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Button’s Mike Jaconi On How Buzzfeed And Walmart Are Demonstrating The Complement Of Content And Commerce

"For brands to succeed with their most loyal audiences, they need an app to serve these consumers -- and an acquisition strategy to make it succeed," Jaconi says.

Social news site Buzzfeed is expanding its existing content alliance with Walmart and the retailer’s e-commerce platform, Jet.com, via the Button Marketplace, an app engagement and partnership platform that connects mobile content and commerce brands.

The expansion involves Buzzfeed Tasty, the publisher’s food and recipes video portal, which the Button bills as a “blending of content and commerce.”

“This partnership represents a natural combination of the two on mobile in a way that is exciting for customers, serving yet another way Tasty, Walmart and Jet are evolving the shopping experience to meet customers where they are — no matter when or how they want to shop,” Button’s Natalie Gerke writes in a blog post. “With Button’s technology and expertise in app-to-app partnerships, Tasty is able to drive users directly into the respective Walmart.com and Jet.com apps to complete their transaction, known to be the highest-converting channel within today’s digital retail industry (apps performing 4x better than mobile web).”

Here’s where Button’s Marketplace comes in. The platform provides the connective tissue between complementary mobile apps and websites — such as Buzzfeed and Tasty — to promote loyalty and payment when its users seek to buy something related from a Walmart or Jet.com.

Just by way of explanation of how other ways Button creates complements between commerce and content, last May, The Weather Channel app began featuring Button Marketplace apps from Uber, Groupon, delivery.com, Caviar, and Resy.

As a result, its users would be able to hail a ride, sign up for a deal, get a food delivery, or make a reservation without leaving The Weather Channel to connect with those functions. In addition to maintaining engagement, The Weather Channel could potentially drive revenue through affiliate deals to promote those separate app functions.

As Walmart seeks to combat rival Amazon to be the primary online and offline shopping center for consumers, the extension to other apps within its own mobile base could help it prove its own greater convenience to consumers.

Michael Jaconi, founder and CEO of Button, offered his take on the intersection of commerce and content and how apps can make those connections more seamless, particularly for brick-and-mortar brands trying to enhance their omnichannel strategies.

GeoMarketing: How has the nature or state of app engagement changed since Button launched over three years ago?

Mike Jaconi: The phrase coined years ago by Apple – ‘there’s an app for that’ – still rings true today. Since starting Button in 2014, apps and consumer engagement with them has grown significantly. In fact, as Button’s recent report we released with App Annie shows – 2017 Index: The Mobile Consumer – consumers prefer apps for their convenience, whether it’s saved personal and payment credentials or because they’re easier to navigate. The growth is apparent, as the App Store and Google Play now feature a combined 5.9 million apps, and smartphone sales are expected to hit more than $330 billion by 2021, three times the forecasted $102 billion this year. For any retailer or service provider looking to acquire new users, apps will be imperative to their success when it comes to a mobile strategy.

How has Button itself evolved over the past year?

Over the past year, our growth has skyrocketed and our product has evolved to make it even easier for Publishers and Merchants to partner in mobile. We’ve welcomed a range of new partners across a variety of industries including Walmart, Buzzfeed, Target, Walgreens, The Weather Channel, and many others. The platform is now driving hundreds of millions in spending annually, and retailers of all types are coming onto the platform to diversify their mobile marketing budgets. Button is the most cost-effective acquisition channel our partners have in mobile – and with the duopoly of Google and Facebook only growing more powerful – Button is becoming an even more vital ingredient in retailers’ growth strategies.

Looking at brick-and-mortar perspective, how necessary is for stores to have an app? Is it all about promoting loyalty? Or are there other aspects stores should consider?

Mobile commerce is continuing to grow faster than any other channel of spend. Amazon, the guiding light in retail, saw more than a 50 percent YOY increase in sales on the Amazon app this past holiday season.

For brands to succeed with their most loyal audiences, they need an app to serve these consumers — and an acquisition strategy to make it succeed. With apps being retailers’ highest-converting channel, this is an essential pillar of retailers’ growth strategies in this era. Brands must also remember that apps aren’t using mobile to strictly make purchases, but also to price compare while in-store, access savings on the go, and research items they’re interested in when they don’t have time to shop. Retailers that don’t have a comprehensive mobile acquisition strategy will lose out on these valuable “moments of intent” that so frequently pop up in mobile.

Sticking with brick-and-mortars, how well are they using third parties such as Google Maps, Foursquare, Uber, OpenTable?

Creating the connective layer between digital and physical is a strategy we’ve worked to create since day one of Button. When it comes to finding a place to eat, consumers look at reviews on an app like Foursquare to find the best around them.

By creating that seamless connection between inspiration and the ultimate action, we’re making it simpler for consumers to get to the places they want. We’re also helping to make the apps themselves more useful — they go from being a place to get information to a place where you can take an action! Google Maps has also made a similar connection for consumers with the integration of Uber and Lyft.

Retail is following the natural extensions listed above, and I expect the next three years to show more progress than the past 20 when it comes to connecting online behavior to offline retail spending.

How does Button view the rise of voice-activated digital assistants like Alexa, Okay Google/Google Assistant/Google Home, Siri, Cortana, Samsung’s Bixby?

These new digital assistants are here to stay.  I’m still torn on whether commerce at scale will be possible through them without a view layer – and Amazon’s Echo Show is likely the result of Amazon coming to a similar conclusion. That said, whether a voice prompt or the “tap of a button” – the uniqueness of Button’s platform – the index of matching “actions”, “products”, and “places” will make the voice revolution an exciting part of the Button story. More to come on that in 2018.

Looking to the end of the year, what is Button focused on as it looks to position itself for 2018?

2017 was an exciting year for Button’s Marketplace, which grew with many of the world’s leading and most innovative brands turning to Button to power their mobile partnership strategy.

When companies like Walmart, Uber, eBay, The Weather Channel, Buzzfeed, and many more select Button as their partnership platform, it inspires other brands to follow suit. Our integration roadmap is full with many more leading retailers, and the publishers they’re bringing to work with us represent new verticals and new models we have never worked with before.

This was always our dream – to fix a bunch partnerships that we knew we could fix with better technology built for mobile and with the user in mind, and secondly to build the platform that the business models of the future could be built upon. That’s what’s coming – and I couldn’t be more excited about it.