2022 Roadmap with Eric Hochberger | Mediavine On Air Episode 39

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2022 is here!

NOT 2020, too.

Curious about what’s on tap for the largest exclusive full-service ad management firm in the United States? Us too!

Today on Mediavine On Air, we hear from Mediavine CEO Eric Hochberger. From the actual death of third-party cookies and the future of programmatic advertising to the features you’ve been asking for, Mediavine’s Senior Director of Marketing Jenny Guy asks it all — and it’s an episode you won’t want to miss.

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Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING] JENNY GUY: Hello. Hey, hi. Welcome, one and all, to our first episode of Mediavine’s “Teal Talk” of a new year. I can’t even believe it. But you’ve got an old host.

I am Jenny Guy, and I am still here. You are stuck with me. Hello, welcome. Guys, it’s 2022, which sounds way too close to 2020 2, as in another leveled-up version of 2020. And I don’t think there’s a single one of us who want that. None of us. None of us want that.

So I guess my question is, are we still within our trial period for this year? Because I am not sold on keeping it. Anybody? Yeah?

How about you guys? How about everyone’s coming in now, kind of rolling in? Hello, welcome. Say hi. Tell us how your new year is going. Are you off to a grand start? Did you make resolutions? Are they on track?

Tell us. Tell us how you’re doing. Say hi and let us know. I sincerely hope that you had a beautiful holiday season and that you are starting the new year invigorated.

But as always, on this show on “Teal Talk,” we are here to talk about content creation. So it is our time to quiet the noise from all the various current world dumpster fires and focus on our businesses for a little while.

So friends, as far as good news and exciting announcements, my guest today has brought both. Please join me in welcoming Mediavine CEO Eric Hochberger back to the program. Hello, Eric.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Thank you. So does that make me an old guest? I’ve been wondering that since your intro.

JENNY GUY: I mean, I’m an old host. You’re an old guest. We’re old– we’re experienced. We’re vintage.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Experienced guest, great. OK, love it.

JENNY GUY: Yeah, we’re very experienced. Everybody’s saying hi. Yes, we have people saying they want to cancel their subscription as well. We understand.

OK. So what we’re going to talk about today is all of the developments we’ve got going on. Eric put out a great blog post earlier this year, as is tradition. I think this was our fifth, our fourth or fifth, yearly roadmap, which tells us where we’re heading in the coming year.

Our other co-founder Amber puts out a recap at the end of the previous year, and then Eric puts out our roadmap for the coming year. And most of our questions come from that, along with some things that people have asked in the different groups. But if you have questions, as always, for Eric or I, drop them in the comments, and we will do our best to get to all of them.

OK. So I’m just going to dive in. We OK with that, Eric? Actually, we had a request for a baby story. Do you have a baby story for us?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Who did that come from?

JENNY GUY: Sarah. Sarah Auerswald said she’s off to a great start, hoping you are, too. Give a quick story about the new baby Eric.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Oh. The new baby Eric? Is that what we’re calling it–

JENNY GUY: No– [LAUGHS] I think there is–

ERIC HOCHBERGER: I mean, that’s fine.

JENNY GUY: I think there was a comma.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Oh, a comma, comma.

JENNY GUY: We were missing a comma– new baby, Eric.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Because I didn’t know. Maybe she knew, because this one actually does look the most like me of any of my girls. So it could be baby Eric.

JENNY GUY: Oh, really?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: It could have gone either way. Maybe that’s my story. I somehow produced for my third child a clone of me in female form. So–

JENNY GUY: A clone of you in female form.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah, hopefully much prettier, and yeah. What you want to hear about Hunter? She has– I don’t know, she’s great. Best baby ever.

JENNY GUY: She’s great. sleeps

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Through the night already. Three months old.

JENNY GUY: Wow. And she’s the new Hochberger girl. There are three.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yep. Joining the other two as well as the two female shih-tzus in my house. And my wife.

JENNY GUY: Totally– so what you’re saying, basically, is that your new baby girl looks like Patrick Wilson as well, is what you’re–

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Oh, I sure hope so. It’ll make her doppelganger week so easy.

JENNY GUY: Yeah, it’ll be [INAUDIBLE].

ERIC HOCHBERGER: I’m guessing by the time she grows up and gets on Facebook, Patrick Wilson might not be as popular as he is right now.

JENNY GUY: Maybe not, maybe not. Everyone, that’s an inside joke between Eric and I, that I have constantly told him, since I met him about five years ago, that he looks like Patrick Wilson. So that’s why I just brought that up.

And I think he’s finally accepted it. Have you accepted it?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: I’ve accepted it. I’ve embraced it. Especially since he was in Aquaman now, so now that I know he is. Yeah.

JENNY GUY: Yeah, yeah. He can sing.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Got more mainstream.

JENNY GUY: He’s been on Broadway.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Much more talented version of me, absolutely.

JENNY GUY: Multi-talented.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah.

JENNY GUY: All right, OK. So here we go, guys. As we learned from your blog post, Eric, earlier this week, and from looking at, really, any news sites that cover content creation or programmatic advertising, the big story for 2022 is– is already going to be cookies and data and privacy. That’s what we’re going to be talking about in 2022, which we’ll absolutely get to.

But before we address that whole crazy situation, I want to start with some of the other things we’re working on at Mediavine for the coming year. So in your blog post, you started with saying 2020s was going to be the decade of video, which is the actually the second decade of video, for those of us who’ve been– who are vintage and have been around, experienced. But that Universal Player has already taken care of this.

So let’s back up a little bit, give us a quick overview of Universal Player, and should everybody be running it. Tell us what it is and what we should do.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah. So I guess the reason we joke that the– or second decade of video is what we’re now calling it? OK, the second decade of video. The reason we think it’s finally able to come to a close is because the Universal Player is a solution that brings video revenue to everyone. That’s mostly where it gets its name from.

“Universal” is also because it is so much in one. That player is– if you are already running video and you’re well optimized for video, you still want to run it, because it can serve as a backfill or fill on pages where you don’t have video, or after your video ends it can hop in. So Player is a great backup solution. But it can also be your primary solution.

And on a lot of sites– actually, most sites– it out earns the regular video player. So we definitely encourage you, if you haven’t already, turn on the Universal Player and turn off your featured video. It’s doing better than ever.

