This article is cross-posted from Adrants where it was originally posted by Steven Hall. Guest author, Josh Jaffe, is the VP of Business Development here at VigLink.
Conde Nast’s recent announcement to merge Lucky Magazine with BeachMint, an online retailer, follows the relaunch of Domino Magazine, another Conde property, as an e-commerce store. The New York media giant isn’t the only one blurring the line between content and commerce. Meredith, Thrillist and Gawker are other prominent publishers investing considerable resources in commerce.
Despite these initiatives, commerce-based revenue remains a largely untapped growth opportunity for digital media companies. Display, native and video are the primary drivers of online publishing revenue. Yet, commerce holds the potential to generate a revenue boost of at least 10% with limited investment.
Fashion bloggers have been at the forefront of the move to incorporate commerce as a meaningful line of revenue. These writers leverage their influence to drive loyal readers from their site to buy a product from an online retailer they have a commission agreement with. They’ve recently expanded to capture purchase intent on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and even YouTube.
Via its acquisition of ShopNation in 2012, Meredith is experimenting with on-site purchase as a means of driving commerce-based revenue. Men’s style publisher, Thrillist, earns most of its revenue from its JackThreads unit, the online retailer it purchased in 2010. Most publishers, though, don’t need to initiate their move into commerce by selling products direct to consumers. Gawker committed to commerce accounting for 10% of their total revenue in 2012 and achieved it last year without selling goods directly from its sites.
To start reaping commerce-based revenue, content must be created with purchase in mind. This is a natural fit for vertically oriented publishers. A technology site promotes deals at an online retailer. An outdoors publisher creates a product guide for camping or skiing. Broader media sites covering news or entertainment can also capture reader purchase intent by featuring travel deals, digital goods or style guides. Stories can be created by existing writers, non-editorial staff or a content agency trained to link story product references to online retailers.
Creating content with the intention of sending readers off-site to an online retailer may seem antithetical to product gurus charged with increasing site engagement. But, creating content that readers find useful and in tune with the brands and products they love actually boosts user loyalty and return visits.
The benefits are clear. The new found revenue is completely additive to the current revenue mix of display, native and video. It is less subject to economic downturns as advertisers are more willing to maintain budgets when spend is tied directly to revenue. And commerce-based revenue generates a predictable return on investment because revenue levers up in direct relation to the amount of content created and the audience pushed to that content.
While publishers keep mobile, social, programmatic and native top of mind, adding commerce as a core editorial and monetization strategy can yield an entirely new, meaningful line of revenue in 2015.
Written by Josh Jaffe, VP of Business Development at VigLink