Content-Commerce Site Domino Appoints Media Vet Nathan Coyle As CEO

Nathan-Coyle-CEO-DominoWhen building a content-commerce brand, content comes first.

More readers will lead to more shoppers, according to home decor brand Domino. The company has appointed Nathan Coyle, an EVP at Refinery29, as its CEO to supercharge Domino’s online audience growth.

“The belief amongst the board was that among our three channels – the print publication, ecommerce and the digital media – growing the digital media business is going to be the rising tide that lifts all boats,” Coyle said.

He started in late June, taking over from co-founder Cliff Sirlin, who relaunched Domino as a content-commerce play in 2013. That was four years after Condé Nast shut down the magazine, which had a strong niche following.

Coyle led Refinery29 as the publication underwent massive growth. He also started Refinery29’s influencer program Here & Now, and he plans to do the same thing at Domino.

To grow the Domino brand, Coyle will focus on social platforms, honing the skills used at Refinery. “The rest of 2016 is unlocking audience acquisition,” he said.

Media brands are experiencing a “disaggregation of how and where content is consumed,” he added. “How that disaggregation of followings turns into revenue streams is one of the things I will be thinking about.”

Both the editorial and advertiser sides of the business will use the influencer program Coyle plans to establish. And he’s finalizing a hire who specializes in sponsored content, which Coyle will prioritize over banner advertising.

The content-commerce model has been tricky to pull off. Lucky Magazine, spun off and sold to e-commerce site Beachmint, lasted just a year before it was shut down. Refinery29 also tried e-commerce and backed away from the concept.

But home decor doesn’t have the same online shopping issues as apparel, where issues like fit come into play, Coyle said. He is also bullish about how many of Domino’s readers buy on the site.

“In terms of the data that I’ve analyzed, the ability to convert a reader online to a customer is pretty compelling,” he said.

Domino has attracted 1 million registered users. Twenty thousand customers have made purchases on the site, and 30% of those have made multiple purchases.

The site also operates in the black, Coyle said. It has an ecommerce run rate of $3 million, representing 500% growth in the past two years.

Over the next year, Coyle expects to have expanded Domino’s community. A big question is whether conversion rates for its e-commerce site will remain as strong as the community expands. Domino, which wants to add video content to the site, also has the brand equity to expand into adjacent areas, such as food and entertaining, Coyle said.

With its small but strong brand, Domino is pursuing a model with multiple revenue streams. That includes not only e-commerce and advertising, but also brand licensing, such as bedding that will be available at the Container Store, and an upcoming book on interior design. More media brands will need to think about these models, Coyle said.

“For smaller, nascent or growing media businesses, relying solely on digital ad dollars is tough,” Coyle said. “Unless you have that rarefied seat at the table, like the BuzzFeeds, Vices and Refinery29s of the world, having a diversified business with multiple revenue streams is important.”

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