JENNY GUY: OK. So everybody, regardless of if they have video, don’t have video, it’s not going to supersede my post-specific video, is that accurate, that I’ve embedded?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Absolutely. So if you made a video for that post, the Universal Player will never take the place of it unless there’s no ad. So our videos only play if there’s an ad to play so that they will stay– click to play is basically what they’re called in the industry. But a user will have to then press Play if they want to watch your video if there’s no ad.

So the Universal Player will run in that circumstance. But other than that, your video will always take precedence over the Universal Player. There’s no downside to running it.

JENNY GUY: OK. So then my question is, what role do you see– one of my questions. There’s going to be a lot. You know. You know the drill. You’re experienced.

What role do you see video playing for publishers in this year– decade? Is publisher-created video content dead? Like, is there a reason to keep doing it?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: There will never be a full substitute for publisher-created video. It is worth more than the Universal Player, because that is– the Universal Player uses what’s called outstream. When you create your own video, that uses what’s called instream. So if you’re creating short form content, and your users are watching it and watching the next video afterwards, you’re going to make the most amount of money if you run instream.

So there’s certainly value to it. And there’s also user value to publisher-created video. If that video is actually benefiting the user, you should 1,000% be creating it.

And then you’re going to get, of course, the SEO benefits. If you have a video specific to that page, our player will mark it up in what’s called schema. And you are eligible for video carousels and other video-specific searches in Google.

So you can get additional traffic by running video on your page. And if it’s a good user experience, you’re going to end up making more money as a result. So it’s still a place for publisher-created video, absolutely.

JENNY GUY: What we’re kind of stopping now is, from what I understood– and please do correct me, if I’m wrong. I know you will– we’re kind of putting a stop to the, I created one video that I’m now going to play on every page on my site every post.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Exactly. There’s no value of that to the reader. If you just create a video for the sole purpose of getting advertiser dollars, that’s what we try to put into the Universal Player. This is a better experience for readers than necessarily watching a video that wasn’t post-specific or created for their value. So that’s what we’re trying to replace with the Universal Player.

So if you have a specific video for the post, that you should 100% still run. But anything else, I would defer to the Universal Player.

JENNY GUY: Perfect. OK we had a question on here that I cannot believe I did not have in my prep doc. Someone asked, what is the percentage of revenue increase for InView ads? We didn’t have InView, and I would love to talk about it for a hot second.

What is InView? And is that something everybody should be running?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah. So InView is great. That is actually designed to improve your viewability. So it takes your existing in-content recipe, and if you’re running feed ads. And it basically creates– it uses the optimized ads for CLS, what we call the box or the placeholder that you’d already be putting on page. It basically makes the ad sticky within that.

So as the user is scrolling, it sticks with the user just throughout that box. So it creates– makes the box a little bit bigger, but it doesn’t really change the user experience. But it improves the viewability of your site drastically. I don’t have the exact numbers on me, so I’m going to try not to misquote them. But within your in-content feed and recipe, which we now have the viewability health checks, the number-one way to improve those is turning on InView.

So even if you are green or possibly even teal, you still want to improve your viewability. Advertisers buy based on your viewability. Your ads perform based on viewability. InView is a win-win.

Again, no disruption to the user experience. And it improves value for advertisers, making you a lot more money as a publisher. We can’t give you an exact RPM, because it’s going to vary, because it’s a viewability improvement. So some sites might gain more from it, but everyone’s going to gain from it. It’s not going to hurt anyone by turning it on.

JENNY GUY: It’s super subtle, too. Like, it’s not something that you’re going to look at and go, whoa. But it’s just enough to kind of make the ad move just a little bit to increase that viewability. And we’re only talking about in-content ads. That’s the only thing that’s being impacted by InView. None of the other ad units are getting– OK, just making sure.

Just making sure. OK. Let us talk a bit about Mediavine’s WordPress products. We’re talking about Create and Trellis. What is on tap for them in 2022? Are there any special features or offers that we should know about? Let’s start with Create.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah. So Create may not have had the biggest year in 2021. It was more of a growing year internally for the team. So we built up the team that’s been working on Create quite a bit. And we were working on bug fixes. The last release was mostly just bug fixes.

So maybe it seemed a little boring for you, but that was really putting a lot of awesome things in place for 2022. So it’s actually going to be a really big year for Create. And we’re excited for this. We had a lot of feature requests over the years that are finally coming out this year.

Some of those include the ability to multiply the number of servings so if a reader wants to, say, double all your ingredients, they can do so; improve calculation of ingredients or nutrition facts so you can actually see what individual ingredients are contributing if you want to be able to exclude or modify things. So a lot of really cool improvements are coming to Create that our publishers have been asking for years. And now they’re able to get them thanks to the awesome team we’ve built in 2021. So 2021 kind of the maintenance year, setting things up for a great year with Create. So very exciting.

JENNY GUY: What is Create, Eric?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Oh, man. I should start with that. So if you’re not running Create, Create is what we call your most valuable content. It helps you structure– whether it’s a recipe post, it will be a recipe card. If you’re, let’s say, a craft or a how-to blogger, it’ll structure that into how-to schema for Google.

So it can improve your SEO. It’s a great user experience. The pages look beautiful when you run Create. And of course, everything is optimized for speed and ads.

So if you are not running a recipe card or how-to card, you should absolutely be running it. In addition to that, we have lists inside of Create. And publishers use those in the most creative of ways. We see a ton of them using it for affiliate marketing. So they’re awesome to be able to put together a list of top 20 Amazon subscribe and save, you should add to your cart right now. So a lot of publishers are seeing success with it as affiliate.

But it’s also great just to link, too. You can do a roundup post with it. You can do, these are 20 must-have– must-make recipes. So lists are very flexible. So you have how-to, recipe, and lists are the main ways in which you can use Create today.

JENNY GUY: It’s basically a way for any– well, I won’t say any. I will say most niches of any lifestyle to optimize and to earn maximum amount from the money part of their post, from the place where people are scrolling down to reach. This is where people want to go– your packing list, your top 10 list, rundown of the most cool things to see, the food, all of those things, like the recipe card, all of those things. That’s what Create is.

OK. We just had somebody ask a question about Trellis. So let’s give a little background. What is Trellis? And anything exciting going on with it right now?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah. So Trellis is our WordPress theme framework. So similar to what you might think of something like a Genesis type of theme framework. So it’s not necessarily just your child theme, but it’s the actual framework. But it’s written from the ground-up for speed. So it’s optimized for Google Core Web Vitals.

So we have something like 80% of publishers that are running Trellis are passing Core Web Vitals, because it’s basically more or less the Easy button. So if you don’t have a lot of technical resources, you have probably learned that passing Core Web Vitals is very challenging to do on your own. But it’s not with Trellis.

