Better Homes And Gardens Solves For Mobile, Video And Native With Site Refresh

BHG MobileWhen Better Homes and Gardens refreshed its site last week, it did so with mobile in mind.

About 50% of site visits to the Meredith Corp.-owned property happen on mobile devices, which made creating a better consumer and advertising experience on mobile a priority. But desktop got attention too, with both mobile and desktop redesigned to address advertiser viewability demands and improve audience engagement.

“The question every brand is trying to solve is: How do you best engage consumers in a noisy landscape in a way that provides a better consumer experience?” said Meredith sales SVP Marc Rothschild. Rothschild is the former COO of Selectable Media, a creator of native video and ad units, which Meredith acquired in January.

Because native ad integration was also a consideration, Better Homes and Gardens relied heavily on expertise from Selectable Media in its redesign. Native, besides improving ad viewability, also makes the site more usable and presents ad units audiences accept.

“The ads blend a lot more than they did before,” said Chief Digital Officer Andy Wilson, who oversaw the refresh. “They’re not on the standard right rail.”

The redesign also emphasizes video content and, since the refresh, video views have doubled. “Videos and listicles were hidden [before], and we had to use marketing promotions to push to those,” Wilson said.

To increase viewability – which it measures with Moat – Better Homes and Gardens made three key fixes.

One, it’s implemented “docked” ad units that stick on the page as a user scrolls down. Two, it’s only loading ads when they come in view. Finally, it looked at the site templates themselves and rearranged ads on the site where they’d get the highest viewability.

Adding Data To The Engagement Equation

Meredith’s improvements to Better Homes and Gardens’ site is one part of how it’s trying to improve engagement for advertisers. Another is context. Meredith is pairing up its engagement-focused advertising tech with its first-party data to create the kind of ads its 70 million readers want to see.

“Integrating brand messaging into our trusted conversations with [readers] is something no network is able to do,” Rothschild said.

For instance, if Meredith is working with a food brand, it can use its first-party data to understand what ingredients an individual consumer might need, and when or how often they prepare certain foods.

Meredith will use that information to create different types of custom content – like health-focused executions for Eating Well and a family-friendly one for Parents. Although many of these programs focus on driving awareness, Meredith can track consumers all the way through the purchase funnel to what Meredith can count as a conversion: saving a recipe.

Advertisers buying custom ad campaigns through Meredith often augment those programs with programmatic buys. Holistic programs “take advertisers from non-traditional media or content creation all the way down to promoting access to that content, and traditional IAB standard units [bought] programmatically,” Rothschild said.

With the refresh of Better Homes and Gardens, advertisers buying custom content will see their native and video ad units distributed in an environment friendlier to users and advertisers. Meredith plans to update its Parents and Shape websites in the near future.

“This will continue to be a trend,” Wilson said, summing up Meredith’s plans: “Focusing the user experience around mobile and improving ad product integration.”

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