Industry Insights
Rodale (Publisher of Men’s Health) on Serving their Customers

carlvin-dorvilier-rodaleCarlvin Dorvilier
Online Sales Planner
Rodale
(Now Account Manager at Tumblr)

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Rodale owns and operates many famous brands such as Men’s Health, Prevention.com, Women’s Health, Runners World, and is one of the largest independent publishers of health and wellness properties in the US. From an advertising perspective, how do you bundle these properties when approach brands and agencies?

We’re not only the largest independent publisher in the US, Rodale is the world’s leading healthy lifestyle company.  We provide the most trusted and authoritative content in the industry, reaching more than 87MM consumers.   With such a large, active audience, agencies come to Rodale to effectively tell a brand’s story with content that is contextually relevant complemented by a mix of standard banners driving engagement, which includes, but not limited to; Impactful sponsorships, Rising Stars Ad Units, and Takeovers.  Rodale’s corporate digital team allows advertisers to satisfy their campaign objectives by extending it across many of our properties in one proposal.  We often utilize one of our brands to support the overall message with custom executions tailored to the digital strategy and supporting brands as an audience extension to deliver efficiency and scale.

 

There’s been plenty of hype about programmatic ad buying over the last few years, but it seems marketers and brands have been slower to adopt this mode of buying due to issues with ad fraud, viewability, and placement transparency. What is your honest take on programmatic and ‘ad tech’, and the effects it’s had on digital advertising?

It seems like, lately, all I’ve been hearing about is programmatic. Programmatic was, indeed, the buzzword in 2015 and has trickled its way down to become this unknown hot commodity uproar with big agencies, brands, and marketers in today’s trend with automated purchasing. It makes sense for advertisers to take advantage of the technology and purchase the right audience efficiently at scale.  

However, we still know that advertisers prefer aligning with relevant and strong content to deliver their message.  This last year and now in 2016, we’ve created one-of-a-kind partnerships with our advertisers rooted in custom and native content.  Marketing automation softwares are now working with solutions providers like Integral Ad Science (IAS), for example, to identify fraudulent patterns to help media buyers increase campaign performance with more viewable impressions with fraud-free bidding.  With these sorts of innovations, I see programmatic offering value and effectiveness feeding real-time information, so digital campaigns are more reactive.  To that end: the more information available, the more complex our jobs as publishers have become, but that’s what’s so great about digital!

 

It seems as if there is a major shift occurring now, with the power being put back into the publishers’ hands due to the rise of native ad units, and branded content. What type of custom executions does Rodale offer and how has your / your clients’ experience been with each?

There’s no limit to our custom executions. As a publishing company, it is our job to make sure when we are building out custom content, we are really educating our advertisers, and taking the lead on what will, and won’t work, with our users. Therefore, we create native solutions for partners in a landscape that continually demands innovative and integrated content; Native executions are great when they are done well.  For example, we create contextually relevant editorial sponsorships living across multiple of our digital proprieties acting as the main, yet appealing, hub of information for our client’s ideal target audience.  To compliment this execution,  we demonstrate the overall brand initiative from a real life perspective by tapping into our extensive social reach of over 27MM followers to create custom social sweepstakes; leveraging our talent network to fuel advocacy with famous public figures, and world-class custom content created by Rodale’s marketing to meet an advertiser’s campaign needs. There should be subtle integration of an advertiser and it is always our goal to provide our users with pieces of content they use. To that end, our clients are completely satisfied, because, we’ve not only exceeded their expectations, but they are involved throughout the process creating an experience that will never be forgotten. #liveyourwholelife

 

What type of clients does Rodale typically work with, and in what type of capacity? (eg. CPG – running a campaign with Rodale and measuring lift through Symphony IRI for increased purchases of their product)

Rodale works with advertisers across many categories (Food/Bev, Retail, Health, Beauty/Grooming, etc).  We’re proud to partner with major CPG companies in larger buys and we also have experience with smaller brands such as bike makers for our more endemic properties.  Every RFP generally has a different KPI which we’ll build a program out for.  We are adept at knowing what works well for brand lift versus getting the right users to an advertiser’s site for conversion.