You basically get our team of engineers to help you pass, because we have built all those speed optimizations into Trellis itself. In addition to that, we offer three free child themes with the purchase of Trellis. And they will help your site look beautiful. And you can customize them if you don’t like the look of those three.

So Trellis is flexible. But most importantly, it is built for speed and optimized for ads. So it can help you get more traffic and make more money.

JENNY GUY: OK. Everybody, we’ve got a couple of questions now. Alex and someone else asks, will there be more child themes available for Trellis?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: All right. So one of the fun things that we’re working on in 2022 that we can talk about are Trellis blocks. So the idea of using Gutenberg to customize them– so whether it’s your home page, a category landing page, or even an individual post, to make it look beautiful and templated.

So if you’re not getting exactly what you want out of one of the current child themes, we first want to encourage you to use Trellis blocks, because we think you’re going to be able to customize the look and the layout of your current site just by using Gutenberg and using these blocks. You might be able to create that home page that you want without even changing child themes. That’s going to be our first goal before we create any new themes, is better helping publishers customize the current ones.

JENNY GUY: And that’s exciting in that you’ll be able to create some of what I’ve heard most requested and what we’ve talked about the most, are static home pages, or a way to make– so what are the advantages to creating one of those static home pages?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: So I think they’re great for, obviously, SEO purposes, which is probably where, I think, a lot of our publishers first heard about these, for me personally, and that is create a static home page. Because you don’t just want to deliver Google your 10 most recent posts. And you probably don’t want to even deliver your readers your 10 most recent posts.

Think about a reader, when they first experience coming to your site with your home page. You really want to be able to highlight some of your most popular, or would I like to call your cornerstone content. So it might not even just be your top posts, it might be some of your top categories. It might be an intro type of post.

Whatever does well with Google and with your readers, you want to go be able to highlight on your home page. So that’s really where static home page has a great advantage compared to what’s called just the regular WordPress loop or just showing your 10 most recent. You’re really able to customize that experience for both the users and for Google.

JENNY GUY: And for brands that are potentially coming to look at you for sponsored work. Because we know that the majority of your readership are not going to your home page. The people who are going to your home page are those brands that are looking at you or evaluating you or vetting you for a potential sponsored campaign.

So you want to put your best foot forward. You want to control the things you can control, which you can’t control always the Google algorithm. You can’t control a lot of different things. But you can control with the static home page, the front door of your house. You can make that as beautiful and put your best foot forward. And that’s what that’s for.

OK. Annie Pelzner says, when are these blocks supposed to come out?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: It’s a great question. So I’m not allowed to give dates anymore, because we learned the last time I gave a date with Trellis we didn’t maybe hit it exactly. So I’m going to be a little vague on purpose. It’s going to come this year in 2022. They’re actively being worked on.

Hopefully we’ll be testing them. We always do everything extensively tested, especially with something as important as Trellis, which is your theme. So we will begin testing first and hopefully get them out this year.

JENNY GUY: Ellen Folkman says, I just loaded Trellis on January 2, and I have not had one spam comment since doing so. So much better than what I was using. I’m in love with it already. I’ve not had time to delve into all the nuances of it and hope to when my son heads back to college. We love to hear that, Ellen.

And we also have a special offer going on now if you’re interested in Trellis. We do have 20% off your first year of Trellis or your first month of Trellis. The code is running down at the bottom of the screen if you are interested in that.

Now is a great time to do it. It’s our new year new theme. And go for it down at the bottom. That is one thing that, even if we take a break on our low-carb, whatever we’re doing, New Year’s resolution, this will keep working even if you stop on your site for a little bit. So give that a shot.

OK. I think that I got all the Trellis comments in the question– in the loop here. But we all started going to quite a few questions about Grow. And are we working on Grow bugs? Will we offer a lower session number? Will Grow get an official mail agent?

So there’s a lot of questions. So I think we should just go ahead, address the elephant in the room, the elephant that is so rudely eating all of the third-party cookies in Chrome. That’s a really rude element. And I’m going to be perfectly honest here.

With all the delays and dire predictions, it kind of seems like much ado about nothing. So I’m going to go ahead and ask, are third-party cookies really going away in Chrome? Like, really, really? Is that a real thing that’s happening?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: According to Google, it is really, really happening. Obviously with the delay, a lot of people have probably felt the same as you. And it doesn’t feel like it’s as impending or it’s happening. But I would encourage you all to look up– no, that was a bad reference to that movie.

It is happening. No matter what, it is going to happen. And the reason why is because you have to look at growing privacy concerns from readers. Forget about what Google says. Look at the trends of what readers and their expectations are around privacy.

There’s a reason why Apple is betting so hard on privacy, because it’s working right. They’re convincing users that they should be purchasing iPhones. They should be running Macs. And they should be using Safari, because it is the better or safer browsing experience.

Chrome and Google can’t ignore that. If this continues to change, Google doesn’t have a choice. They have to move to a more privacy-centric model. And that can’t include third-party cookies as they are today.

So I think Google doesn’t have a choice. We all want to look at them as the bad guy that are eating our cookies. But they’re just responding to what the industry is going as a whole, whether they’re on it or not. So I think we actually all want Chrome to get rid of cookies. Because if it doesn’t, it won’t compete.

And Chrome is, quite frankly, the thing that innovates most of the web. Whether you realize it or not, most programmers can tell you this. Chrome and Chromium-powered browsers are without a doubt the best from an engineering standpoint in terms of innovation. So we want Chrome to stick around, trust me.

So we do want them to get rid of third-party cookies. It will happen.

JENNY GUY: So what is a third-party cookie?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: It’s a great question. And very hard to explain.

JENNY GUY: Take a deep breath. Take a sip of cold brew. Get prepared.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Oof, I don’t know if you want more cold brew before I give a description of third-party cookies. We’ve got to slow it down. All right,

So a cookie is basically an adorable word to describe how websites store information about you as a user. So they’re using a lot of very good ways or innocuous ways, such as making it so you can log into a website. I’m sure we all love that. It remembers us after we log in and we come back to a site. It’s a pain in the butt when it forgets us when we already logged in.

So third-party cookies are a way in which you can basically share cookies between different websites, but not necessarily where you could snoop other people’s. So that’s the important distinction of a third-party cookie, is that Bank of America would have to say, basically, anyone can use this cookie and give access to it. So don’t worry, it doesn’t happen.

