This is part ten in our series on content syndication.
Syndication forms only a small part of the services offered by CNET Content Solutions (CCS). While most of the division's resources are focused on its product database, the company does offer ContentCast, a syndication service that delivers manufacturers' branded content to retailer and partner websites. For more about CNET Content Solutions, check out our overview.
Content Ping recently caught up with Eli Marcus, Senior Director of Products for CNET Content Solutions, to find out more about what CCS is doing to help customers maintain brand integrity.
Content Ping: What sets CNET Content Solutions apart from its competitors?
Eli Marcus: CNET Content Solutions, or CCS, is different from its competitors in that we offer a holistic solution to e-commerce content. While most competitors focus on a specific segment of the content landscape, CCS offers a complete set of services that include underlying product data from our flagship product DataSource, tools such as Product Finders and Product Selectors to help customers find the right product to purchase, and rich product page content from the manufacturer--such as interactive logos, product information, images, and videos--delivered from our ContentCast platform directly to the product page.
Content Ping: What does this mean for your manufacturing customers looking for syndication? What do they get from ContentCast that they wouldn't get from the competition?
Eli Marcus: Manufacturers who work with CNET get a partner that can deliver a holistic solution to their retailers--core data, selector tools, rich content, and incorporated editorial reviews all from a single provider. And because CNET has long been a trusted name in the IT industry, retailers are more apt to participate in content adoption from manufacturers who work with us.
The challenge for manufacturers is maintaining brand integrity across partners, increasing scalability of marketing assets across the channel without adding resources, and tracking which online activities are working and which ones are not.
CNET also offers some unique services no one else in the market can match. Having a huge core database of product content allows us to provide creative mapping services, like identifying all the products in the marketplace that have a certain attribute and then tying targeted rich content to those products.
Content Ping: Can you give a specific example of this?
Eli Marcus: We have an existing relationship with Microsoft where we provide an online logo that identifies if a product comes preinstalled with Microsoft software and encourages the user to purchase a full version of the license. CCS uses our DataSource database to determine which products should carry the logo, our ContentCast service to serve the interactive logo to retailers, and the CNET name to reassure Microsoft partners that the content is being delivered by a trusted third party. The result: all parties are happy because the program helps increase the attach rate, or up-sell, of the recommended software.
Content Ping: What kind of lift in conversion rates do your customers see using CCS products?
Eli Marcus: Customers who use DataSource have recognized that managing the core data on hundreds of thousands of products is something they need to outsource. Rather then looking at conversion, think of DataSource as a foundational piece of a website's infrastructure. Customers use DataSource to stock their virtual shelves with data, build search options, and offer product comparison tools. These functions are all foundational to successful e-commerce.
CCS helps e-commerce sites provide sales assistance to customers with Product Selectors and Product Finders. Product Selectors help customers find aftermarket accessories, such as the correct ink or toner for their printer or the correct memory upgrade for their computer system. Product Finders help a customer narrow their search within categories such as tablets or TVs. Product Finders assist users by asking them to identify features that are important to them and providing CNET Buying Guides that explain which features are the most important and which ones can usually be ignored. Recently a reseller implemented our Product Finders for a two-month period during the holiday season and reported that over $1 million of sales resulted from the system. The holiday trial was so successful that the reseller has subscribed to all of our sales tools.
ContentCast delivers rich manufacturer assets directly to the webpage, while DataSource provides a foundation of data that is indexable, searchable, and enables partners to create the navigational structure of their site.
ContentCast helps increase conversion by providing rich content to the product page. We have three distinct components that we deliver to the product page: Inline Content, Logo Service, and Explore Product. Inline Content provides rich content directly in the text on the product page and is shown to the user 100 percent of the time on appropriate products. Logo Service is an interactive manufacturer logo displayed directly with the appropriate product, providing detailed manufacturer content when hovered over. The logo is shown 100 percent of the time and, depending on the program, achieves an interaction rate between 8 percent and 30 percent. Finally, we support Explore Product, a manual click-through window of rich content, for sites that won’t take the other types of content.
Content Ping: What are the major content-related challenges facing manufacturers and e-tailers going forward?
Eli Marcus: The challenges for manufacturers are maintaining brand integrity across partners, increasing scalability of marketing assets across the channel without adding resources, and tracking which online activities are working and which ones are not. The challenge facing e-tailers is keeping consumers interested in their catalogs by offering enough rich product content to replace the tactile in-store experience, while keeping costs and time involved in updating content low.
Content Ping: How will ContentCast help manufacturers overcome these challenges?
Eli Marcus: ContentCast gives manufacturers a platform to send out branded marketing assets to their broad partner base in real time, enabling them to update their product or campaign information on all partner pages simultaneously. This maintains brand integrity and reduces time and resources.
For e-tailers, ContentCast offers a fast and effective way to keep product information current on their product pages at absolutely no cost to them.
Content Ping: One criticism of rich media in general, and syndicated content in particular, is that it offers very little SEO value. What is ContentCast doing to address this issue?
Eli Marcus: CNET Content Solutions is different from other players in this space because we can couple our ContentCast offering with DataSource and provide a complete solution. ContentCast delivers rich manufacturer assets directly to the webpage while DataSource provides a foundation of data that is indexable, searchable, and enables partners to create the navigational structure of their site.
Content Ping: How important is mobile commerce to your customers? What is CCS’s approach to m-commerce?
Eli Marcus: More customers are requesting help with m-commerce. We are currently in pilot with a large brick-and-mortar to include CNET editorial content as part of their QR code experience. We clearly see m-commerce as an extension of the overall shopping experience. Customers want data available to them at any point, but the content needs to be relevant to the experience. In e-commerce, the user needs to have the tactile in-store experience replaced with rich online content. With m-commerce, the user needs to have the accessibility of rich content but also relevant information like product reviews and competitive pricing to help assure them that they are making the right decision. To meet these needs, we are incorporating editorial content directly from CNET Reviews and GameSpot into our platform, allowing us to create solutions that blend the manufacturer content together with original content.
Content Ping: How do you expect social commerce to change how people buy products online? And what will a rise in social commerce mean for CCS and syndicated content?
Eli Marcus: Social commerce will enable people to see what is being purchased and move groups of people to the best products at the best price. For CCS, social commerce will be another avenue where customers will need great product information to connect with products. The challenge of all online shopping is to recreate the in-store experience in a virtual environment. In-store customers have the tactile experience of seeing the product or the product box. The job of online content is to make a non-tactile experience (browsing the web) as rich and thorough as possible.
As Senior Director of Products for CNET Content Solutions, Eli is responsible for managing ContentCast, CCS's syndication service. While at CNET Content Solutions, Eli has served multiple roles, including managing global custom solutions. Prior to joining CNET Content Solutions, Eli was an early employee of the Silicon Valley startup OneChannel.net.
Eli has a B.A. in Business and an M.B.A. from the University of Judaism in Los Angeles and a J.D. from UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco.