How Refinery29 used a Product Feed API to build a better editorial platform

This article is continued from a series. This week we look at how media companies can double their efficiency and how Refinery29 is using…

Anjali Krishnan    3 mins

How Refinery29 used a Product Feed API to build a better editorial platform

Kingsman was the world’s first shoppable film.

This article is continued from a series. This week we look at how media companies can double their efficiency and how Refinery29 is using our standardised product data to speed up editorial workflows.

Last year the New York Time acquired HelloSociety, an influencer marketing agency and later that year it acquired product recommendation websites The Wirecutter and its sibling The Sweethome.

The Wirecutter is a product review site that works on affiliate marketing, making money when a read clicks a recommended product and purchases it on a partner retailer’s site. These are simply symptoms of a traditional media company trying to catch up with a new world. Buzzfeed’s 10 Coolest Thing you MUST have this Summer and 25 Kitchen Gadgets You don’t know You Need have driven millions in affiliate revenue.

List’s list.

Buzzfeed’s homepage being a list of listicles is a testament to the runaway success of the commerce-content marriage.

Ads and content are becoming more and more intertwined. This means that we don’t have to suffer through cringe-worthy 2 minutes jingles for chips or cereals anymore. Instead the ‘ads’ have to be good enough for us to want to watch them, read them or listen to them.

A huge number of companies have built successful businesses out of embedded product placements. Arguably the pioneer in this field have been sites like Buzzfeed, Refinery29, The Man Repeller but traditional media is catching up or trying to as evidences by the acquisition of The Wirecutter.

Role as curators

In an era where ecommerce is becoming the dominant form of retail, consumers don’t have the time or willpower to stroll down Fifth Avenue or spend days at the mall to find a perfect outfit. People increasingly make buying decisions based on product reviews or influencers recommendations.

A Nielsen study as early as 2012 found that 92% of consumers trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations above other forms of advertising. In this new era sites like Refinery29,The Man Repeller serve as curators for their audiences. They are trusted sources that help readers wade through the molasses of information and do the heavy lifting of discovery, evaluation and qualification for them.

Imagine getting a wardrobe stylist to go through your wardrobe, understand your style and recommend similar pieces for you. Influencers and seminal websites like Refinery29 have democratised that function. Wardrobe stylists were available to only a fraction of the population but a site that matches your aesthetic is a lot more accessible.

A demanding role for the editorial team

This isn’t an easy job though. Fashion trends move fast, and having to put together ALL the latest summer trends into a single piece is time-consuming when you have to pull products from Amazon and Macy’s and Nordstrom and a small store like Ursa Major VT — all of whom have their own layout, different product information and non-standardised specs. Collating it all together and getting a quality post out takes a lot of time.

Product information is discrete and has varied formats across different websites

A quality post is non-negotiable. But the time spent putting it all together adds no value to the readers and takes away an editor’s time.

Problem & Solution

That is were having a single source of truth for all product information becomes a game changer. Using a unique product code, product name or product URL, standardised product data can be pulled into content management platforms and be ready to deploy. As Refinery29 covered in their post:

Depending on how the system is built it can be as easy as dragging and adding a product, product price, image and description into an article with a single click.

A single source of truth for affiliate data = faster content generation

Smooth content management for product data is not an easy task. Ecommerce is moving faster than ever, more retailers are moving online and listings for products (both new and duplicate) are exploding.

It’s hard to stay updated and get clean structured data. Our plug&play APIs are the solution to that. Your editors will forever thank you, trust us.

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Published at: June 27, 2017

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