Most people are familiar with the concept of co-ops in the world. The good ol’ Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a co-op as “a business or organization that is owned and operated by the people who work there or the people that use its services.” In other words, it’s a group of people who choose to autonomously participate/utilize the services that a business provides, while also having ownership stake in it.
When Hivewyre began (at first, under the name of adhesive.co), we wanted to bring this concept to life in our digital world. Because of our structure as a FLAT organization, this just seemed to make sense. We were a group that had laid its foundation as a company on the concept of autonomy, with every colleague operating under the idea of true ownership of individual and collective goals. This was coupled with the freedom for each colleague to complete their individual commitments on their own terms. No managers, no silos.
At Hivewyre, we explain our co-op in the following way:
“Each co-op member contributes exclusive, anonymous data about what their shoppers actually browse, add to cart and buy, forming a comprehensive source of what online shoppers actually want. The contribution of data provides them access to develop campaigns that reach online shoppers who are in-market for what they have to offer.”
The truth is, we knew that creating a co-op in the digital world would be challenging. Although we had seen the concept executed successfully in the past, we knew that there would be plenty of partners who would feel like they were giving away their “secret sauce”, especially in a world where data is gold. In fact, one of our chief objections to date has been the simple, but direct “I just don’t share my data.”
Other pretty valid objections that have come up?
- “I don’t know who you’re working with.”— To be clear, our reasoning behind keeping our co-op anonymous is two-fold. First, because if everyone knew every company that participated in the co-op, identifying marketing data from a competitor could be a million times easier. Second, because keeping members anonymous gave us a way to both protect the interests of our participants, as well as protect ourselves as a business concept.
- “You’re not large enough.”— This particular objection is certainly understandable, especially since we’re still in our youth. However, the point of creating our co-op was so that retailers could work together and combined, have a significant source of data and shopping behaviors between one another, covering a vast spectrum of categories and allowing each advertiser to more comfortably give in return for access to much more. Individually, we're small. But together? Now that can equate to one big data advantage.
Since we understand that the co-op concept isn't equally as appealing to everyone, we decided to build it in a way where participation was 100% voluntary, allowing advertisers to opt-out at any time (or from the very beginning), but still purchase CPM campaigns if they wished. The incentive we've offered for participating? Less expensive campaign costs (along with the data benefits, of course).
With our value proposition, we’ve made significant headway. We have over 100 advertisers live with about a 95% opt-in rate. Our number of unique shoppers per category has steadily grown over the last couple of years, adding up to about 40M shoppers.
A sample from our in-office chart, updated daily with our co-op numbers— affectionately dubbed the “Big A$$ Data Board.”
All in all, the experience we’ve had with building our co-op has been a good one. It certainly hasn’t been without its challenges, but our indicators have all pointed towards the fact that there is steady interest in our product in the market, as well as a collective desire for companies to work together to accomplish something big. Eventually the goal is, along with our co-op participants, to create something that could even rival the data power of the Amazons of the world (who, by the way, are quietly building their own multi-million dollar ad business).
Onward we go!