On June 25, SheKnows introduced its Explorer platform, which it has been testing since early this year. In addition to the SheKnows network of verticals, 40 other publishers (including Time Inc. and ESPN) have integrated the content curation widget onto their sites, at no charge.
For the time being, SheKnows is partnering with publishers in similar
competitive sets in an effort to increase the overall size of the pie within the segment.
On the front end, Explorer is designed to suggest tagged, relevant pieces of content to users. On the back end, it offers publishers a real-time dashboard to track engagements as they are happening, and determine what types of content are performing well. Its principal objective is to encourage readers to discover more content and perhaps explore more sites through the platform. That is by no means a new concept, but the company contends that its engagement metrics are performing above expectations. That said, the data is a little incomplete and broad, stating that 25-100 percent more content is consumed through Explorer.
Philippe Guelton, CEO at SheKnows is candid about the broadness of the data, and he says the findings were from dozens of publishers, so results varied, but the bigger picture is readers using Explorer spend more time with content.
Guelton stresses the importance of deep engagements because publishers have a tough challenge surfacing the right content to users that have to sift through the clutter of search and social. And although search and social offer high volumes of traffic, typically the audience is less engaged when they come in through those portals. He also admits that publishers are at a competitive disadvantage against search and social when it comes to collecting ad dollars. Given those factors, he says "We are at a critical point where it’s important for us [publishers] to collaborate and work together."
While the platform is fully automated, Guelton points to the "human touch" as an important characteristic of the product. That is, there is human moderation ensuring the right tags are applied to the right content, and only the best content is being curated.
Explorer is not programmatically designed to surface a specific amount of editorial versus branded content. However, both Guelton and chief content officer, Lea Ann Leming, state that branded content can surface just as often, if not more often than editorial if a user’s behavior invites it. Guelton also says that a branded or sponsored content strategy will be something he and his team carefully look at as they evolve the platform.
Explorer is still in its early stages, but Guelton and Leming say there are several things in the pipeline, including video and further initiatives to encourage content discover. Also, Guelton says that SheKnows has received outside request to apply the product in other market segments, including sports and men’s lifestyle. However, he says they want to get Explorer right, before they expand outside their comfort zone.