But third-party cookies are– now I’m going to give you an example of when you’d want a third-party cookie. So you know Facebook comments at the bottom of all pages as you browse different websites? Do you want to have to re-log in to Facebook as you go to each of those different pages? Probably not. That’s where third-party cookies make sure you’re automatically logged in as you go to the next comment, the next site with Facebook comments.

That is going away. That is going to be one of the perks of third-party cookies that is going away. Because unfortunately, third-party cookies are not always used in the best ways. So keeping you logged in, good. Using them for tracking, not always so great.

Because they’re not transparent with you. You have no idea who’s dropping a cookie, what they’re storing about you, and who has the access to basically do it. And you don’t have control of this as a publisher. As crazy as it is, we don’t even have control of it as your ad management company.

Once you allow any third-party scripts on the page, cookies get dropped, and people have access to things. So there are better ways that we can share data between sites. And that’s where the Privacy Sandbox, which is the new initiative by Google and the W3C, are coming up with better ways in which we can share data across sites in privacy-centric ways.

So third-party cookies, again, can be used for a lot of good. But over the years, they’ve been kind of used and abused. So we’re looking for the next version of them.

JENNY GUY: OK. So we understand Google has basically been put into a corner. They don’t have a choice. They have to do this. Whether they want to or not, don’t want to do. This is the way that the user– the user base of the web, which is the entire world, wants things to move.

Why are there all these delays? Why do we keep getting deadline– do you have any– I know this is– you don’t work at– he works for Mediavine, remind everyone. In case you did not know from the Teal office. Eric is employed at Mediavine, not at Google.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: You can’t see the logo on my polo right now. I promise. Not a Google employee.

JENNY GUY: He’s standing– So this is speculation, but why is this happening?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: All right. So Google is responding to, as I’ve said, reader pressure to do this. But unfortunately, there’s other pressure right on Google. Some of it may be coming from, I don’t know, a government body. Some of it may be coming from the industry and where they make their money, advertising.

So Google couldn’t just shut off third-party cookies if there weren’t solutions in place. They wield an absolute ton of power within the advertising industry. They shut off cookies, and no one was prepared for it, they would crush ultimately a lot of businesses if people weren’t ready for it.

And when their deadline came up, they did not feel the industry was ready as a whole for them to just pull the cookies out. So they delayed the death of the third-party cookie until the end of 2023, or during 2023.

So it is not this year. But this is our last full calendar year with third-party cookies. And next year is a slow phase-out with them. So it’s going to be happening throughout next year, the disappearance of them.

So the delay is really for all of our benefit. So thank you,

JENNY GUY: We will take it. Thank you, Google. OK. What will it mean for Mediavine publishers once they’re gone? And what can we do? I wrote that three times. What can we do, with lots of Os.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah. So I think there’s a lot we can do, first off. But what will happen if we did nothing? I’m going to give you the worst-case scenario. The industry predicts about a 60% drop in revenue. This actually came from Google.

When we’ve run tests, we’ve even seen higher percentage drops when you don’t have third-party cookies. So if absolutely nothing, we’re done, which would have happened if they just disappeared last year and nobody did anything. It would have been about a 60% drop is what they’re estimating.

So that would be pretty devastating, right? But that’s not what we think is going to happen, especially from Mediavine publishers. Because we’re going to do a lot of mitigation efforts.

The first is, as I mentioned, there are replacements for third-party cookies coming through. What’s called the Privacy Sandbox, we recently joined the W3C so that we can help have a greater influence on what these replacements look like. So we’re working on behalf of publishers to make sure that the new standards are as beneficial to independent publishers as we can help them be.

So there are replacements coming that should help mitigate somewhat. But they’re never going to be a full replacement for third-party cookies. You can’t replicate that without giving up something if you’re going to try to make– it’s a balance. To make things more privacy-centric, you have to give up some ability to track and some of the power of third-party cookies. And that’s actually a good thing.

But again, we want a multi-pronged approach here at Mediavine. So part of is going to be the Privacy Sandbox. But a very large part of it is this growth– and you’ve probably heard us talking about– and that is first-party data and authenticated traffic. So those are actually two different things. But those are solutions that we’re running through Grow to help our publishers not just mitigate but make more.

Because when third-party cookies go away, everything is going to come down to what’s called the first-party, or the publishers. The publishers will be the only ones that can provide that value or data about readers. Because it is going to be ultimately our sites and our control. So we see this as a good thing– again, a chance for publishers to make more money.

JENNY GUY: So when we say first-party data, that essentially equals publisher data, is what we’re saying.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah. So in our context, when we say first-party data, we mean Mediavine and publishers. We look at ourselves as a publisher when we’re saying first-party data. We’re going to be the ones helping provide the data to advertisers as opposed to third parties, who are able to do that with third-party cookies.

JENNY GUY: OK. That was an excellent explanation. Thank you for explaining all of that. I appreciate it.

We have a lot of questions about Grow. But first, you’re saying Privacy Sandbox. But also, there were birds at one point. Is the Privacy Sandbox replacing the birds? Why– I guess my bigger question is, why are us, we, Mediavine, going so hard at Grow instead of just relying on the sandbox or the birds, or whatever Google is doing at this point?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah. So the sandbox is where all the birds live and hang out. They all–

JENNY GUY: Oh, OK.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: They’re all in there.

JENNY GUY: There’s so much–

ERIC HOCHBERGER: So when you hear names like FLoC or FLEDGE, or– I can’t even remember all the birds now, because there was just way too many of them. Pelican and Parrot are sticking out as well.

JENNY GUY: There was a Pelican.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah.

JENNY GUY: I remember the Pelican. That was a year ago. So, so 2021.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: So the birds are still around. There’s a new version of FLoC coming out. So we helped test the early version of FLoC. There were some privacy-related concerns around it. They’re bringing back a new version that we’re going to help test.

FLEDGE is coming out, which is– gives a little more control to publishers than FLoC did. So there’s a lot coming out. But again, as I mentioned, none of it is going to give the full replacement to a third-party cookie. Even Google says– and every one of their announcements when they say, here’s the Privacy Sandbox, they say, but the most important thing is going to be first-party relationships and first-party data.

Read any blog post by Google. Even the people who are pushing Privacy Sandbox more than anyone, which are the main force behind at Google, are still telling you the value is in your data. So there’s a reason why Mediavine is also betting big on products like Grow. We want to make sure that we don’t just mitigate and say, oh, now it’s only a 20% loss because we’re running Privacy Sandbox.

