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    You Have Best-In-Class Digital Content, BUT is it Effective?, with Shazer Baig, Ecommerce Director at L’Oreal, Mike Black, CMO at Profitero, and Kathleen Harrington, Vice President, Digital Merchandising at Hasbro

    Content is understandably a key focus for digital leaders: it's the first thing consumers see and a key factor in their decision-making. Brands have placed a renewed emphasis on creating best-in-class content, but they're also questioning what content levers they need to pull to sway potential buyers. After extensive research and in-depth interviews with digital leaders, The Digital Shelf Institute & Profitero have found that it takes much more than producing great content to effectively convert shoppers. This is an audio rebroadcast of webinar featuring Mike Black, CMO at Profitero, Shazer Baig, Ecommerce Director at L’Oreal, and Kathleen Harrington, Vice President, Digital Merchandising at Hasbro, who joined Lauren Livak Gilbert to talk through a new framework for managing and measuring content maturity.


    Our transcripts are generated by AI. Please excuse any typos and if you have any specific questions please email info@digitalshelfinstitute.org.


    Peter Crosby (00:00):

    Welcome to unpacking the Digital Shelf where we explore brand manufacturing in the digital age.


    Hey everyone. Peter Crosby here from The Digital Shelf Institute. Content is understandably a key focus for digital leaders. It's the first thing consumers see and a key factor in their decision-making brands have placed a renewed emphasis on creating best in class content, but they're also questioning what content levers they need to pull to sway potential buyers. After extensive research and in-depth interviews with digital leaders, the Digital Shelf Institute and profitero have found that it takes much more than producing great content to effectively converge shoppers. This is an audio rebroadcast of a webinar featuring Mike Black CMO of Profitero, Shazer Baig Global e-Commerce director at L'Oreal, and Kathleen Harrington, vice President Digital Merchandising at Hasbro, who joined Lauren Livak Gilbert to talk through a new framework for managing and measuring content maturity.

    Lauren Livak Gilbert (01:09):

    Hello everyone. For those of you who do not know me, my name is Lauren Livak Gilbert. I just got married. I have to remember to add that at the end of my name now, and I lead the Digital Shelf Institute. Thank you so much for everyone who is a member of the Digital Shelf Institute. We love bringing these webinars to you and welcome to you have Best in Class digital content, but is it effective? So the Digital Shelf Institute collaborated with profitero. So Mike is on the phone and we did this awesome research report. If you have not read it, please do scan the QR code. I will also make sure I drop it in the chat. It is a fantastic report. We interviewed executives across multiple different industries and really dove into the topic of content effectiveness. So we're going to dive into the report today and we have some great brands with us to give us their perspective as well. So I gave you my quick intro and I'll let all of the other speakers introduce themselves as well. So Mike, why don't you kick us off?

    Mike Black (02:06):

    Yeah, thanks Lauren. So I'm Mike Black. I'm the chief marketing officer, Profitero. In case you don't know Profitero. We're a commerce acceleration company, which is a fancy way of saying that we provide data insights, tools and automation to help brands increase traffic, conversion and profit on the digital shelf of about 1200 retailers worldwide. So content effectiveness is a very important topic for us as we're really enhancing our product suite around this opportunity area. So really excited to be here today. Kathleen, over to you.

    Kathleen Harrington (02:37):

    Thank you. Hi everyone. I'm Kathleen Harrington. I'm VP of digital merchandising at Hasbro. As part of the global e-com team, I really focus on digital shelf strategy and development. So I'm really excited to have this conversation today. So I'll pass it over to Shazer.

    Shazer Baig (02:55):

    Thank you, Kathleen. My name is Shazer. I'm the global e-commerce director heading content transformation at L'Oreal. So in short, what we do or I do is any content that goes live on any e-commerce platform needs to be made effective and efficient through our teams. So in short, that's what we do and we'll discuss more around it.

    Lauren Livak Gilbert (03:17):

    Great, thank you both Kathleen and Shazer were a huge proponent of the report. They participated in the report, a lot of what they shared with us was included in it, so we're really excited to have them in the conversation today. So just to get a bit of the lay of the land, we are going to talk about what is content effectiveness because believe it or not, there's different definitions. We're going to go through the stages of content. So we learned a lot as we did our research and we understood that there were a couple of different stages of maturity when it came to content, how other brands are thinking about content. And then we will actually talk to Kathleen and Shazer  about their experiences and have a panel to ask them questions. We will then open it up to the audience. If you do have a question, I encourage you, please put it in the q and a portion of the Zoom webinar and I will review it and we can answer them live. If we do not get to them, then I can also answer them or I can share an email address where you can share them out as well.


    So to kick us off, I just wanted to talk about the first question we tackled. So every interview that Mike and I did, the first thing we asked every single brand leader was what is content effectiveness? And I think both of us, I'll speak for you, Mike, we thought it was going to be the same answer, but actually it was a very different answer across the board. So there's some examples on the screen of what we heard from people. One person said it started as content that converts and then it switched to content that arouses shopper desires. Someone said it was defining the biggest trigger for the consumer to make the purchase and prioritizing the most effective content. And another was win-win for retailers, users and the company achieving their goals. So it really ran across the gamut and what we learned from all these different leaders is that everyone is still trying to figure this out.


