How Digital Publishers Can Make Money from E-Commerce

How Digital Publishers Can Make Money from E-Commerce

Wondering how digital publishers can make money from e-commerce? Keep reading to find out.

E-commerce has become the fastest growing segment of consumer spending, making up more than 10% of total retail sales worldwide. Global retailers like Amazon and Walmart are bringing in the bulk of those sales, but digital publishers are finding that they have a competitive advantage that gives them a high chance of success when it comes to selling products and services online. This realization is creating a new demand among digital publishers to enter the world of e-commerce, selling not just branded merchandise and tchotchkes, but also physical goods and services related to the industries and people they cover.

In a recent report, The E-Commerce in Digital Media Report, Business Insider Intelligence looked at how digital media organizations are taking advantage of e-commerce and found that the three most popular strategies are affiliate links, social commerce, and video commerce. Business Insider Intelligence found that affiliate programs, in particular, are lucrative for digital publishers with large audiences. By the year 2022, affiliate marketing is expected to generate a whopping $8.2 billion in revenue in the U.S. alone.

Why Are Publishers Moving to E-Commerce?

With subscription and membership programs beginning to stall, and digital advertising rates dropping gradually over time, digital publishers are in search of new revenue streams. E-commerce has become a viable option, not just because it’s lucrative, but also because it is sustainable and because digital publishers are coming into this field with a competitive advantage.

One of the hardest parts of starting a traditional e-commerce business is setting up and launching a website. For digital publishers, this step is already done. With robust websites already live and operational, most digital publishers don’t have to worry about creating a website before they can start selling products and services online. Digital publishers don’t have to worry about getting eyeballs on their sites, either. With SEO strategies already firmly in place, digital publishers have the built-in audience that’s necessary to generate traction in the world of online commerce. That’s two major advantages right out of the starting gates.

E-commerce represents an opportunity for digital publishers to generate revenue in a way that incurs very few upfront costs. The real question is, why isn’t every digital publisher adopting this strategy?

How Digital Publishers Can Make Money from E-Commerce

Now that we understand what e-commerce is, and why digital publishers are particularly well positioned to take advantage of this trend in retail sales, let’s dig into the fun stuff — how digital publishers can make money from e-commerce.

Digital publishers can make money from e-commerce in three main ways — affiliate links, social commerce, and video commerce.

Affiliate marketing is common among online publishers. Simply put, the strategy involves embedding retail product links in stories and other website content. When visitors click on those links, they’re taken to the item on another retailer’s website, and the publisher gets a small commission with every sale that’s made. Affiliate links are one of the easiest and safest ways for digital publishers to dip their toes into e-commerce, since there is zero cost and publishers themselves aren’t handling any of the messy work that goes along with running a retail website.

Next up is social commerce. Social commerce uses social media to encourage online transactions. For example, a fashion publisher might post images of a new handbag on Instagram and Facebook, with links to buy the bag online. Social commerce takes advantage of the built-in social networks that digital publishers have created and grown organically.

Finally, we have video commerce. Video commerce is the latest entrant here, but it is growing to become a real force in the online retail space. Video commerce has moved beyond YouTube. Both Amazon and Walmart have added shoppable video content on Prime Video and Vudu, as well. Digital publishers can make money from e-commerce by using video to demonstrate how certain products work to their visitors, and then selling those products through links in the captions or embedded into the videos themselves.

Once again, digital publishers have a competitive advantage when it comes to video commerce because they already have the built-in SEO, they already have the trust of their audience, and in many cases, they already have the means for producing high-quality video content on a regular basis.

What do you think about publishers entering the world of e-commerce sales?

Get insight on the latest industry news and trends direct to your inbox.