In this edition, we chatted to Becca Maier, International Director of Commerce at Buzzfeed. Becca studied at Northwestern University in Chicago, USA, achieving a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and Integrated Marketing.

After summer internships across a variety of marketing departments, she began her career at Digitas LBi in NYC and soon started working at Buzzfeed as an Account Planner in 2015.

Since then, Becca has worked her way through the company, going from Account Planner to Client Services Manager, and then moving to London to work in BuzzFeed’s International division as a Client Services Strategist. In 2019, she became the Director of International Product and Monetisation and then in 2020 she entered her current position.

Becca chatted to Niamh Butler-Walton about her role at Buzzfeed, as well as her history and the trends she is seeing within the industry.

What’s your role and what does it consist of?

I am the International Director of Commerce, which essentially means that I am responsible for the growth of our international affiliate and strategic partnership business here at BuzzFeed. Our international editions at BuzzFeed include the UK, Canada, Australia, Mexico, India, and Japan. 

What do you enjoy most about the performance marketing industry?

My favorite aspect of performance marketing is that the audience is at the heart of its success. I joined BuzzFeed almost six years ago because I thought they were the only publisher that had an authentic and genuine connection with the audience it was writing for. Shopping content and our performance business is a clear reflection of that as it only works for us (and the partners we work with) if it works for our audience. 

 Who is your performance marketing hero and why?

I am sure that people say their boss all the time, but Nilla Ali is my performance marketing hero without a doubt. She is a trailblazer in the space and a role model for women in the media industry. She is constantly thinking about new ways to innovate to make the online shopping experience frictionless for consumers. She’s also honest with retailers about what needs to be done to make that work and is fearlessly up to any challenge presented to us. 

Who in your team deserves more recognition that they get? (The unsung hero)

Performance and affiliate marketing is a real team effort, especially at a publisher. The data reporting team, the site team, the lead editors and writers all deserve more recognition for the work they do. But if I had to choose one team, it would be the optimisation and growth team. You can do as much due diligence with projections pre-campaign, but when you are stuck in a rut during the campaign, the optimisation and growth team can come in and save the day with creative and outside the box strategies. A big shout to Kendall Larkin and Dariya Kizieieva for being fantastic problem solvers. 

Generally, I am so excited to see so many international retailers roll up their sleeves with publisher content affiliates. We know it is a strong model for performance, but retailers are now rethinking the way their affiliate channels work to be more inclusive of the incremental, non-conversion based performance that content affiliates can bring. Of course big publishers with massive scale like BuzzFeed can bring strong traffic to retailer’s sites – but we’ve also heard that BuzzFeed brings more new customers and customers with longer lifetime value than average traffic.

Another trend we are seeing work well in 2021 is the focus on fewer more impactful sales. 2020 was a year with heavy promotions and sales. While sales are fantastic for generating demand, we are seeing that meaningful less frequent sales end up being much more lucrative in the long run. Online shoppers (especially BuzzFeed shoppers) are much more attuned to deals and promotions than they were a year ago. They will tell you when they don’t think a deal or discount is meaningful enough. Fewer bigger sales also allow us to put a concentrated editorial push behind the moment so we don’t run into sale messaging wearout. It is more meaningful for consumers and in turn for our partners. 

How has the role of affiliate networks changed over the last 12 months?

We see affiliate networks as valuable partners in expanding our affiliate business. By having the publisher managers eager to be experts on our business and account managers being advocates for us with their retailers and brands, we have been able to educate markets much faster on BuzzFeed’s International affiliate programme. 

What one thing would you change about the industry?

This isn’t as much something I would change, but rather something that I would love to see more of in the future. There is still so much we can do to make the online shopping experience more suited for current consumer habits. I get really excited about companies like Northfolk, AGORA, and Bonsai that are solving for how to give consumers an improved experience of frictionless shopping. These innovations make it easier for consumers to evaluate what products are right for them and take less steps to then act on it if it is. It feels like we are at the tip of the iceberg and I am really excited to see what is next. 

What’s your top tip for advertisers?

Communicate with your affiliate partners as frequently and as early as possible. As a publisher affiliate, our content plans can be scheduled as early as two months in advance. Being able to provide our editorial team the full picture of what is happening with your brand allows them to keep you top of mind in their execution and could potentially provide more avenues for us to drive demand for your brand. 

What other areas of the industry can you see yourself working in in the future, perhaps?

This is a tough one as there are so many exciting new spaces and technologies emerging as online shopping grows! I am particularly excited to see where the video commerce space goes over the next few months and years. I often find myself in a TikTok or YouTube hole when I am researching products myself, so I think companies that are making video more enabled for shopping will provide consumers the shopping environment they are seeking.

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