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From coverage of the new Xbox Console to Kathmandu Jackets, Avid Collective has something for every Aussie.The network of seven digital media brands engages audiences across its owned social pages and websites on a variety of topics and passion points, ranging from retail to travel.

All the Avid Collective brands communicate through short-form video articles, which they produce and publish at a rate of around 1,500 videos monthly, reaching more than six million Australian consumers. And across those videos, hundreds of Avid’s brand partners are featured and promoted.

Nick Pringle, Impact’s Partner Development Manager for APAC, got on the line with Luke Spano, Avid’s Managing Director, to see how the company balances the needs of brand partners and consumers across its diverse content sites. 

Nick: Your quick, engaging video articles are a big differentiator for your brands online — how do you ensure they don’t come across to consumers just as infomercials? 

Luke: Each of our brands has a powerful editorial strategy focused on building equity and trust with our audiences. A core element to this editorial strategy is producing high-quality stories that communicate both the interest points and value of what we are showcasing or promoting, for the relevant audience. When we work with advertisers on sponsored content, we adopt the same communication principles that we use with the editorial content, ensuring we speak to the value of the advertising brand or product and do so in a way that is informative, entertaining and easy to digest for our audiences.

Nick: What’s the secret to pleasing both advertisers and consumers? That seems like a tough balance to achieve when you are making thousands of videos every year.

Luke: From an approach perspective as I said before, our team is focused on speaking to the value for the consumer, by showcasing what it is specifically about the brand or product that is worth the consumer spending their time and/or money on. Our content team are experts at identifying this value and determining the best way to communicate it to our audiences in ways they find engaging and informative. 

From a campaign perspective, we use both hyper targeting and a scale of content to ensure we are able to speak to this value in a way that is personalised and relevant for a range of different audience segments. The reason why someone may consider a brand, experience, or product is different for different people, so communicating unique propositions to these different audience segments is a major opportunity for advertising that we prioritize in our campaigns. 

Nick: Avid can provide quantifiable and meaningful metrics beyond impressions, so measurement must be a big advantage to partnering with you. What are your partners looking for in terms of results and data?

Luke: We work with many different partners who want to achieve different goals, and therefore measure many different types of metrics — from more top-of-funnel metrics like unique reach, video view-through rates, and engagement rates to more bottom-of-funnel metrics like total traffic, conversions, and new user rates. 

Ultimately it is vital we have the capability to both work to and measure it all. And then to break down these metrics by creative, placement, audience segment, and time period. Hence why partnering with Impact is so powerful for us and our partners. 

Nick: How do you choose which brand partners to work with, and are there any specific partners you would love to add to your roster? Any types of advertisers you avoid?

Luke: We focus on working with partners where we feel we can showcase their value. The value of a brand or product is obviously a repetitive theme but it is just fundamental to our formula. This is why we have seven unique media brands with audiences across a range of passion points, who trust our voices and recommendations. This allows us to work with a super diverse range of partners across many industries. 

In terms of partners we’d love to work with, it is more about the type of partnership than the specific partner. For us, the more in depth with a partner we can be, the greater results and efficiencies we can drive. So for us, it is about working with partners who are open with their objectives and strategies so we can best create campaigns that support their goals, as this creates the most valuable partnerships for both sides. 

Nick: Can you describe some of the ways the Impact Partnership Cloud contributes to the success of your partnership program and your business model? What challenges did you face before Impact, and how has Impact helped with those?

Luke: Impact’s platform helps us in a variety of ways across the partnership life cycle. Campaign setup is the first one as we are able to build and execute large content campaigns with unique tracking for each element. This saves both us and the client an ample amount of time and resources, and the setup is super flexible, which means we can customise each campaign in a way that suits the specific objectives. 

The second is the power of the tracking elements, which help give us really meaningful and tangible insights into how our audience is behaving once they land on our partner’s ecosystem. 