    Content effectiveness is not one specific definition because there is not one way of measuring it, and there are so many different factors that go into actually achieving content effectiveness, which Mike is going to get into. So we wanted to start off this webinar by asking everyone on the call a question because of course we're talking about content effectiveness and I am sorry that my screen is currently frozen. So give me one second. Here we go. So I'm going to pull up a poll on the screen here. So you should see this in just a second. So I'm launching the poll now and we would love to hear from everyone in the audience, does your organization have a definition of content effectiveness? And if you're comfortable, please do throw it in the chat. We would love to hear your definition of content effectiveness. We will talk to Kathleen and Shazer as well to ask them that question, but we would love to hear from you.


    So we're getting a lot of responses coming in. Here we go. I am going to close the poll in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. All right, so here we go. In terms of results, it looks like 32% say they're working on it, which is great. 31% say no, they do not have a definition of content effectiveness. Now, I would've to say this doesn't surprise me because based on our interviews, a lot of people were saying we're trying to figure it out. We don't know what the definition looks like right now or how we get there. Mike, any thoughts on the results?

    Mike Black (06:51):

    No, I'm not surprised. And I think probably if you don't have a definition, you actually probably have one by default because there has to be some attitude that you have. It's just probably not clearly articulated yet.

    Lauren Livak Gilbert (07:03):

    I love it. And for anyone again who wants to throw it in the chat, we would love to hear your definition of content effectiveness. So now I am going to pass it over to Mike.

    Mike Black (07:13):

    Yeah, no, this is great. Maybe as a foundation it might be helpful to explain what do we mean by content. When we went into this and we talked about content, we really were talking about the PDP. There's all types of different content, there's obviously ad content, things like that. But we really focus on the PDP and what we came out of our interviews with was a maturity curve in terms of how brands think about the evolution of content effectiveness. And we found brands were all in all different sort of stages. So just to give you a high level what we learned and we broke it down in terms of a crawl, walk, run, and then a sprint model. So what we found in the crawl stage, the earliest stage is that the definition of content factors is really around compliance and it's about meeting retailer standards.


    A lot of retailers have guidelines and things that they expect brands to have. So a lot of the focus is aligning with the retailers and what those standards are and then making sure the organization has the content even to meet those standards. And it's a lot about checking the box, do I have everything so that I look good in the retailer standards? So that's really the crawl stage of things. The walk stage is where brand start to really think about completeness. And a term that we heard a couple times was this idea of sufficiency. And really what it comes down to is do I actually have enough content to meet the needs of the algorithm? So retailers all uniquely have an algorithm that powers search and also what powers conversion. And so this is where we're starting to move out of a definition of compliance to actually getting to this idea of effectiveness.


    And so start having conversations about understanding how the algorithm works and then looking at your content from the lens of how it is driving that algorithm, which ultimately makes it competitive because if you're meeting the algorithm, your content will show up and appear ahead of your competitors. So that's really what we found with content completeness. And then we get to run, we start to get to this idea of content effectiveness as defined by the shopper. So instead of just thinking about the retailer standards and the algorithms we found brands we're starting to move towards, is this actually resonating with the shopper to cause them to convert, to cause them to actually click and buy? And a lot of that comes down to really understanding the shopper and what appeals to them. And so we see brands doing a lot more testing in terms of how that content appeals to them appeal even images, how is that resonating versus other the way, how should we represent the category?


    So that's where we got to run. And then the last is sprint. And this was something that is really on, I think on the cutting edge as we talk about AI and we talk about operations, it's really great, we have effective content, but do we have this efficiently being created in our organizations? Are there the right workflow approvals to get things out there quickly? Are we utilizing all the content and then are we using AI and automation to create it and get it out to market? Because one of the things that we found is it takes a lot of resources to create effective content. You think about your whole portfolio and all the resources that you can spend is probably against a subset, maybe the top 20%, but there's a mighty middle of your portfolio that deserves that love. And so we find that in the sprint stage that brands are now thinking about scaling excellence across their portfolio. So that kind of gives us through the stages and you can see how the focus changes as you go through the journey.

    Lauren Livak Gilbert (11:04):

    And the one thing I'll add to that, Mike, is we found that everyone's digital maturity on their digital transformation matches to where they are. So if you're in the beginning of your digital journey, you might be in the pre-work stage where you're really just trying to find your data and figure out where it is. And this very much also connects to people, process and technology. So where are you in your digital transformation? Are you working with your retailers individually to figure out what types of content needs to be sent to those specific retailers? So as you're thinking in your head about where you are on your digital journey, it'll be helpful to figure out where you are on this content effectiveness journey as well.

    Mike Black (11:43):

    And to your point, Lauren, within that there are five pillars that have to be in place for companies to advance. And we cover this in detail and report, but just going through this from a headline perspective, it comes down to people. What we find is in the early stage, this occupies half a person's job and eventually you build out a team to really centralize the operations of this. And that's really comes down to people when it comes to data and systems early, we find a lot of this is about having a source of truth and it starts in a spreadsheet to actually getting that all into a center of a data asset management system. When it comes to process early on, what we find is content is almost digital content on the shelf is a little bit of an afterthought. So there's all this work happening usually upstream with a new product launch, so many brand assets get created and in early stage maturity we find that the commerce team kind of gets that downwind and then spends a lot of time having to get that ready.


