South by Southwest
Content and Commerce: The Digital Cronut

Sometimes when you take two things that seem totally different and mash them together, the result can be brilliant. Like peanut butter and jelly or the latest foodie fad, the cronut. Ben Lerer, the CEO of Thrillist Media Group, spoke at SXSW about finding a new blend that can have a delicious potential for the advertising and marketing worlds: content and commerce.

“It’s easier to build a brand than ever before,” Lerer began, referring to the near-gluttony of content that is out there these days. There are more than two million articles created online and in the digital space every single day, which means that there is a battle for eyeballs; the supply is far outweighing the demand. But this also means that brands no longer have to depend on publications for buying impressions. They can simply create them, with original content. Lerer pointed to examples like Red Bull and Nike, who aren’t merely creating a product — they’re also media companies, which have helped them carefully curate their unique brands. And the big untapped opportunity in digital media is commerce.

Back in 2010, Thrillist acquired JackThreads, a members-only online retailer, which signaled Thrillist’s venture into commerce. And Lerer says blending content with commerce has helped JackThreads immensely, because content drives action. People do things after seeing Thrillist content,” Lerer said. “We bought JackThreads to crack the code in turning buyers into readers and readers into buyers.” It seems they’ve succeeded.

There’s great value in having a stake in both the content and the commerce that it’s geared towards. Lerer notes that by owning the commercial interest that you’re talking about in your content, and that your audience wants, the result is the creation of a new source of monetization. Telling a great story is key. because at it’s heart commerce is storytelling. What your product is should be secondary to why you sell it, and tying is a brand with relevant, highly shareable content can yield great results.

Brands have always wanted to make an emotional connection with consumers. Getting to the heart of a consumer, and not his or her head, remains a vital key to securing that ever-important trust, which of course leads to lasting relationships. There are now far fewer barriers to break down in order to do that.

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