful came from tracking views to completion and social shares. Skey explains:
“When I get enthusiastic about that piece and contemplate its success, it has a lot to do with video views. That for us and for most advertisers and publishers connotes engagement, especially when you’re sharing it—when a large amount of the views are generated through horizontal propagation, or kind of user-to-user through social platforms. That’s something we’re really proud of because you’re inspiring women to actually share this video with their friend, which is a really positive endorsement.”
“Kits for Your Ladybits”
Ultimately though, what her consumer goods advertisers want is to drive retail outcomes.
While metrics help HelloFlo tell the story in terms of brand awareness and audience engagement, the company’s foray into e-commerce has had success by tying in advertising products directly with cleverly curated e-commerce packs like the “New Mom Survival Kit” and the “Period Starter Deluxe Kit.”
By combining the editorial voice of the site with the products of the advertisers, Skey says that buyers are more likely to try a new product or remember to buy the brand when they’re standing in the aisle at the drugstore.
Skey says, “The boxes are an excellent down-funnel activity…. There is absolutely a correlation between productivity of the content and likelihood to register and become a subscriber to HelloFlo.”
Valuing Metrics Beyond the Impression
Skey notes, “It’s interesting to see that over twenty plus years, the impression and the click still rule the day.”
Recently we conducted a survey that found at an organizational level, brands are essentially focused on measuring these kinds of pageview metrics, while individuals are more focused on engagement metrics. The disconnect between which metrics individuals and organizations are looking to measure suggests a shift is underway.
Collaboration between editorial, marketing, and advertising teams helps SheKnows brands align on goals and the metrics that reflect productivity. Skey stresses the importance of “a marriage between editorial and branded content to ensure we’re conveying the attributes of the advertiser while also representing authentically the SheKnows or StyleCaster or HelloFlo voice.”
Impressions has precedence as an important metric in an ad-based model, but as SheKnows found from creating innovative products with advertising partners, engagement metrics provide critical audience insights for driving revenue opportunities.