    But as you advance in maturity, we find that there's much more synergy, there's much more alignment upstream in terms of what we need for the digital. I know Kathleen will talk about that in detail. And then when it comes to measurement, which I'll double click in a little bit here is a really about those KPIs. And the last is retail collaboration. And I'll just say the headline here is in the crawl stage, there really isn't a lot of strategic conversation happening between retailers and brands. It's a lot of scorecard keeping. Whereas in later stages we find that brands start to operate as category captains and there's actually a collaboration with some brands who are able to work with the retailers to help shape their perspective on what good content looks like in the category. So in the report you'll see there is a ebb and a flow and a crawl walk run for each of these elements.


    And then before we hand it off, just one double click, I mean we're all about measurement and profit share. So I had to nerd out a little bit, double click here. It just gives you one of the challenging areas about content is unlike retail media, there's so much performance metrics and we can look at ROI is content is a little bit difficult, but what we were able to tease out was how do brands think about measurement and content as they progress So early on, a lot of the stages about percentage of compliance and we have scorecards that tell us is our content accurate or not? And then as we move down to walk, one of the big things we found consistently was brands start talking about content in terms of how it improves search and how it actually using search as a metric that can help the organization understand that we are approving our organic search as that. And then we start in the run have brands that are starting to look deeper into conversion and ultimately in Sprint, and I'm sure she will talk about this, is we start thinking about efficiency metrics and with some brands that are actually measuring speed to shelf content utilization, which is how much actually makes it out there. So just to give you a little bit of an overview of the maturity around metrics that we saw as we talked to many of these brands

    Lauren Livak Gilbert (14:53):

    And Mike, we actually got a question that I think would be relevant to talk about right now. When you talk about quality, what did we hear from brands around how they measure quality?

    Mike Black (15:02):

    Yeah, so quality can be both a little bit of an art and a science. You'll see an art and a science team and our research ultimately quality part of it was the metric of conversion. Like is this thing converting? Do we think it is good? But the other was using more qualitative type measures. So there are some technologies out there for example that are able to measure how images resonate. So they have a model that really tell you this image appeals very highly to the shopper in this category versus others. So there's a sense of appeal resonance, almost like proxies for what we think will be conversion. And that's one element. And I know Kathleen and her company has done some really cool things with bringing shopper insights into the content development and really it's a little more qualitative on that side, but there's a sense that we're showing something to a consumer and we can understand if this is appealing to them and really resonating in a way that will cause them to want to purchase.

    Lauren Livak Gilbert (16:10):

    And it's a lot about test and learn. So from the quality standpoint it's, see if this works, let's review it, then let's put that learning back into what we're doing and then start over. So the quality is a lot of that kind of art piece and Mike talked about that a bit, but if you download the full report, you can see the framework that we built based on all of these different pillars that are important for content effectiveness. And we have this vert science metric in there because there are some metrics where you can have a clear understanding of what content looks like and there are others where you have to do more of that test and learn approach to see if it does work. And that's why it really is a good balance between the two of them. Alright, so Mike and I are going to stop talking now and we are going to put the really important people on the phone. And Kathleen, here we go. So Kathleen, can I ask you, how do you define content effectiveness?

    Kathleen Harrington (17:05):

    Absolutely. So I think you can look at it as conversion engagement, but I really think that's more to the story. So we kind of look at it as internal and external content effectiveness. So for internal, we're asking questions like, are we driving efficiencies in content development? Is the content mobile optimized because that is going to drive effectiveness? Are we delivering on time so all the PDP assets are available when the product launches, do we think about your product? Is it on the digital shelf? We want to make sure that you never ship a package that wasn't fully developed. You want to make sure that your digital shelf is just as developed as that packaging that's standing in store. So we want to look at is your copy fully optimized for search pre-launch? Are we updating the copy during key seasonal selling periods to drive higher search ranking based on consumer behavior?


    Have we conducted pre-launch testing to get the PDP in front of consumers in an environment that mimics a live e-comm product detail page to get their feedback and then action against that feedback before it goes live? And then are we conducting post-launch optimization or AB testing to improve the content? Is the content getting leveraged by all internal teams across all markets? So that's kind of how we look at internal effectiveness. We think about external factors besides looking at sales, does the content meet retailer requirements, which I think we talked upon and does it meet the retailer content health scores? What's our share of shell? How high are we in organic search ranking? Are we winning that algorithm? And then how many consumer questions are posted? I think this is a great indicator to understand, has your content proactively addressed all concerns to barriers to purchase? So it's an easy answer would be we look at conversion and engagement, but I think you have to look a little bit deeper kind of those internal and external factors when we think about really driving effectiveness.

    Lauren Livak Gilbert (19:15):

    And Kathleen, that's why there are so many pillars of content effectiveness. So thank you for confirming our theory. Thank you so much, Kathleen. Shazer, how about you? How would you define it?

    Shazer Baig (19:24):

    So I'll start by admitting that to your quiz question. I marked yes that we do have a definition and it's rightly so with L'Oreal being category leaders in a lot of categories. We've done some work on content which is working, but I admit that for the last one year, we are now in an evolution phase where evolving the definition and when we say evolving the definition, of course the ecosystem evolves. So from moving from a simple definition on content that converts to now content that fuels shopper desires across the shopper journey, there is a big difference here because with content that converts, you see all the shopper touch points as an opportunity to drive sales. So you put in content which is let's say promo focused, which is trying to drive an up sales, an upsurge in your sales. But when you actually start to work on every touch point on platform, you understand the role is different and hence the content type needs to be different.


