Throw out what you think you know about e-commerce. Today’s digital publishers are finding all-new e-commerce monetization opportunities. Here’s what you should know.
The surge in traffic across e-commerce websites has spilled over into the media sphere, and savvy digital publishers are capitalizing on the opportunity. Consumers have grown far more comfortable shopping online during the Covid-19 pandemic, but online stores aren’t the only way that publishers are generating revenue through e-commerce right now. Publishers are also bringing in revenue through the commissions and fees generated by affiliate marketing content, along with selling goods through curated marketplaces and selling branded merchandise through their own online stores.
Buzzfeed, Barstool Sports, and Dennis Publishing are just a few examples of media companies that are innovating in this space. Even legacy publishers, like The New York Times, are adding new e-commerce monetization opportunities by selling branded apparel, archival photography, and personalized page reprints. At Barstool, a digital-first sports outlet, 50% of total revenue now comes through commerce. Of that, 10% of revenue results directly from e-commerce merchandise sales.
According to a new survey by Lotame, 62% of publishers in the United States say they expect e-commerce to rank among their top three revenue sources in 2021. More than one-third of publishers (36%) say e-commerce will be their No. 1 revenue source. That’s a major change from a few years ago, when e-commerce was just beginning to show up on the digital publisher’s radar, and when e-commerce monetization opportunities were few and far between.
Affiliate advertising, which is loosely related to e-commerce, also ranks high on the digital publisher’s list of potential revenue sources in 2021. Although affiliate advertising can be defined many ways, publishers generally consider it to fall into the e-commerce category. According to Lotame, 31% of publishers rank affiliate advertising among the top three revenue sources, and 9% anticipate that affiliate advertising will become their No. 1 revenue source this year.
What’s behind the movement? Certainly, the monumental influence of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 can’t be overstated. Publishers say they have seen readers grow more comfortable with the idea of purchasing digital offerings and goods over the past year. Media researchers have found that consumers are placing increased value on digital experiences, as well. That means publishers have the opportunity to sell not just physical goods, but also virtual goods and services.
Capitalizing on New E-Commerce Monetization Opportunities
How should digital publishers be driving purchase behavior to capitalize on the latest e-commerce monetization opportunities? One way is by focusing on serving their market, or their core readers. The more those readers feel inspired and engaged, the more easily they can be persuaded to buy certain products or services.
Another issue to consider is where consumers are completing their transactions. If readers are being encouraged to leave the publisher’s website to complete their transactions and make their purchases elsewhere, then that’s the wrong approach. Publishers right now seem to be having the most financial success when they enable transactions directly on their websites and mobile apps. That might mean opening a custom online store or simply adding a WordPress plugin to integrate a third-party shopping solution.
- Publishers should be looking for ways to drive purchase behavior as readers are engaging with their content.
- Content that’s inspiring or educational can shorten the sales funnel and lead to more direct sales.
- A growing number of publishers are enabling transactions directly on their websites.
- WordPress plugins from e-commerce companies make it easier to sell goods and services through your existing website.
To learn more about all the latest e-commerce monetization opportunities available to digital publishers in 2021, schedule a consultation with one of our publishing specialists at Web Publisher PRO.