No, we want to come out and make more money. If our publishers make more money, we make more money. We all do better as an industry.

JENNY GUY: OK. I have a lot of Grow questions in the comments. So get ready. OK. Going back up, here we go.

What is the plan to generate more traffic from Grow, one. Two– they said, we get lots of saves, very little traffic. Two, when will we be able to incorporate Grow logins with site features, like hidden content, saved recipes, et cetera?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah. So the first one, getting more Grow traffic. So one, it’s actually– you’re probably getting more Grow traffic than you realize. One of the things is we had to make a change just due to a limitation of Google Analytics that if Grow increases the amount of traffic on your page, and we were accrediting it to Google– sorry, crediting it to Grow inside of Google Analytics, it made it look like it was a new session. And so a couple of our publishers didn’t love how that behavior was.

So it looked like suddenly there was a drop in how much traffic Grow was sending you, but it wasn’t. It’s actually significantly decreasing your bounce rate, increasing your session duration, your pages per session. Something like The Hollywood Gossip, I think, gets almost a 10% increase from just recommended content alone.

So Grow is probably providing you more traffic than you realize. It’s just not showing it the same way as it did in your Google Analytics. So one thing we’re working on is a new Grow dashboard to hopefully be able to better show you these things given those Google Analytics limitations.

JENNY GUY: We actually had a question from Rachel that said, I’d love to be able to know how many of my readers are subscribing to Grow. When I look at my analytics, which event is the indicator that they have subscribed? She assumes it’s the subscribe inline success. Is that correct? [INAUDIBLE]

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah so we fire Google Analytics events. And someone could link to– I think we have a help article that explains what they all are, because there are so many of them. I can’t remember the exact name of it, but that does sound correct. But that’s the one that says they subscribed.

JENNY GUY: We had another question asking about when will be– when will we learn more about the Grow users and their behavior? Right now, we only have the analytics linked to Grow data. We do have the dashboard coming. That’s accurate. And it will be available to all publishers.

It will be separate from the Mediavine dashboard. Is that right?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: The current plan, yeah, is to build a new dashboard. Separate from the Mediavine earnings, you’re going to have a Grow dashboard to get that data.

JENNY GUY: OK. So we have all of those happening. We’ve got a dashboard coming. We have other things coming with Grow. But can we start first with a rundown of what current features we have that were available with Grow?

Because I think for me, sometimes it can be hard to explain Grow, because there are so many different things about like with email, but it’s also like social, and it’s also like– so it’s difficult for me. So can you explain the features? And why are there so many features?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah.

JENNY GUY: Sorry, I just snorted.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: So I think an important– no, yeah, Grow does that to all of us. So Grow is like kind of a Swiss army knife. It offers you a toolkit, set of tools for you to use on your website. And different websites will use different tools in order to be able to provide value to their readers in exchange for them logging in.

That’s ultimately the goal of Grow– getting the user to log in, or in some way consent to personalize ads and allowing you to generate first-party data. In order to do that, you need to convince the reader there is value to them agreeing to do so. Why else would they be giving you this data? So it’s a series of tools.

And again, you may not even be using them all or even know all of them exist, because there are so darn many of them. So I’m going to go over some of them. There is, first off, where we get the root of Grow, Grow Social. You have social sharing features inside the Grow logo at the bottom. So if someone clicks on that little Share icon, you could probably get a bunch of Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest shares directly from that widget down below. That’s an awesome just bonus everybody gets by running this.

Then there’s features like search. So you can actually integrate natively within your search box, or you can allow it so when a user clicks on, again, that little Share icon, or they can also search within your site. There’s recommended content, which is either the What’s Next feature in the bottom right. You can do the little carousel up at the top on desktop.

You can do inline, which is the best performing, where it shows actually in your content additional posts–

JENNY GUY: Ah, slow down. OK. So we’re just talking about the feature recommended content. That’s the one that you just said The Hollywood Gossip gets like a bajillion amount of traffic from. And you just said three different ways where that thing could go.

So slow down. Tell me what recommended content is and where it can go. I’ll try not to snort again.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: So recommended content– no, no, you should. Again, this is how excited we all get by Grow. So recommended content in Grow is– basically uses machine learning or artificial intelligence, similar to something like Netflix, where Netflix gives you recommended shows based on the current shows you watch or other shows you have watched.

It’s not always going to be related content. So a lot of times, you may see Netflix showing you something that makes no sense to the show you just watched, but you’re probably going to like it, because Netflix knows which what you sit there and watch and binge, right?

JENNY GUY: Which is creepy but also awesome.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Right. So hopefully, we’re not as creepy with our recommended content. But the similar idea, right? We can see based on what users have been clicking on your site and on other sites and recommend them great content from your site that may not, again, be directly related to the post. But it’s going to be what your user is most likely to click on. So you give up a little bit of control.

And we were happy to do so in The Hollywood Gossip, because, strangely enough, someone reading something about the Duggars might be likely to click on something not about the Duggars. Maybe there’s no more current Duggar news, and they want to move onto, I don’t know, some Kardashian–

JENNY GUY: Jersey Shore.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah, Jersey Shore, whatever else we’re into these days. So again, recommended content goes based on what users are most likely to click and then read. So it’s using both of those data points more so than what the actual content is itself. But it uses a combination of the two.

And it gets incredible results, which is why the Hollywood Gossip gets a 10% click through rate instead of, I don’t know, 1/2% when we used our old kind of more related content.

JENNY GUY: OK. So we’ve got Social, social sharing. We’ve got recommended content.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: And search.

JENNY GUY: Search, yes.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: OK. We’re going to keep going. I’m going to try to go quick. And then the next one is Subscribe. And Subscribe is a whole suite of features now.

And Subscribe is the idea of helping you as a publisher build your newsletter. So it’s getting readers to sign up for your newsletters. This is separate from Grow. So this is not necessarily getting them to log in to Grow but providing you with your own way of building your relationship with your readers, which is extremely important.

So Subscribe, basically, consent on your behalf. And then we’re able to share that email address with you either, through a CSV you download directly in our dashboard, or through Zapier it can hook it up direct to your ESP, or Email Sending Provider.

JENNY GUY: Service, I think.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Email Sending–

JENNY GUY: Service– Email Service–

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Email Service Provider. That sounds better.

JENNY GUY: Yes, it does.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: So many acronyms in this– crazy world.

