Unholy Matrimony: 5 Ways Chief Digital Officers Can Mix Content and Commerce [VIDEO]

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Shane Norman, Chief Digital Officer at Douglas Shaw & Associates

“There has always been a separation of church and state between content and commerce,” said Shane Norman, Chief Digital Officer at Douglas Shaw & Associates.

He made his remarks at the “Content and Commerce: Natural Partners or a Shotgun Marriage?” panel held at the inaugural U.K. Chief Digital Officer Summit at the BBC in London, England, on October 29, 2014.

Increasingly, digital transformation is forcing both content creators and e-commerce companies to branch out into others’ territory.

The results are sometimes awkward and not always successful, yet the experts on the panel all agree: such initiatives are absolutely necessary to publishers’ survival.

“We’re seeing a lot of publishers and traditional content companies looking to diversify revenue streams and build out commerce capabilities. At the same time, we’re seeing a lot of brands and commerce companies moving to use content as a way of driving engagement with their audience and differentiating their brands,” explained moderator Chris Whiteley, SVP, Digital at BBC Worldwide.

Participants included, from left to right:

  • Chris Whiteley (Moderator): SVP, Digital at BBC Worldwide
  • Juan Lopez-Valcarcel: SVP,of Data Science & User Experience, and former Chief Digital Officer at Pearson
  • Shane Norman: Chief Digital Officer at Douglas Shaw & Associates
  • Múirne Laffan: Managing Director at RTÉ Digital
Chris Whiteley, Juan Lopez-Valcarcel, Shane Norman, Múirne Laffan

“Content and Commerce: Natural Partners or a Shotgun Marriage?” panel at the UK Chief Digital Officer Summit 2014

Below are five ways Chief Digital Officers can mix content and commerce:

1. Choose New Revenue Streams that Fit Your Organization and Audience

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Múirne Laffan: Managing Director at RTÉ Digital

What works for one content company may not be worthwhile for another. Múirne Laffan admitted that RTÉ, Ireland’s national television and radio broadcaster, had no choice but to find and optimize new revenue streams.

“The reality is, technology has been so disruptive to what would have been the traditional source of commercial revenue, i.e. advertising,” Laffan said. “The progression is actually, to a degree, disrupting and cannibalizing our core business. So we have to look at new ways of doing things.”

One issue: advertisements are most effective on desktop, but 70% of RTÉ’s reach is mobile. Another is the fact that “half of our audience is overseas…. How do we find a way for that to become worth investing in? Advertising is not necessarily the answer.”

The solution was offering download-to-own digital content through partner GAA, the Gaelic Athletic Association. In only four months, they had paying customers in 128 markets.

“We are not competing with the BBC. We are not competing with Netflix. So we are really trying to capitalize on a market that we feel we can forensically target,” Laffan noted.

A similar model didn’t work at NBC Universal, with its vast array of over 1 million concurrent daily users spread among many diverse communities, such as astrology.com, Gardenweb, and Totalhealth. “As much as you would put an effort on it, it wouldn’t be worth your while,” explained Juan Lopez-Valcarcel, who was previously Digital GM at NBC Universal.

“Over the course of three years we basically built up and dismantled the e-commerce team, twice!” Despite their best efforts, e-commerce never exceeded about 5% to 10% of the company’s total revenue, he admitted.

Read the other 4 strategies and watch the video below.....

*The rest of this article is for CDO Club members only*

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