Content Syndication Facts: Frequently Asked Questions

We receive lots of questions from clients about the ins and outs of syndication, so we’ve assembled this primer on content syndication facts to help brands learn more about the service and choose a syndicator that fits their needs. In this post you’ll find answers to the most commonly asked questions about ecommerce content syndication, with updated information and topics to reflect the ever-evolving syndication landscape. If you would like additional information about content syndication, please let us know. We’ll track down answers to your syndication questions and post them here.

content syndication facts

Content Syndication Facts: How Does Syndication Work?

Each syndicator has its own network of online retailers, value-added resellers (VARs), and technology partners that accept their content. Generally speaking, every major syndication company has the ability to serve content to just about any major retailer on which you would want your content to appear. To syndicate content, brands must simply upload their content onto the syndicator’s content creation platform, choose which retailers to send the content to, and then publish.

When the content needs to be updated, it only needs to be changed once on the syndicator’s platform, and then it is updated instantly across all channels.

Who Are the Main Content Syndication Companies?

There are a large number of firms that offer content syndication services, but the largest syndicators on the scene currently are: Syndigo, Salsify, CNET Content Services, Venzee, Plytix, Bluestone PIM, Agility Multichannel, and Akeneo, to name a few.

What Types of Content Can Be Syndicated?

While each syndicator offers its own proprietary tools and each retailer has its own rules governing the types of content it accepts, you can generally syndicate the following types of content: product descriptions, product and lifestyle images, interactive product tours, 360-degree product tours, product videos, product specs, and product and installation manuals. If retailer sites have specific rules for which content they will and will not accept (for example: one site specifically does not accept video), the syndicator will take care of this issue automatically when the content is published.

Some syndicators, such as Syndigo, offer syndication for basic content as well as enhanced content, across a wide variety of retailers. Syndigo is the second-largest independent certified data pool on the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN), so brands can also use their service to create, collect, audit, enrich, and manage product data content, images, weights and dimensions, nutritional data, and more. Different syndicators offer different services, but in general, core, enhanced, and rich media content can all be syndicated.

Who Produces Content for Syndication?

The quick answer is that you are responsible for producing your own content assets, such as product descriptions, images, videos, product manuals, and installation guides. Some syndicators may offer content creation services–Syndigo offers product photography solutions and CNET Content Solutions offers custom product development, for example–but in general, syndicators merely provide a platform to arrange and disseminate your data, not the content itself. Most syndicator content platforms offer the ability to create interactive guided product tours, but the brand is responsible for producing the text and images that populate the product tour, not the syndicator.

Many large brands turn to agencies like content26 for help creating retailer-specific copy and layouts for enhanced content.

What Do the Pages Look Like on Retailer Sites?
content syndication example

Virtually all syndicated enhanced content is delivered as inline content, meaning it sits on the retailer’s product page as readable text, with links within the text to the product’s assets, such as the manuals, videos, etc. Each website determines how the content is laid out, and because the width of each product detail page varies from site to site, the design of your product descriptions and content will not appear exactly the same across all sites. Like Amazon A+ content, syndicated enhanced content always appears “below the fold,” meaning you have to scroll down a bit to see it, in a section called “From the Manufacturer,” “Explore This Item,” or something similar. On most retailer sites, the syndicated content appears as soon as you scroll past it. On others, the user may need to click a “See More” or “Product Information” tab for the page to expand and the content to appear.

In the past, some retailers chose to display syndicated content as “microsites,” which required the customer to click a pop-up link that sat on the product page with wording like “View it in Action” or “See the Product Tour.” However, syndicators and retailers reported that inline content offered a higher conversion rate than microsite content (as much as 4 times higher, according to some reports), so eventually the retailers that used microsites moved over to inline content.

Why Does Syndication Matter?

There are a number of benefits to syndicating content. All of the larger syndicators can distribute your content to a wide variety of retailer sites, letting you decide exactly how wide of a net you want to cast while avoiding sites that aren’t as important to your brand. Syndication also ensures consistent branding across all of these retail channels, as all of your content stems from a single source of content that you control. Additionally, content is updated instantly, so you can edit product information in real time. Choosing to partner with a syndicator also eliminates the frustration of having to deal with the myriad site-specific upload requirements across retailers, as all of those are coded into the syndication platform.

But perhaps the most important reason that syndication matters is because it is the most straightforward–and often only–way to get enhanced content on many of the biggest retail sites in the world. On their website, Syndigo guarantees that exposing customers to enhanced content will result in a 12%-36% lift in conversions. No business would argue that those kind of increases in sales don’t matter.

How Does Syndication Affect SEO?

Because syndicated content actually exists on the product page as a line of javascript, most syndicated content is SEO neutral and cannot be searched. Unless your content is hard-coded onto the e-tailer page, your product content will not improve organic search results. Even though consumers can access your content, it does not sit in a retail site’s servers, so your content cannot be “searched” on the site level. Depending on the e-tailer, tags or other key attributes added to your content are searchable and will allow consumers to find your product when they use a site’s search bar. But the content itself–a specific phrase, for instance–is not searchable.

How Do You Choose the Right Syndication Provider?

Really, this comes down to your specific brand needs and how comprehensive of a solution you are looking for. For CPG companies, it may make sense to partner with a syndicator that also oversees core content and is connected to the GDSN, so you can set up your product content and synchronize it with all your trading partners and ensure reliable data is available for all markets simultaneously. For consumer electronics brands, it may be best to partner with a syndicator like CNET that specializes specifically in the tech sector. Some brands may lack their own robust internal data and information systems, and so partnering with a company that offers integrated Product Information and Digital Asset Management systems like Salsify, Bluestone, or Agility Multichannel would be beneficial.

Though the options are wide-ranging and seemingly complex, choosing the right syndicator is as simple as assessing your brands needs and goals and then comparing them to what different syndicators are offering. Check to make sure any potential partner covers all of your needed retail channels, and see if your company would be better off by implementing any of their unique (and likely expensive) add-on offerings. Once you know exactly what it is your brand needs, get specific quotes from the syndicators that fit the bill and pick the one that works with your budget.

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 for a variety of syndication companies.