JENNY GUY: There are. So OK. So then but also– so OK, why, then, if it’s not connected to Grow is it a part of Grow? Is it not going to get us what we need with Grow? Because I’m confused.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: No. And rightfully so. So we have this concept of what’s called authenticated traffic. And again, that means a user logged in to Grow on your site.

And so one of the things that Subscribe does a great job of is that after they sign up, they just type their email address, it’s a natural flow for them to finish creating the rest of their account, which can be basically one or two buttons away at that point once they typed in their email address. Think about when you go to create an account somewhere. They’re already halfway there. It’s super easy to create a Grow account.

So it becomes almost like you can think of it as a lead generation for users signing up for Grow. And we thought it was very important to get you that email address as quickly as we could for your newsletter so that it can become more valuable to you as a publisher. So we made that conscious decision.

We don’t want them to have to first log in to Grow in order to then subscribe to your newsletter, or that would significantly hurt your ability to grow, again, your relationship with readers. So think of it as lead generation. So a good percentage of people do go on to create that Grow account.

JENNY GUY: OK. Now, talking about the subscribe list that we’re getting from Grow, which is not related to– we don’t have– yeah. I’m not going to try to repeat it. So the Grow list could be exported to a provider like Mailchimp, Aweber, Mailerlite.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yes. We personally use Mailchimp for our own sites, The Hollywood Gossip and Food Fanatic. And those are integrated through Grow and Zapier today. It goes right to Mailchimp every time someone signs up in that newsletter.

JENNY GUY: OK. What is Spotlight Subscribe?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: So Spotlight Subscribe is probably the thing you have seen on websites. And that is as you’re scrolling, I kind of graze out the rest of the page and puts a spotlight on an in-content newsletter subscription or subscribe widget. So it’s not a pop-up, much better experience, doesn’t block the whole page, doesn’t drive your readers insane, but still has pretty darn good conversion.

Obviously not the same as a pop-up, because there is nothing like a pop-up that completely stops the user from doing anything else. But that’s probably a good thing to not be running them. So Spotlight has a very high conversion but not quite pop-up level conversions.

JENNY GUY: It is awesome, guys. It works. We have it on the Mediavine corporate site. It– it just works. Like, I don’t know what else to tell you. And it doesn’t piss people off.

So it works, plus doesn’t piss people off, to me says, yes. Also, it’s free. So OK. We have those things. So we have an email, we have social. We have a way to– multiple different ways to optimize your existing content. Those are the things that exist.

Yes, Ellen just said Grow is free. Ellen is correct. Grow is definitely free to Mediavine publishers. So let’s do the thing that we’re here to do, which is–

ERIC HOCHBERGER: I’ve got to do the last one.

JENNY GUY: Oh, sorry.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: It’s also a favorite.

JENNY GUY: I’m sorry. Yes.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: One more feature favorite.

JENNY GUY: One more feature.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: And that is where you see the Save Recipe button, where you can integrate with WP Recipe Maker or with one click, you can turn it on for Create. So both of those cards support the ability to save recipes directly to Grow.

And again, same thing– you can think of it as a great chance where it encourages users after they save a recipe, hey, why don’t you go create a Grow account so that you can keep these throughout the entire internet? So it’s a great source of lead generation, again, to getting users to log in to Grow. So you should definitely be running that if you’re running either WP Recipe Maker or Create.

JENNY GUY: OK. What’s coming? And I know that a lot of what’s coming is related to Subscribe, because that’s– why are we investing so much into Subscribe features?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Again, we think one of the biggest things that we’re going to see to change in this next year or two is publishers not just taking control of their data, so not just first-party data, but taking control of their relationship with readers. Right now, a lot of us are utterly reliant upon either search traffic or social traffic. And you can’t necessarily predict either of those algorithms, as we’ve all learned.

There’s an ebb and flow with both of those sources. And it’s great if you’ve balanced between the two of them. But there’s a third one. And this is why people love newsletters so much, is it’s your control. You pick when you send. It’s your relationship with the reader.

So we think Subscribe is going to be incredibly important in the new era of the internet coming in the next few years. So we’re betting real hard on Subscribe and helping our publishers grow their newsletters. But also, Subscribe is a great source of again, like I said, people who sign up for Grow. So there’s another reason we’re doubling down. We’re making sure that we’re helping you build authenticated traffic and your newsletters simultaneously.

JENNY GUY: How are we doing it?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: So a big feature that’s coming in addition to Spotlight is going to be– or Spotlight is already out. But the next big feature is what we call exclusive content. So exclusive content is how you can mark either sections of a page or an entire page that only users who have logged in and subscribed to your newsletter can get access to.

The conversion is unbelievable. It’ll actually leave pop-ups in the dust with how well it converts people to your newsletter. They may find it as annoying or more annoying than a pop-up, though, fair warning.

But if you pick the content that it does well on, so content that truly is exclusive, and they should give you something in return, you can drive significant newsletter growth. And more importantly, because they are actually now creating a full Grow account and logging in to get it, you’re also getting that authenticated traffic. So every one of those users will make you more money and sign up to your newsletter to hopefully come back.

JENNY GUY: And it’s not going to be nearly as annoying as The New York Times, which is not– we’re talking about a freewall, not a paywall. We’re not asking people to pay. All we’re asking them to do is consent to being served personalized ads.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah. And again, the login process is incredibly easy for Grow. And the beauty of Grow is that they create an account once on, let’s say, My Baking Addiction, and then go ahead to the Hollywood Gossip. Yes, that same account works on both. They’re still going to be asked to subscribe to your newsletter, but they won’t have to create a new account in order to get access to that exclusive content. So as you see this adopted by more and more sites, it becomes less and less friction to a reader.

JENNY GUY: OK. We have a, how will exclusive content impact SEO?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Love that question, because–

JENNY GUY: I knew you would.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Because it was designed by Mediavine, you can imagine that that was one of the first things we worried about and tested. So there’s actually a Google schema for paywalls, or also for freewalls, where you mark which of your content is behind that freewall.

Google is not crazy. They know that now most of the web is behind these kind of paywalls. You see almost every news organization has moved to them. Spoiler again– third-party cookies are going away. First-party relationships are all that matters. Follow what they’re doing.

It is what we are now doing. We’re giving access to independent content creators to do the same. So it does not impact SEO, because we use that markup that Google asks you to.

And we’ve already tested this, and have been testing it, on both The Hollywood Gossip, Food Fanatic, and some of our own internal employees who run blogs. We’ve been testing on our sites, no drop in rankings, at all, from running this, because, again, we use that schema markup.