    It requires a lot of shopper insights. For the last one year we've been working on which touchpoint will resonate the best with shopper with what message relevant someone wrote in chat, it's going to be extremely critical today. In one year we've created an ecosystem that can deliver on these touch points with different content messages. So one and won't go into the how part we will in other questions, but our definition is evolving from simple content that converts to content that drives and fuels shopper desires across shopper journey one. Also what we are complimenting this definition is, and Catherine touched base on, is in efficiency because in today's day and age where you're churning out content and it's becoming more easy with Jenny et cetera, coming in efficiency is going to be the key because not only will it be, I mean it'll save resources for you, it's good for environment, but it'll also allow you to focus on the big battles. So that's where we are in terms of definition, evolving from content that converts to content that strives and fuel shopper desires across the shopper journey and do that in an efficient manner.

    Lauren Livak Gilbert (21:28):

    And I think a theme that I've heard from both of your definitions is it's always evolving and I think we need to remember that across the space, right? Let's think about e-commerce in general. It is not stagnant, it is always changing. There are always new requirements, retailers are changing. So know that the definition you have now for content effectiveness might not be the same in the next year or two years as you're evolving. So I like to just mention that as brands are going through this journey, it can change. Okay, so Kathleen, let's talk about what does your team own from a content perspective?

    Kathleen Harrington (22:03):

    So we're the digital merchandising team, which is a global organization and we're responsible for all PDP content needs. So we develop the PDP and organic SEO strategy, we write the SEO infused copy, we manage the syndicated review process and we partner with the global teams on the visual content and we're ultimately accountable for delivering the content on time. So when we think about it from soup to nuts, we've got it all covered. Anything that goes on the PDP, our team has touched.

    Lauren Livak Gilbert (22:37):

    Thank you Kathleen. I think we're asking this question because I think it's helpful to set context to understand where Shazer and Kathleen sit in the organization and what they own and keep that in mind as they're answering these questions. Because if you have content all under the same roof from start to finish, it is easier to make these changes and to measure effectiveness. So in your organization, if you do not, does it make sense to either work better, cross-functionally, bring it under the same roof or change it to a better process that works internally for you? Thank you Kathleen. So Shazer, how does your team implement Golden Rule Docs to align to content? Mike talked about this in the crawl walk, run when we were thinking about content completeness. Can you talk a little bit about that?

    Shazer Baig (23:24):

    I think even before I answer this, I'll just take a step back to explain where we sit in the organization and how we are looking at content now as an entire value chain. See, with this definition evolving, we are very clear that if we want to win with content in today's day and age, the first thing that we need to do is Desi the teams from marketing global down to the platform leads to the e merchandising executing content. Hence this global team was created, which I'm part of from a content standpoint that makes sure that this siloing happens across the content value chain. So we work on the entire value chain and golden rules is part of it and it starts with the global content creators. Now we want to see how we want to best engage global content creators at L'Oreal, which is five different divisions, multiple brands, a lot of them being billion dollar brands.


    So you had to create a mechanism where you can bring all these divisions brands onto the same page. One way to do that was golden rules. So the first step that we did on how to implement was to first create shared ownership and to create shared ownership. Again, in the spirit of these siloing, we involved all key stakeholders from global marketing down to e-commerce executioners in creating the golden rules because when they are involved in the process, the ownership increases. We also had external support. Profitero played a big role and backed by shoppers, we created these golden rules with all these key stakeholders across value chain involved. So the first thing in implementation is you win over their minds that this is something that we were part of and we believe into. The second part of implementation is of course you need to train the extended teams, the agencies, et cetera, across value chain.


    But at the same time what we found very effective was tracking of this. So today when our global creators create contents using golden rules at the moment when they upload content on our PIM dam, there's an automated scorecard that gets generated telling the teams on how compliant they are with the golden rules. And this is four months before the content goes live. So enough space for the countries for the zones if the global teams are not creating content to fill in the gap or for us to request the global creators to make sure that this gap is filled. So the second most important part in Golden Rules implementation is tracking of it extremely critical. This is the two things that we do. And we then use these golden rules as a frame, as an anchor to make sure that the global teams, the global content creators are creating what a platform leads sitting in any part of the world, any division, any platform needs are completely met with the content that comes through. So co-create, there's ownership track, extremely critical, and that's how you implement Golden rules. We're still learning, we're still not there. We still track around 70%, but we are improving.

    Mike Black (26:23):

    Could you give just kind of a quick overview, what do you mean by golden rules? What informs that? I think it's really interesting how you guys have thought about it.

    Shazer Baig (26:33):

    So the process that we followed in creating the golden rules, as I said one now everything is driven by this broader definition of having shopper backed content across different touchpoints on the platforms. So the first thing to do was to look at internal data and go external and see what triggers the shopper, what fuel shopper desired at different touch points. I'll give you examples today, our content strategy on let's say the platform on assets is completely different versus the PDPs because there are different messages that the shoppers are looking for. So this golden rules define for every touchpoint on platform, on what sort of frame the global teams need to use, what is the level of messaging that they would like to see, what is the communication that they're most receptive to and also covers the platform requirements. We're not leaving that behind, but we've become more shopper first in this case.