 

Who are some of the 3rd party companies you work with, and in what context? (Data Providers, Location Data, Viewability & Brand Lift Companies, Ad Verification Companies, etc)

The list goes on! We work with MOAT to monitor Viewability on our sites.  That data is not only a necessity for individual campaigns, but it has largely affected the decisions we’ve made to our sites’ overall design, and the way we optimize to always deliver an optimal user experience. We recently on-boarded the DMP, Krux, which is crucial for understanding who our users are. Often times, our advertisers, will use third party vendors for their own reporting on Viewability, verification & research studies to measure their campaigns closely.

 

Can you share a little more on how the adoption of ad blocking by consumers has affected Rodale (if at all), and how the company is mitigating the problem?

Ad blocking is certainly the topic of 2016.  While ad blocking hasn’t drastically affected Rodale yet, we are taking the right steps to address moving forward.  A lot of publishers are exploring pay-wall models for users who have ad blockers.  Our content is premium and we do rely on advertising to help sustain that.  We need to make sure we’re protecting our award-winning content our editors are producing daily.

 

How does Rodale approach mobile, as it pertains to both content consumption and ads?

Rodale’s seen a large traffic shift on to mobile devices. Last year, Rodale redesigned all of our sites with a “mobile-first” mentality. A user’s experience is obviously very different on mobile than on desktop and needs to be considered that way. The challenge for advertising is that the platform is obviously much smaller to work with. To address that challenge, we’re developing fun, interesting rich media units for our advertisers.

 

What do you think is the biggest challenge that marketers face today?

Asking the right questions and fragmentation. What may work for Nike, may not work for BelVita, therefore it is crucial marketers understand who they are reaching and what is the optimal media to engage with those consumers.  Reaching the masses may seem ideal, but shifting the focus to an ROI perspective, and aligning your campaign where consumers consume their media, is what triggers retention and campaign success.  At Rodale, we believe in a bespoke mentality for all of our clients. We ask all the right questions, include all relevant media, and execute based on your immediate needs with a long-term effect.

 

Lastly, what is your take on the future of the way digital advertising is bought and sold, especially within the health and wellness category?

We’re excited about the future of digital advertising in the coming years.  Even advertisers who don’t identify as a health and wellness company, recognize the major trend and are capitalizing on it.  It’s a great time for Rodale!  To that end, our company is committed to digital and we continue to invest in our digital properties to make sure it’s the best experience for both our users and our advertisers.  In the coming years, I see the future being in automation. Clients understand their target audience, but they struggle to reach them at the right time and on the right device.  On-boarding a DMP has helped us greatly get ahead of this curve by understanding who our users are.  With attack of the machines rising, advertisers are taking more a pilot approach navigating the outcome of their digital campaigns, rather, taking the co-pilot approach allowing multiple personnel working through trial and error.  With all that being said to be true, the Health and Wellness category is unique. Although, automation will play an important role in the future, advertisers will rely on human interactions to spearhead digital advertising with the combination of programmatic to create a custom digital campaign to convey emotions, which triggers immediate action, reaching consumers at the most impactful moment of their life.  It is the digital evolution of creativity, and here, at Rodale, we’re ahead of the curve waiting for the next challenge.

 


 

Rodale Inc. is an independent, healthy, happy living company based in Emmaus, Pennsylvania and New York, New York. Known for launching the organic movement in the U.S. in 1942, the company operates today with a mission to “inspire health, healing, happiness and love in the world. Starting with you.” Through a broad portfolio of best-in-class brands, Rodale reaches more than 100 million people globally through multiple distribution channels, including magazines, books, online, mobile, e-commerce, direct-to-consumer, social, and video. With 100 editions in 67 countries, Rodale publishes the largest, most established health and wellness lifestyle brands, including Men’s Health, Prevention, Women’s Health, Runner’s World, Bicycling, Running Times, Rodale’s Organic Life, and through Rodale Events, LLC, produces 25 branded events that draw more than 100,000 participants annually. A digital leader in the healthy living space with properties such as Eat Clean, a vertical for those looking to improve their health through clean eating; Zelle, a running site for women; Rodale U, the company’s new online learning platform, and Rodale’s®, a healthy lifestyle e-tail store, the company continues to find new ways to connect with audiences across developing technologies. Rodale editors are fixtures on the national media circuit, appearing on television regularly as authorities on health and wellness. For more information, visit RodaleInc.com and follow us at @RodaleInc.

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