JENNY GUY: Love that there is a schema markup for it. I mean– yes, exactly. OK. So in terms of Subscribe, I’ve understood that there are some specific features coming to that that people are asking for, that have been requesting, and we are doing it. Because we– while Subscribe has been our chief driver here primarily– so far, what we’ve seen is that the majority of our conversions for Grow are coming through the Subscribe feature.

So with that being true. What if I don’t have a newsletter?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: So that’s a great question. We want everyone to be able to run Subscribe. We want everyone on Mediavine. It is going to be the way that we all come out ahead. And we recognize that there is a very large percentage of Mediavine publishers that don’t have a newsletter today.

Running a newsletter is both expensive and often very time-consuming. People that do newsletters and do it well put significant time into them, as you can listen to many Lives that we’ve done with people that are very good at this. And it sounds incredibly daunting probably when you hear people talk about it. A lot of people are like, sign up for one of these email classes, and they’re like, I still can’t do this myself because of the time commitment or, again, cost.

JENNY GUY: No time. And it takes setup time to get there. Just because you start it immediately, it’s not going to instantly start giving you an ROI. So you’re talking about taking time from something else and putting it in that bucket for no promised return.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Right. So one thing we’re building is kind of a newsletter lite– a solution for people that are getting into newsletters. They’ll be able to turn on this feature within Grow, and Grow will take care of sending out your newsletters automatically for you. It’s going to use our recommended content engine along with the new content that you’re posting, and making sure that we are sending out newsletters automatically on your behalf to your readers that have subscribed.

Again, this is a feature that is optional. But this is great for people that do not have newsletters. Or even if you do have a newsletter, it’s something you might want to consider. I cannot wait to retire the manual effort going on for our own sites and hand it over. On something like The Hollywood Gossip and Food Fanatic, where we do have existing newsletters.

So it’s something that is for both people that don’t have one but really important for people that, again– sorry, it’s most important for people that don’t have one but even great for people that do.

JENNY GUY: I can’t say enough, but I think Betsy said it for us all, which is the comment that’s currently posted, which is, “shut the front door, Eric!” So what, you’re saying–

ERIC HOCHBERGER: That’s the best part that I haven’t even said. It’s going to be free. So–

JENNY GUY: Wait, what?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Right. So there will be no charge to our publishers for running these newsletters. So no cost based on the number of subscribers, or number of contacts, or number of emails you send. It’s just a feature you turn on. And if they signed up for a Grow account and subscribed, we will send on your behalf for free.

JENNY GUY: Betsy wanted us to also shut the back door, which means we have locked someone inside your house. And that’s what we’re doing. That’s how we’re building your first-party data and authenticated users. Exactly. Exactly, Betsy.

OK. We have a whole, whole lot of other questions here. But the primary one is, what is the time frame for this newsletter lite?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: I can tell you something that we’re actively working on today. Again, I stay away from dates these days after the fun Trellis launch. But should be–

JENNY GUY: Not allowed to.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: I know. Not allowed to give dates any more. Coming soon. Again, our goal is– this one is definitely coming this year, because it’s the thing we’re actively working on today.

JENNY GUY: So your recommendation is, because we’ve had a lot of people say, I don’t have a newsletter, turn it on now. Because you will have a way to have a newsletter, even if you don’t want to take the– turn on Subscribe. Turn on the Spotlight feature. Start collecting those users now. Do it. Right, yes?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah, I think I would recommend running it even today, even if, again, you don’t have a newsletter today. We’re going to help you get one in the future if you don’t have one. And again, this is newsletter lite.

We think it’s still a path to everyone should have their own newsletter. So even if you’re starting with user lite in the future, we still want to help you grow that relationship with your readers. And the only way to do that is if you start collecting those subscribers now. It takes a long time to build up an audience.

JENNY GUY: It’s also a way to test it. Like, you could never test it before without investing great amounts of time and at least some money to get an account started with one of the ESPs. This is the way to test it out, see what’s going on, see if it actually is something that’s converting for you, you’re driving traffic to your site, all of those things. Then, yeah, you can go back in and do it.

OK. We have so many questions. One of them is, one of the things that you talked about a lot in your blog post was, this is the year that publishers take back their relationships with readers. Can you tell me– first of all, I love that concept. You told it– you said it to me in Slack, I got very excited.

I want to know what you mean by that with Grow and why it’s so important that we do it at this juncture. Because what I’m hearing you say all the things. And I don’t want to make a big deal out of it. We all know I’m dramatic. But I don’t want to make a bigger deal out of it than it is, but everything I’m hearing sounds like the web is changing pretty significantly. And so there’s really no way to not do some significant changes with it. So tell us what you mean by this.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah. So again, I think you don’t have to look any further than going to most major news sites to know the future of the web does not look like what it looks like today. You can already see the changes happening. So it’s very important we all get in on this early as we can.

The reason I’m saying that I think that this is the year we take back ownership of that is you have to look at what are traditionally called the walled gardens, or places like Facebook. When you get traffic from Facebook, it’s great. But it’s an anonymous user that came to your site from Facebook. And then they go back to Facebook when they’re done.

Same thing with Pinterest. Same thing with Google. As much as we love all three of those as traffic sources to our sites, end of the day, it is their traffic. It is theirs to take and give as they see fit.

And again, those readers don’t look at it as, I visited– or whatever you do. They look at it as, I clicked on a recipe from Pinterest. Think about how non-bloggers talk about the websites they visit. I saw this recipe on Pinterest. They certainly don’t even know your blog name.

This is our chance to change that. We can become the destinations for our readers. And that’s the thing that newsletters give us. When they get an inbox, it’s personalized. It’s from your site.

They didn’t go and say, oh, I got this email from Pinterest and clicked on it. No, they got this email from, or whatever you do. It is your relationship with the reader.

And this is the year I think that it becomes a big deal, because it’s going to be such a big part of your first-party data strategy as well. Because again, they came from your email inbox. You know who they are. In the same way that Facebook knew who that reader was because they came from Facebook, now you’re going to know who they are.

So it’s a relationship that you have with your readers. And it’s going to be able to, again, be a source of your first-party data. So incredibly important to the future of our publishers.

JENNY GUY: So I want to expand upon the concept that you just said, because that identification is very important, that, as you said, yeah, we all say, I got that recipe on Pinterest. No. No, you actually didn’t. Pinterest doesn’t have any recipes. You got that from an independent content creator.