    And now just to bear in mind doesn't take away from the creativity of the global creators, not at all. It just gives them the right frame, the right idea on what the shopper wants to see, the creativity they follow. So that's what the golden rules are. They cut across visual content, they cut across written content, they go as micro as for instance, number of words that you need to have in a product description to as micro as let's say they want to see a before and after with this, let's say placement of images, et cetera. This is backed by a lot of data. As I said, profit was part of it, but a lot of internal data, a lot of agencies like visit, et cetera, helping us with the right insights to defining these rules. And as Lauren you mentioned there will be evolution, but not in the definition but in the shopper desires and the way shoppers are triggered. So those will change, but the definition will remain the same that we will focus on shoppers for every touch point

    Lauren Livak Gilbert (28:27):

    And hir. One of the questions we actually got before the webinar was around specific retailer requirements. Do you have different golden docs by let's say Amazon, Walmart, target? Does it get to that level or is it more at a brand voice and then the regions activate based on their specific retailer?

    Shazer Baig (28:47):

    So what we've done is, so there are two sets of teams that we are touching in this question. So let's talk about the global creators. For them there's only one set of golden global rules that they follow, which is backed by these top retailers. We've taken the maximum requirement and then when that maximum requirement is delivered goes to the zones and countries, they can adapt use as per there particular retailer requirements. There are hundreds of retailers that we serve. Even if you pick top ones, they have top 50, et cetera. There are different requirements. So the global creators create content based on one single set of rules, which is the maximum version of all the requirements that exist. One. Then as you go onto zones and countries, now this, and we'll talk about this, there's another fundamental shift that we are bringing in where we are centralizing content creation through content factories and these content factories fully aversed and equipped on the different retailer requirements and then through different automations and now gen ai, they adapt this content to different needs of different retailers. So that's the two places where the golden rules work global one set of rules when you go to country level through these factories, they are of course we customize by retailer.

    Lauren Livak Gilbert (30:04):

    And Shazer, I think we got into the second question here. So do you want to elaborate any more on the cross-functional efforts that you're working from a content perspective across the board?

    Shazer Baig (30:14):

    Absolutely. So see we've, when we broadened this definition of how we want to approach content, we were very clear that to deliver on this, we have to Desi, and Desi might sound a fancy word, but the first step to Desi is to decomplexify the entire value chain of content. I'll give you an example. We were working with hundreds of agencies generally around the globe to adapt e-commerce content, what you mentioned, content coming in and then being adapted for different platforms. What we're now working on and we've progressed is to simplification centralization of into content factories that deals with regions broadly. And that what that does is that opens up let's say a channel for consolidated feedback for the global teams. So des siloing, basically our strategy, content strategy across the organization is one to Desi, there needs to be seamless integration between the global creators and the local activators. For that we are simplifying our ecosystem, we are centralizing our ecosystem, we are following golden rules frames. So everyone talks one language, everyone talks to fewer but important stakeholders. And then using this it becomes easier for us to implement tools because instead of for particular zone to implement tools in 50 countries, we've got to do it in one factory. So we're, we're decomp complexifying our ecosystems so that there's more integration and the goal is to desi the entire process of content creation. And that's only how we can win in today's content world.

    Lauren Livak Gilbert (31:51):

    Thank you. And Kathleen, I'd love to hear from you as well because I think it's great to have both you and Shaer here because you have different organizational structures, so you tackle it a little bit differently. And Kathleen, tell us how it works cross-functionally for you and your team. Right.

    Kathleen Harrington (32:05):

    Well the similarity is we have a centralized digital merchandising team. So we are a global function. So we build all the PDP content across the brands to serve all markets. So it's not getting done in a siloed environment. So the expectation is that the digital merchandising team provides the PDP direction and the content that's needed and the markets executed locally. Locally. So we partner directly with key sales and marketing teams at the regional and market level as well as the global brand teams. And that really helps to make that we are stayed informed of retailer strategy or expectations and we're all driving towards that same PDP content goal and things aren't being done on a local level or in a silo. So the centralized team with strong collaboration and partnership with the commercial sales teams and the global brand teams is really how it all gets made. So we have that focus across the portfolio, we understand what the retail requirements and strategies are and what the expectations are and then we can partner to achieve that with our global brand teams.

    Lauren Livak Gilbert (33:14):

    Key themes, de silo, collaborate work, cross-functionally partner, these are words that we use in all of our webinars, but these examples are so powerful because the more walls you can break down, the more you can measure your content effectiveness and make sure the money that you're spending on content is actually getting you the return that you'd like on your product detail pages and even extending to retail media. So thank you Kathleen and Shazer for sharing that. I just wanted to double click on the DSI part and Kathleen, I am super excited about this question and I know Mike and I, this was one of our favorite parts of your interview because you shared how you include the content in the beginning of your product development process. So please tell us this amazing story so we can share it with everyone.

    Kathleen Harrington (34:01):

    Sure, absolutely. So another thing to note is the digital merchandising team includes the brand writing team, and I think that's essential just the way that we're structured. So this is an SEO certify team and that they're involved in both the packaging and the e-copy development. So during the early stages of development, the brand writers will craft a PDP outline. And so the PDP outline is very much an upstream document that becomes the roadmap for any copy or visual development for the PDP. But it's talked about in the early stages of development. So when they're doing packaging kickoff meetings, we're also talking about what does the digital shelf look like? So that really helps us to think about the products representation on the physical shelf and the digital shelf at the same time. And as development proceeds, we look for efficiencies between the two to make sure we're telling that consistent story.


    So that's really been key for us to be able to do that upfront work. And then downstream we have a final document, it's a PDP guide, what's a downstream deliverable to the commercial team that outlines exactly the expectation and the vision of what that PDP will look like from you? Where does the copy bullet points, the hero image, the order of the carousel, and what does the below the fold look like? So that's a downstream deliverable, but the upstream deliverable is where we start at the very early stages of development and there's a lot of efficiencies to be gained when you do it that way in addition to having that consistency storytelling and you're not developing PDP assets as an afterthought.

