Content Syndication: An Overview for Brands

A lot has changed in the world of content syndication since we first wrote an overview on the subject back in 2012. In that article, we named the four major players in the syndication scene: Easy2, Webcollage, SellPoints, and CNET. Of those four, only CNET still exists in the same capacity as it did then.

Arguably the biggest player these days is Syndigo, which acquired SellPoints in 2019 and Webcollage in 2018 (which had already acquired Easy2 back in 2013). Syndigo, formerly known as Gladson before 2019, also absorbed FSEnet, Nutritionix, Edgenet, and ItemMaster in the lead-up to their rebranding. Together with CNET Content Solutions and Salsify, these three companies are at the forefront of ecommerce content syndication.

content syndication

What is Ecommerce Content Syndication?

Not everything has changed so drastically since 2012. Essentially, content syndication is still the same service it has been for almost a decade: Syndicators take content provided by a company and disseminate it to a variety of online retailers. The information is hosted in one place through the syndicator, and when the content needs to be updated, it only needs to be edited once before the new content is sent out to all of the retailers simultaneously.

Virtually every major online retailer uses syndicated content on their websites. Amazon technically accepts syndicated content, but in general, all of the enhanced content on their site is created internally through the brands’ Amazon vendor or seller account. The vast majority of brands deal with Amazon directly, then use a syndicator to send content to all of their other online channels.

There are a wide variety of content types that can be served via syndication to these retailers. For grocery sites like Walmart and Kroger, syndicators can be used to update basic product information, ingredient lists, and nutritional info imagery. For Target and Walmart, brands can create rich media product tours, add video, photo galleries, and other enhanced content that drives conversions. Each syndicator has their own proprietary content creation platform. Brands can easily choose which content should be sent to which sites, and receive detailed reporting that measures online shopper behavior and the performance of their products.

Syndicated Content and SEO

Syndicated enhanced content isn’t indexed by retailer search engines due to its transient nature on retailer sites. With syndication, only a line of code is hosted, not the actual text, images, and videos that appear on the page as content. When a customer scrolls down to that line of code, it activates, and the enhanced content is served to the webpage from the syndicator.

While this may seem like a disadvantage compared to Amazon A+ pages, where the content is hosted on the site, it actually isn’t. Amazon doesn’t index the information in their enhanced content either, so none of the words used in A+ pages determine the relevance of products to Amazon’s search engine. No matter what retailer you’re selling on, the basic content–including the product name, bullets, and short description–are where you need to focus your SEO keywords.

Syndicator Overview:

Syndigo

While many of the smaller companies it acquired focused mainly on syndicating enhanced content, Syndigo aims to give brands a more comprehensive content solution. Their Content Experience Hub (CXH) is a multifaceted platform that provides upgraded capabilities for integration between brands and their customers, regardless of content type.

CXH supports GDSN content synchronization across the global network, making Syndigo “the established leader across Retail, Foodservice, Healthcare, DIY, and Automotive verticals.” They also claim “the world’s largest active database of food, health and beauty, home improvement, and other product content,” thanks to Core Content solutions that allow brands to create, collect, audit, enrich, and manage product data content, images, weights and dimensions, nutritional data, and more.

Their enhanced content platform optimizes content for each retailer in their network, allowing brands to create compelling product pages that are “seamlessly integrated into your retailers’ digital platforms.” Rich media such as demonstration videos, lifestyles images, comparison charts, 360-degree product shots, product manuals, social user-generated content, and more are all available through the CXH platform.

This Syndigo enhanced content on Walmart gives the Samsung product page the ability to use large, colorful imagery that spans almost the width of the entire page for LED TVs that focus on a clear, colorful picture. A spec sheet, manual, and energy guide are included in the syndicated content as downloadable documents.

content syndication

Salsify

Salsify’s key selling point is that they help brands stand out and win on the digital shelf. To do this, they focus on streamlining and simplifying processes that help brands achieve a cohesive content strategy. Where Syndigo focuses heavily on all-in-one ecommerce solutions across a variety of disparate product information and management systems, Salsify focuses primarily on engaging digital customers on the product page.

Their proprietary content platform, Product Experience Management (PXM), helps organize all of the data and content brands need to market and sell products through distribution channels. Integrated Product Information Management (PIM) and Digital Asset Management (DAM) tools create centralized access for sharing essential files and information. When content is ready to publish, PXM allows brands to instantly activate content across a variety of retailers and engage shoppers. Easy-to-interpret analytic reports let brands know how content is faring on the digital shelf, and what they can do to optimize and improve it.

content syndication

Like Syndigo, Salsify’s reach is impressive. “Thousands of brands across all major retail & industrial categories trust Salsify with their digital shelf.” They also have an EMEA headquarters in Portugal, giving them direct know-how and access to overseas markets.

While Salsify’s initial focus was on essential content, it now offers enhanced content templates at an additional fee for Amazon, Shopify, Walmart, BJ’s, Target, Lowe’s, and Petco.

CNET Content Solutions

Geared primarily towards products and websites that focus on tech, CNET “provides aggregation, syndication, and analytic services for the channel with product data, rich content, advisor tools, and near real-time reporting.” Their proprietary syndication platform ContentCast seamlessly delivers detailed product information and marketing campaigns to retailer sites, giving brands insights into content usage and performance through a comprehensive reporting suite. This self-service portal lets manufacturers build and manage product content that is syndicated to over 3,000 global retailer partners.

CNET Content Solutions also aims to simplify the process of obtaining and maintaining detailed, accurate product data for sales channels, including resellers, distributors, manufacturers, portals, and retailers. With their DataSource platform, CNET is able to integrate specs and images, product comparisons, parametric search related products, and more on to ecommerce sites.

Inline enhanced content through CNET offers a wide variety of rich media presentations ideal for feature-loaded consumer electronic products, including image and video galleries, 360-degree spin and flash tours, interactive hotspots with product links, comparison tables, carousels, videos with closed captioning, MP4 and YouTube video support, and more.

content syndication

Which Major Retailers Support Which Syndicators?

For all intents and purposes, Syndigo and Salsify are going to serve content to any major retailer a brand could conceivably ask for. Amazon, Walmart, Home Depot, Wayfair, Best Buy, Target, Costco, Macy’s, Kroger, Safeway, Instacart–no problem. For consumer electronics and tech sites, chances are good if you’ve heard of them, they are one of the 3,000 covered by CNET.

But even if a syndicator doesn’t support a specific retailer, that doesn’t mean they can’t. Syndication is possible to any site with API keys, a javascript connection, or by exporting files that meet the channel’s requirements. With API or javascript, syndication can be automatic. Otherwise, brands can fill out the product information into an Excel sheet to be uploaded to the retailer, just as they might a NIS Excel sheet for Amazon.

Tips for Choosing a Content Syndicator

  1. Identify your most important online channels and make sure the syndicator works with all of them. A CPG company will likely find more value working with a syndicator like Syndigo that is expressly invested in online grocers and focuses on basic content elements such as ingredient lists and nutritional facts.
  2. Understand your content needs. Are you looking for an all-in-one content dissemination solution, or are you looking to focus specifically on enhanced content to drive conversions?
  3. Explore the costs. It’s impossible to say what each syndicator service will cost each brand, as this will vary significantly. But once you have identified your needs, you can present them to different syndicators and see what each will charge for those specific services.

Editor’s note: content26 is a privately held, independent company, and we are not affiliated with any retailer or syndicator. We have worked with many clients to create product tours and content across a variety of syndication channels.