Mindbodygreen Creates A Healthy Blend Of Commerce And Content

mindbodygreenMindbodygreen is making a credible run at the content-and-commerce model.

The health and wellness publisher, which sees around 10 million unique visitors a month, eschews traditional advertising in favor of a combination of content and commerce, “with community in the middle,” said CEO and founder Jason Wachob.

Mindbodygreen has 5,000 contributors, some of whom are celebrities or known personalities in the health and wellness space and others who are just enthusiasts. About 80% of the content on Mindbodygreen is user-generated.

Influencers from the Mindbodygreen community are recruited to pen content and shoot instructional videos on everything from meditation, yoga and fitness to nutrition, spirituality and relationships. The stories are free, but access to the related video classes costs $50-$100 a shot.

Mindbodygreen generally recoups its costs on each video within two days of releasing it, Wachob said.

“If someone reads an article about meditation, for example, it’s safe to say they want to do more than learn about it – they want to actually do it,” Wachob said. “Our commerce experience is authentic to the wellness experience. People want to take the next step, so the classes feel organic.”

That’s different from the approach taken by other publishers, most notably dude-centric food, drink and travel website Thrillist and men’s fashion flash sale site JackThreads. Thrillist acquired JackThreads in 2010 with the vision of integrating media and commerce under a single roof. The experiment failed to deliver the goods and the duo went their separate ways in late 2015.

Getting readers to make the leap from consuming an article about the 10 best oyster restaurants in New York to getting out their credit card to buy a blazer or pair of pants is actually asking quite a lot.

There’s often friction in the typical content/commerce experience, Wachob said.

“But the classes are content in and of themselves, premium content that people will pay for because it’s an extension of what they’re already doing,” he said. “They can read an article about meditation and then learn how to meditate. But if you’re reading a piece of content on a culture site, it’s hard to know if the pants they’re trying to sell you will be any good.”

Around 25% of Mindbodygreen’s revenue comes from selling access to online video classes.

The bulk of its remaining revenue comes from branded content. Wachob forswears programmatic and third-party selling in favor of direct deals with advertisers such as Nike, Target, InterContinental Hotels Group and Pepsi’s One Coconut Water.

And Mindbodygreen’s editorial team is heavily involved with the branded content it produces.

“There are no walls for us,” said Wachob, who claims that sponsored content often garners better engagement than some of the organic pieces on the site. “We’ve found that people don’t care if the content is branded or not as long as it’s good.”

Athleisure apparel brand Kit & Ace, which was founded in 2014 by the former lead designer of Lululemon Athletica, has collaborated with Mindbodygreen on a number of branded content pieces written by influencers in the Mindbodygreen community.

Although the articles allow readers to “buy the look” by clicking on embedded images, sales aren’t a KPI, said Braden Hoeppner, head of brand and ecommerce at Kit & Ace.

“It’s top-of-the-funnel marketing for us, a way to spread brand awareness and introduce Kit & Ace to people, often for the first time, in a positive context,” he said. “If you’re consuming a story, you’re probably not going to immediately shift to shopping mode, but if you like what you see and you click, that opens our ecommerce site in another tab, and maybe you start browsing, maybe you sign up for our email list and we can start retargeting you in other channels.”

Content and commerce is part of a continuum, Hoeppner said, rather than commerce acting as an immediate catalyst for the sale.

“We don’t think about it from a last-click perspective and it’s not about driving direct response,” he said. “It’s part of a media-mix ecosystem while doing what we can to make it that much easier for consumers to get to our website.”

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