    Mike Black (35:37):

    Yeah, I think that's what resonates with me. It's like so much of this is change management, it's about mindset shift and that creates a mindset shift to just think about we have to work on this in parallel with the software used to doing. So it's a great example of how you just start to shift that mentality from the very beginning.

    Lauren Livak Gilbert (35:58):

    It is omnichannel, exactly what you just described is omnichannel, Kathleen. And I think another really fascinating part of it is taking the test and learns that you do, putting it in front of the consumer to understand what they like, what they don't like, what resonates, and then plugging that back into that overall process, then you have that closed loop and I'm sure it really is helpful for you to understand your shopper and make sure that your content is effective. Correct,

    Kathleen Harrington (36:26):


    Lauren Livak Gilbert (36:28):

    Awesome. Okay, so speaking of feedback loop back into the organization, I think I may have stolen your thunder a bit there, Kathleen, can you talk about the feedback loop back into your organization, how that works more eloquently than I shared it?

    Kathleen Harrington (36:43):

    So a lot of it has to do with the collaboration. So we are constantly having those conversations on what is the expectation, but there is a lot of test and learn. We think about just the content loop in improving content and then we can talk a little bit about the organizational piece, but we do a lot of post-launch optimization. So we are looking to improve our content as we build that feedback loop into our overall process. So constantly testing and learning. So it's not like we're launching a product and we're kind of letting it go, we're launching and we're learning and we're improving along the way. And I think just having that constant feedback, whether it's with the brand teams or with its people who are on the ground locally executing this and making sure that we're hearing what they're hearing and that we're all building this together, but from purely a content, how do we get better? It is engaging the consumer to make sure that we're meeting expectations, it's reading reviews to understand, okay, what are they saying about the product? And maybe feeding that back into the product development team as well. So leveraging that PDP for today's content and tomorrow's content as well.

    Mike Black (37:55):

    Kathleen, do you find, I always find it interesting how you use reviews because I've heard it done two ways. In one way it's a feedback loop to the product team, but do you ever find that it's actually influencing the copy? Maybe there's a misunderstanding, something that you could have done better preventing returns. How does that work just in terms of any examples of where you've been able to apply that in real time to the copy itself?

    Kathleen Harrington (38:22):

    Yeah, absolutely. So our team is able to do a lot of analysis as we go into each season. So they're doing a digital shelf analysis and part of that is reading hundreds and hundreds of reviews and just understanding what is the consumer saying about the product. And then to really think about if you're looking at reviews and your reviews are kind of low, why is it, what is it in there and is it a communication issue? There might be something about the product that's not clearly communicating. So the consumer expectation when they get the item is diminished a little bit because they thought they were getting something else. So how do you update the copy in real time to be able to, so you're not losing that future sale that you're addressing everything you need to do on that PDP. And again, it's all about making sure you have the right content to eliminate any questions and any barriers to purchase

    Lauren Livak Gilbert (39:15):

    Shazer. A question for you that came in that I think actually fits with this and I think you would have a great angle to share. How important is it to align all of your content, not just your PDP, but maybe your online websites for your brand or your email marketing or your social, how do you think about incorporating your brand voice across all content and how does that work from a closed loop perspective?

    Shazer Baig (39:41):

    So I'll try to answer both. I mean, feedback is also a critical part. So when you're working with say multiple divisions, multiple categories, multiple brands, the first question that we had last year was to how to create this feedback loop. And it's two ways of course reviews, ratings from our commercial teams, activation teams back to the creators, but also from creators if there's no new angle, new researchers, et cetera that have come up, have to flow down also. And we quickly realized that with the current ecosystem, which is very complex where say the countries work with multiple agencies, it's not going to be possible. So the first thing if you want to create an effective feedback loop is to simplify the entire ecosystem of content management, the entire value chain. And that's the only way you can desi. So today our goal is that our marketing teams talk to let's say five content factories in five regions as opposed to a hundred agencies across these regions.


    So that's the first step. You simplify the system so that it's easier for the system and key stakeholders to talk to each other. And that's what we are working on very actively. And we've started seeing results. Also, of course the insights from review flowing into the product development teams. There are also reviews flowing into packaging teams. I'll give you a small example. There was a product shift where there was a shrink wrap on a pack which was removed and suddenly we saw that sales started going down and we had no idea from reviews. We got to know that people thought the product, it's fake, it's a counterfeit, and quickly there was a content piece created around, it went up live when the sales and the reviews got okay, but to make this feedback loop work, you've got to simplify the ecosystem. Again, back to the T siloing is going to be very critical. So that's on the feedback part. The second one is where you see all these different touch points talk to each other. So right now the scope that is under this e-com transformation for us is of course the D two C, of course our brand websites and is the indirect e-commerce, all these platforms that we work on.


    So from a brand perspective, we look at all these touch points backed by shopper to see what message do we deliver at what touch point social is right now is not integrated per se. We'll do this in coming years on how this entire shopper journey goes beyond on platform it goes. And then we look at cvs, et cetera, beyond the platforms also. But right now our focus is everything where we do commerce, it needs to be connected, needs to be activated back by shoppers. We look, as I said, this global team cuts across all these touch points and hence we know which stakeholder to engage in what way to make sure that they speak to each other in a de siloed manner.