The third is the instant measurability of the performance, meaning during campaigns we can optimise our campaigns based on clear indicators and data from the platform so we improve the outcomes every day we are live. Ultimately all these factors help improve with efficiency and effectiveness, which provides a lot of value to us and the partners that we work with using the platform.

Nick: With product messaging, brand voice, and a variety of other content components being so specific to different advertisers, how do you stay updated and in sync with your partners?

Luke: Attention to detail, quality communication, tried and tested campaign processes, and our logical, easy-to-use content campaign platform. Staying aligned with your clients really is the most important part of any partnership so it is definitely something we prioritise. It is vital that everyone who works on a partnership from our side, whether it be the commercial team who manages the relationships, the content team who creates the sponsored content, or the digital strategy team who handles the execution, that we prioritise both the advertiser’s goals and objectives so that we can deliver a valuable outcome, whilst also ensuring the audience’s experience is high quality and in line with their expectations of us and our brands. 

Nick: What is the most challenging aspect of day-to-day partnership maintenance?

Luke: For us, content reviews and approvals has previously been the most time-consuming element but we’ve recently launched our own content platform to make this process much faster as all the revisions are handled through our own platform, which makes it much easier for all sides. 

The other element for some of our partnerships is the reporting aspect. With unique reporting cycles and the many different requirements as I mentioned earlier, having platforms that help with these elements is super valuable, such as allowing clients to jump in and pull their own data, etc. We have our own platform to breakdown content performance and audience engagement for our channels, and then obviously Impact significantly helps with the performance of the campaign on the partners channels. 

Nick: What advice you would give to brands that are looking to grow or strengthen their strategy with content partners?

Luke: Ultimately, being really clear on what you want to achieve with any partnership is what is crucial. Why are you looking to work with the merchant partner, what is it you are wanting to leverage? Then to this end, setting expectations from a performance perspective to allow the merchant partner to work to these targets with you. 

I think having a good understanding of what the core benefits to content partners are. They’re the best in the market at capturing the attention of audiences and driving deeper engagement. They offer incremental opportunities to grow your customer base and engage audiences in ways you won’t be able to through other channels. 

To this end, having a segmentation strategy is vital, either with each partner individually if they are large enough, or with your “partner roster” overall. Make sure you are speaking to your different target audiences in a unique and relevant way to them. Content partners are the best way to do this if you work with them correctly. 

Nick: What’s on the horizon for Avid? New properties? New geos? Or any new partnerships brewing that you can tell us about?

Luke: We are lucky enough to be expanding all facets of the business right now so this means expanding the channels our existing properties are living across, expanding the different types of content we are creating across these properties, and then also expanding the number of properties we have in-market. 

The most significant expansion we are executing at the moment is with our “Add To Cart” brand that is focused on retail. We are about to launch the next iteration of our website experience, which will become a powerful and comprehensive shopping guide, curating and showcasing thousands of products. We are then launching a number of Add To Cart subbrands, such as Add To Cart Tech as an example, but will be doing this across a variety of other retail categories as well soon to be announced. All very exciting as the world of ecommerce continues to thrive and expand. 

Nick: Finally, the elephant on the Zoom: your pandemic experience. How has COVID-19 affected your business and your partnerships? What are the lessons you’ve learned that you’ll carry forward beyond the crisis?

Luke: We’ve been really fortunate in regards to COVID-19 that a number of our partnerships have stayed active and we’ve been able to navigate through the period together and relatively unscathed. A number of our verticals of focus were significantly impacted like local experiences, travel and alcohol, but it just meant that we adjusted more of our focus to industries like retail. 

It has also given us the opportunity to enhance many of our internal functions and further develop our internal tech platform, which is seeing results for clients and efficiencies and the business continues to improve month on month, which is awesome. 

In terms of lessons we’ve learned, I think the major ones have been around the power of the team and the importance of keeping aligned on our week-to-week objectives. When we stay focused and work together on common objectives, the results are significant and immediate. It has been harder than ever to keep prioritising these elements but our business will benefit for years to come from the practices we have developed during this time.  

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