So– mic drop. But it’s about more than just one site. And that’s why we’re doing something called Grow for the World. But I want to hear why it’s important that it’s about more than one site. Because it’s about this– just the same way that Mediavine, when we started providing full service ad management, was about a group of publishers banding together, it’s the same thing, right? It’s not just about one website. It’s about all of us.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah. No, I think, look, some of us have– and I know Jenny loves this word from– the superfans, right? We all have these superfans that absolutely follow your site, know who you are, and are your loyal home page users that come by.

But you’ve got to think about the 99% of other publishers that come to your site. They don’t know you from Adam. Is that the expression? And they’re not necessarily going to want to create an account, want to sign up for your newsletter, or do any of that work. They don’t know who you are. Again, they came from Pinterest.

But if we all band together under one thing, such as Grow, and we give them one login, they’ll know and start the trust Grow. As they see it on sites they’ll think of it as a way to add benefit as they’re browsing that site. They’re not going to look at it as necessarily– it’s not going to overtake your brand identity. You don’t worry in the way that something like a Pinterest or Google does, because it is something that is built into your site.

Grow is still not the destination. Your site is the destination, and Grow is built into your site. So Grow becomes value add to your site, and your site becomes that identification.

But again, it’s important that there’s one login system, or you’re going to be asking readers to create thousands of different logins, which, I’m sure you all personally hate as much as I do when you have to create a login for every single thing. I use, whenever they offer it, login with Google or login with Facebook, just to not create yet another password I’m going to forget which password I used on. And so it’s extremely important that we don’t have to do that across the entire web as this web is changing, or it’s going to be a bad user experience, and users are just not going to log in.

JENNY GUY: And rather than banding together with Mark Zuckerberg, you’re banding together with other independent content creators. That’s the web that we’re creating here. It’s with other people that are doing the same thing you’re doing, yeah.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Right. I think one of the most important things to look at is you may look at this as yet maybe a new walled garden. But publishers have never been in on the walled garden or controlled the walled garden or been the walled garden. And that’s what we’re building in this new web, the idea of we are the new Facebook, we are the new Pinterest.

Combined, we were already giving all of those sites the content. But now we’re going to get the readers direct. That is the concept behind Grow. We can all do this together, and we can be the walled garden together this time around.

JENNY GUY: For publishers by publishers. A walled garden– our walled garden. OK, I love it. So in our little bit of time that we have remaining, what about– how are we going to involve other sites that may not necessarily be at the Mediavine traffic threshold?

We had someone ask earlier about a smaller site that they themselves have. Their main site is with Mediavine. They have a smaller site that isn’t quite to our traffic threshold. Can they use Grow on that site?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah. So I think Grow has unbelievable growth already from just the existing Mediavine publishers. But if we want to truly become the next Pinterest, become the next Facebook, it has to go beyond just Mediavine publishers. We need the entire internet banding together.

And so with that in mind, we are working this year extremely aggressively to work on what we call Grow for the World internally, just a nickname, not the final name. But that is, we’re going to open up Grow to the entire world. We don’t just want it to be Mediavine publishers.

Because in order to be truly successful and for all of us to rise together, we need as many sites as possible running Grow, so beyond just Mediavine publishers. And that is coming, again, soon. And that will not be just for large publishers. So if you want it for your secondary sites, Grow is going to be available.

JENNY GUY: So how does this impact what we talked about in your post? And we’ve been– we’ve had questions about it forever, an offering for smaller websites.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah. So one of the things as we’ve made this decision, to really open up Grow to the entire internet, is we’d rather move that ad offering which was originally going to be inside of Mediavine over to Grow. It’s not going to be a big fundamental change from you as a publisher’s perspective. It’s still going to be Mediavine ad technology.

But we think it’s a better fit for Grow, because it’s going to help the sustainability of us releasing this Grow product. So that ad offering will be available to smaller publishers than Mediavine requirements. And even to different sites that may not have previously qualified for Mediavine, even for non– necessarily traffic related, it’s going to be a more diverse set of publishers outside of, maybe, more of the lifestyle sites you’re used to seeing at Mediavine.

JENNY GUY: OK. So we’re going to broaden it. For anybody who wants to use Grow eventually, they’ll be able to– this will be our offering for smaller websites that are working to get to the Mediavine ad management level. They’ll be able to use Grow to monetize their sites, but also use all those features of Grow that we’ve been talking about and whatever comes down the road to keep growing, to reach that 50,000 or whatever the threshold is.

And in addition, we’re going to be able to create this amazing web of content creators that actually make it even more worth it for people to create a login. We want Grow to be the way that they consume their content. That’s what we want to create for users, correct?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Exactly. No small ambition.

JENNY GUY: All right. It’s small. It’s not big. It’s just– it’s minor. OK. So we have 2 minutes. Tell us what our publishers need to do in 2022. It is 2022, I just need to confirm. Yes. What do they need to do?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: If you are not running Grow today, opt in to Grow if you’re a Mediavine publisher. It is available right now in your dashboard. Turn it on.

But more importantly, you need to start, again, building that relationship with your readers. And the only way you can do that today and have complete control is by turning on Subscribe and building your newsletter. And again, we’ll be offering that newsletter kind of lite features. Name pending– definitely not called “newsletter lite”– will be, again, a great offering if you don’t have one. But you also want to think about creating one even during that feature if you haven’t already, because it is your relationship with your readers.

Incredibly important you start growing that today. It takes years to build a big subscriber base. So the best time to start was a year ago when we launched this feature, but the second best time is right now. So enable it today.

JENNY GUY: Fantastic. There are additional– and I know that there are additional features coming out for Subscribe. There’s so much coming with exclusive content, all the different ways to entice your readers to log in to Grow, to sign up for your email list, to engage more with your site and with other content creator sites that are also using Grow. So it’s an exciting 2022.

I apologize if we didn’t get to all your questions. There were quite a few. But the TLDR version of all this– we’ve already had somebody say they need to watch this Live, like, 20 times, which is a lot of us. That’s like a whole lot.

But if you don’t want to watch 20 times, the TLDR is, go turn on Grow if you’re not running it. If you are running Grow and you don’t have Subscribe, turn that on right now. And we will be back in just a couple of weeks with our next episode. It’s Tuesday, January 25 at noon Central.

We’ve got Maureen Mwangi coming on. She’s going to talk about a way to build a brand that she’s used with multiple major brands out on the market. So we’re excited to have her. Eric, it is always a pleasure. Happy 2022.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Oh, happy 2022, not 2020 2. 2022.

JENNY GUY: Exactly.

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