Viglink, which recently raised $18 Million Series C, made waves in the San Francisco world by hiring Steven Hartman, former VP of product marketing at Acxiom. This is a big win for publishers looking to monetize their content online.
I was able to sit down with Steven and talk about the upcoming plans for Viglink and the online content industry. Here is the interview:
Can you give a little more information about your background?
Steven Hartman: At the beginning of my career, I was a developer of custom enterprise and manufacturing applications. Since then, I have taken roles across many of the go-to-market functions including product management, sales operations, and marketing. This was largely due to my interest in learning more about the complete product lifecycle. I have maintained a focus in marketing due to the industry need in having clear and engaging stories told for how complex advertising technologies solve marketing problems. There is still much to do on this front and I've enjoyed working on these types of challenges.
My industry focus in ad tech and digital media began at Yahoo in 2006. Being part of the early days of search and display technologies, I have been hooked on the challenge of making digital media valuable to both publishers and advertisers.
What big projects have you worked on in the past?
SH: I was fortunate enough to learn from many initiatives that have shaped today's advertising technology landscape. At Yahoo I led the product management effort for the first several releases of the display ad platform APT. This was rolled out to over 400 newspapers spanning 10 different holding companies, which we referred to as the Newspaper Consortium. Subsequently, APT was implemented across all Yahoo's global media properties for direct sales. With respect to marketing I led the messaging and field enablement efforts for Yahoo.
What new advances are being made to monetize content online?
SH: Automatic content link insertion. Display advertising is quickly becoming a second-tier marketing channel for brand and performance marketers. The significant adoption of media consumed across various mobile devices has been a primary contributor to this trend. Marketers have subsequently been looking at other marketing channels as a result. One such channel is traffic driven by links embedded in third-party editorial content.
Content "online" doesn't now only exist on a desktop. It is increasingly consumed through smaller and smaller mobile devices and, with this, has to come new advances to allow effective monetization. The traditional banner ad, which cannot place a stake in new small-screen mobile content, is progressively becoming the second tier of monetization strategy and within-content forms of organic advertising, which enhance the consumers' online experience, are advancing to take center stage.
Third, real-time valuation and link direction. The marketplace for valuing consumer traffic is in constant flux due to factors such as seasonality, product launches, and sales-promotion events. The VigLink Exchange was architected to address these dynamics and power one the most valuable marketing channels to drive consumer traffic. For each digital impression, the content exchange determines the most valuable destination for every link on a page and subsequently directs the consumer.
I just started a blog. What is the best way to promote it online?
SH: There are a lot of ways to promote your new blog online. If you already have a solid social media following, start by sharing the news with those individual and encourage them to share with their like-minded networks. These will form your first fans and may well go on to be your most loyal readers and sharers.
Take advantage of popular trending topics and hashtags to bring you onto the radar of people beyond your network. If you are writing about important trends and topics, people will want to read what you have. This will also help you to rank in search rankings.
Make sure your site is SEO-optimized (if you are not an expert in this, consider spending the money to have a professional help you). If you have any budget, spend some money on paid-promotion on Facebook.
Try guest blogging on a few other sites that have larger followings and link back to your new site within the post by highlighting other relevant articles you have written, or add your new URL into the bio.
How can Bloggers and Forum Owners better monetize their content?
SH:Leverage Social! Not only use these tools to drive traffic back to your blog but also put up amazing content that will drive links back to your site. Ensure that links in your blog open up new windows so consumers can simultaneously shop while reading your blog's content Create slideshows or galleries--they're an easy way to showcase a variety of products. And create a Shopping section. This can be an easy way to point readers to your favorite stores while shopping is top of mind.
Monetizing your content online isn't magic--it does take some work. Use the tips above to get the best results online. Thanks to Steve for taking time to answer these questions.