    Lauren Livak Gilbert (42:27):

    And I think another important aspect for anyone on the call that manages retail media or sits on the same team that owns retail media, that's another aspect if you're running a retail media ad, making sure that that content matches the content that is on the PDP and you're driving to an effective PDP that is converting the consumer. So another touch point for another hot topic in the space around retail media for anyone who might own that in their space. Okay, this is always a really interesting question, so I'm very excited for this one. Kathleen, let's start with you. What was the unlock to getting leadership on board and brand alignment when it comes to content?

    Kathleen Harrington (43:09):

    So I think the key to getting people unlocked is actually paying that vision of what the efficiencies of doing a centralized organization would do. So I think everyone really looked at this is going to drive efficiencies, it's going to take it off. People doing duplication of efforts, doing more content than it could ever get leveraged. There's a lot of efficiencies to be gained. If you can paint that picture, that was a key to getting things unlocked and being able to come and centralized. So I think it just painting that vision of what it's going to bring to the organization, what is that return on investment for having the centralized organization was really key, I think because the way that our team works and we have our brand writers embedded into our team who also partner really closely with our brand teams, we were able to get brand alignment.


    There was a lot of trust already naturally built into that partnership. And then just showing them the benefit of having our organization, how they could leverage our organization for the expertise that we bring to the table when it comes to what do we need from a PDP perspective, I think that was very well received. So it's something that yes, they have to be aware of, but it's not something they're actively mining for insights to be able to come to the table with a PDP strategy. We're doing that work for them. Again, the return on investment was there,

    Lauren Livak Gilbert (44:35):

    Hey, you're saving time, you're unlocking your resources to work on potentially more strategic things. Right? So that is what I heard as the theme for your story. How about from your side?

    Shazer Baig (44:47):

    See, I would agree with Kathleen. The way we've started this transformation is that we went across value chain identifying two big, I mean all the pain points and then we collected the pain points. It could be clubbed into two big buckets. One is efficiency and we then put a number against us in terms of number of hours that are today being wasted because of let's say duplication of tasks because of people who are responsible for certain tasks not doing it. So that was the first big number that we put on the table showing that this X number of hours across the value chain is what we can potentially save. And the second one is content effectiveness. What we did was we benchmark with the leading markets. We said that if we scale like these leading markets, the right tools, the right ways of measurements, this is the potential uplift in sales that we can get.


    And we saw that in those markets. We would understand that different markets are at different maturity and hence usage of tools. When you centralize, when you desi, then you absolutely use the tools for let's say a developed market into an emerging one. So the second thing that we put on the table was a number on sales uplift, so time saving efficiency and the other one was sales uplift. When when you put numbers against pain points and you see people start rallying behind it, and it is now one of the biggest priority within the organization to drive e-commerce content and also it makes it easier. L'Oreal has been focused on e-commerce. We lead a lot of categories. So that also helps generally with the focus that we already have on e-commerce.

    Lauren Livak Gilbert (46:24):

    And one of the things that Mike and I discovered as we were doing the report is that each brand we spoke to tried to anchor on one specific storyline when talking to their executive team. So they don't need to know all of the details, but they need to understand something like search, can they understand search that if you don't have the right content, if you're not focused on search, your product is not going to be found and therefore you will not drive sales. What is that simple story that you can anchor to, that you can share with your broader leadership team that they understand the importance of content and why you need to spend the money, the resources, the time in order to be able to execute this effectively. And Mike, I saw you come off mute. Do you have anything to add to that?

    Mike Black (47:10):

    No, well it was kind of related to that. I think everybody in the audience is, there's some that are probably trying to move to the centralized structure, but there are many I think that have to fight this battle brand by brand. I was talking to a brand yesterday and he was like, my biggest challenge is trying to convince the brands that control the money to do this work. And I think the theme I took out from you is obviously at the senior level they care about the efficiencies, but I think you made a good point. It's you got to quantify the sales lift and walk into the brand teams and have that ammunition, whether it's using aggregated industry data or I think something that I've heard a lot of brands do is you're having a couple of those test and learns that you can shop around and you don't have to convince people every day, but you convince 'em with a couple of things. So I just want to cover that point that even for folks that are far from that centralized structure, if you're fighting those trench by trench or brands, I still think that idea of quantification of sail lift is a really powerful tool. So that's just what I wanted to jump in on

    Lauren Livak Gilbert (48:12):

    And if you download the report, we have other examples of stories that you can craft and that other brands have used to bring to their leadership team, like Mike said, have that ammunition to help sell in that content effectiveness piece. So definitely check that out. Okay, so can you talk about content utilization? You have a really interesting approach as to how you look at effectiveness measurement.

    Shazer Baig (48:37):

    See, so this is important from two perspective. As I said, that while our definition is expanding, we need to make sure that all this content that we create is done efficiently. And more so in today's day and age where you see gene AI coming in, you will see an explosion in the content that is getting churn out. Hence efficiency is going to be the name of the game. Now when you go and tell your global creators that you've got to create more commerce content, it sounds as if there's additional workload coming there and hence it is imperative that across your value chain you start measuring the utilization of content also. So one key KPI for us, and this is important from an efficiency standpoint for the company, for the environment, et cetera, is to measure what is the wastage of content that is happening. So what the global teams created versus what the local teams used.


