Last month our CEO, Gene Austin, outlined Bazaarvoice’s commitment to providing the best-in-class syndication solution for brands and retailers. Building upon this, we wanted to take some time to break down the fundamentals around syndication and its value.
What is syndication?
Syndication is the distribution of a brand’s consumer-generated content, like customer reviews and photos, to the websites of retail partners who sell the brand’s products. Depending on whether a brand has its own e-commerce or not, the CGC may show up on the brand’s website, and then the same content is syndicated out to key retailers, where it will display on the corresponding product display pages. Review syndication helps brands ensure their content is available wherever consumers are shopping and helps retailers deliver an exceptional shopping experience by having plenty of content on all of their products.
How does syndication work?
While the definition of syndication makes it sound simple, there is a lot that takes place in the background to ensure that brands and retailers can distribute and receive content. Let’s break this down — here are the steps in our syndication process.
1. Brand content is collected from customers.
Brands, or third-party providers on their behalf, can collect ratings, reviews, and other CGC using a variety of methods, including post-interaction emails, sweepstakes, social media, and sampling programs.
2. Bazaarvoice authenticates and moderates the content.
CGC should represent a customer’s genuine, unbiased, and transparent opinion about their experience with a product or service. In this step, considerable efforts are made to ensure that content is:
– Free from fraudulent content
We prevent fraudulent content, including disruptive or ‘trolling’ behavior, commercial messages, automated submissions (e.g. bots and scripts), illegitimate or degrading content from a client’s competitor, and self-promotion.
– Free from edits
Reviews are not altered in any way by anyone other than the original author — including corrections for spelling or grammar. Reviews are not filtered, edited, or deleted simply because they are negative or are lower rated.
We do not allow companies to directly ask for positive reviews. If consumers are offered money or promotional material (such as discounts or coupons) in exchange for providing an unbiased review, then the review must note this fact.
Our proprietary NLP- and human-powered moderation engine ensures that content follows brand guidelines before it is displayed, with coverage in 38 languages.
3. Bazaarvoice matches brand content to the product catalogs at retailer websites.
Brands sell their products on a diverse set of retail sites. Matching hundreds of thousands of products across thousands of retailer and brand catalogs is tricky. Because of that, we take on the task of matching brand CGC to the retailers that sell their specific products, and we do this step at scale.
4. Brands’ CGC is displayed on retailer websites.
Brand content, whether ratings, reviews, or photos, is displayed on the corresponding retailer product display pages. Thanks to our syndication network, retailers receive over 325 million reviews from 2,500 brand sites, and brands are able to reach over 1 billion shoppers across 750 global retailer sites every month.
Why is syndication valuable?
As a result of customer photo and review syndication, brands increase their reach and the distribution of their content, reaching consumers they otherwise wouldn’t. Retailers gain content to help shoppers make better decisions and to increase sales. Brands, retailers, and, most importantly, consumers win.
That being said, syndication is extremely complex, and that complexity grows as the scale of the retailers and brands grow. Much of this is due to inconsistency in how the e-commerce industry treats and manages catalog data.
There is no single way to build a catalog or one single indicator for product matching. We ingest all of the catalog data across our network, which comes to us in various stages of completeness, and then fill in the gaps to match the data piece by piece, product by product. We build a connection between brand content and retailer catalogs and have invested to make this matching process seamless on either end.
The result is that every product is given its own brand-identifier, authenticated, matched, routed, and ultimately displayed at each retailer. Retailers gain high quality, trusted, authentic content that drives SEO, sales, and engagement value, all without having to invest in their own infrastructure to gather, aggregate, and match content from the brands they sell. Brands rest easy knowing they are putting their best foot forward and standing up to competition in the retail channel. Consumers get authentic product content wherever they shop, and they know where that content comes from. This fosters connection to the brand, trust in the retailer, and confidence to buy.
What questions should I ask of a CGC or review syndication provider?
We highly encourage brands and retailers to thoroughly evaluate any CGC or review syndication solution. To be able to better understand syndication and evaluate your options, we recommend asking any syndication provider the following questions.
- What data is being captured?
- How will my data be stored and processed?
- Do I have to agree to any data privileges in exchange for a zero-cost solution?
- What are the honest and responsible costs in a zero-cost solution?
- How do you ensure that brand content is matched to the right product at the right retailers?
- How are you operationalizing the matching of content?
- Am I responsible for implementing an API?
- Do I need a second display on my page?
- If so, how does this impact load time/page speed?
- Do you require a pixel to be implemented?
Syndication of consumer-generated content has become an essential tool for retailers and brands of all sizes to maximize the volume of their customer ratings, reviews, and visual content and to ensure that influential CGC is accessible wherever their customers need it.
If you are a current Bazaarvoice or PowerReviews client, we know that review syndication is top of mind for you as our cross-platform syndication arrangement is set to end on July 2nd, 2018. Bazaarvoice is committed to an orderly transition that protects the interests of our clients and their customers. We intend to maintain all existing content that has been syndicated into the Bazaarvoice Network, as long as it continues to meet all the conditions for syndication and display. For any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your Bazaarvoice account team.