    And we are measuring that to now because we've centralized and we are centralizing, we have the capability to do that. And it's important because what that does is that that frees when your certain portion of content is not being utilized, the reasons behind it, you then tell your global marketing teams that this is the sort of content that you don't need and that allows them to focus the resources on the type of content that you need. So it fees up resources to focus on what matters more, and at the same time it's environmentally more responsible and makes all the more sense to measure. So we are measuring through our content factories on what is the content that is not used. I'll give you an example. So before we, I mean started centralizing for a certain country in a certain event for a certain brand, every month they would do a campaign and every month they would refresh content for 500 sqs.


    When it got centralized and we started to look at data, people started asking questions that why do we need to refresh three 50 of these 500 which contribute less than 15% of the sales and there were no answers generally across the ecosystem. When you start then centralizing desiring and these questions start coming and then that's the content wastage that we cut. What that does is that allows us to now create, let's say more e-com first videos more e-comm first content, more diverse content for instance, which is now an increasing requirement. So absolutely we are tracking this and we are using that to rationalize our resources and spending those resources where it matters more.

    Lauren Livak Gilbert (51:04):

    Great, thank you. So we have a question in the chat and I'm wondering Kathleen or Shazer if you're comfortable talking about this, how are you thinking about AI in your content strategy? I know it's another hot topic, we can't get through a webinar without using those two letters. So Kathleen or Shazer, any thoughts you'd like to share?

    Kathleen Harrington (51:23):

    I think there's a ton of opportunity for ai. I think when we think about SEO using AI to understand search consumer behavior is really key and then you understand what those keywords are, you can infuse it into your copy and then you can drive higher search rank. So I think that is number one. And then I think there's also an opportunity when we think about the visual content of using AI to determine what is the likelihood of an image to really resonate with your target audience. So I think those are really key ways to look at it. I think there's some other things that you can look at, whether it's scraping or reviews for themes to really understand what's popping and how do you want to respond to that. I think those are the things that you should look at from a PDP perspective.

    Shazer Baig (52:10):

    So just to compliment on what Kathleen just said, see for us what the way we are looking at Jenny specifically is we've mapped this into a craft where it is complexity and maturity of tools. So on an easier to do with less barrier is of course written content with SE optimization. That's something that is a no-brainer. We are testing already using templates to create written content for new launches, refreshers, et cetera. The second on this tangent of complexity versus maturity is adaptation of content. Now I'm not talking about net new creation, but where you want to change some backgrounds where you want to change, let's say an eventing template, you want to bring in a frame, you want to change the discounts within the content. So adaptation of content is another use case, which from an e-commerce standpoint is a quick win. And we are actively testing that out in this matrix of complexity versus maturity of tools.


    The third and last one, which we are not touching right now is creating net new content because that's where mid journeys Dali of the world are still evolving. So we're very focused. We feel that this will bring 20 to 40% efficiencies in our centralized content factories where we use GNI for written content creations and where we use gene AI for adaptation of content and we're actively testing it. There's a learning curve of course, but the more you test now, the more you teach the algorithm, the LLM, the more mature it'll get. And I think that something from an e-commerce perspective is a no-brainer and needs to be done now.

    Lauren Livak Gilbert (53:51):

    And that's what we included in our crawl, walk, run sprint. But I think the key factor is you can't get to Sprint until you've gone through content compliance, content completeness, and you have a definition of content effectiveness. And all those pillars that we talked about are really clear around the people, the process, the technology, the data, the systems that are involved to then be able to optimize that content and be more efficient.

    Mike Black (54:18):

    Just to jump into, I think part of the AI element here is I think if you look at the totality, we talked about SEO, you think about retailer guidelines, you think about review sentiment, there are probably lots of little pieces that go into the optimized PDP that individually you have to take from different systems and sort of put together. So I think the power of it is some of the AI that's out there now really isn't that intelligent. There's a lot of tools that you go out there you can optimize, but it's really about I think building the right intelligence engine to pull in digital shelf data, pull in sentiment data, whatever you can, retailer requirements, get that as an input build in your brand guidelines, your exclusion roles. A lot of it is going to be, I think we're at the early stages. I think it's building that data engine there will make that go efficient I think. And ultimately is you're always going to have a part of your portfolio you just can't get to because you got so much else on your plate. So I think it's this idea of can we actually scale a lot of this to some of those middle children that don't get all the love if you're a middle child? I don't mean to say that I'm an oldest child, but I think you get my point.

    Lauren Livak Gilbert (55:34):

    I love it, Mike. Thank you. Alright. Really quickly before we close out, the link to the report is in the chat. I also wanted to mention if you have not heard about the Digital Shelf Summit that's in April. Mike and I will both be there. Mike has a session. I will be MCing the event. We will be talking about content effectiveness, ai, the customer, so scan the QR code. I will also add the link into the chat. If you haven't heard about this and I also want to bring up any information about Profitero, please sign up so you can get their emails. You can get more about the research that they're doing. Sometimes they do research with us. If you are not a member of the DSI, please do scan the QR code to become a member. Shazer. Kathleen, thank you truly so much for everything you contributed to the report for sharing all of your insights, for giving us such thoughtful answers to all of your questions. This was super, super helpful for us for the brand. So truly, truly, thank you for your time.

    Peter Crosby (56:33):

    Thanks to all our guests for allowing us to repurpose this content for our podcast audience. If you attend the Digital Shelf Summit, you can dig into this even more at a live session with humans in 3D tickets@digitalshelfsummit.com. Thanks to you for being part of our community.