“Even before the pandemic struck, consumers were increasingly shopping from the comfort on their couches,” says FIPP’s Pierre de Villiers. “Covid has not only accelerated that trend but introduced a new generation – those most at risk of the virus – to the convenience of eCommerce.”
As the pandemic recedes, many of those online shoppers will remain, giving publishers a whole new audience to aim for.
Pierre de Villiers, Journalist, FIPP
“eCommerce has been on quite a journey. In the early days, media brands would sell branded products to subscribers,” writes Sadie Hale, FIPP. “Then came affiliate marketing, where readers are sent from publications to external shopping destinations, a process that became more refined and precise over time.
“The latest adaptation in this evolutionary chain is known as embedded eCommerce or content commerce, where readers simply buy products directly from the publications they read, rather than being forwarded to an external vendor.”
“Adds value to the media experience”
FIPP has recently published a report entitled The State of Content and Commerce, which explores embedded commerce and how publishers can benefit from it. In this iteration of eCommerce, readers can buy products directly from a publisher’s website instead of getting forwarded to an external shopping vendor.
This allows publishers to control their shopping offer and steer monetization themselves. They also own the data which will help them refine future offerings. Readers benefit from frictionless shopping at the point of inspiration.
“In this way, monetization through eCommerce does not constitute a form of content distraction. It instead adds value to the media experience,” the authors write.
eCommerce offerings are tailored to readers’ needs and encourage them to come back and identify more strongly with their media brand. Publishers want to be as close as possible to their users’ journeys, and the upselling of relevant products is the new secret weapon in the monetization battle.
“Three to five times increase in profit”
The profit potential from embedded eCommerce is also much higher compared to classic affiliate solutions, according to the report. “We see a three to five times increase in profit compared to affiliate programmes for the same products,” says Jonas Sjostedt, Founder and CTO, Tipser.
“Tipser has over 30% average commission for the first half of 2020 while the average commission paid out from affiliate programmes is around 12%. The conversion rate is also really fine – 1.5% end-to-end. As a comparison to that, the end-to-end conversion on affiliates should land on something like 0.2 per cent.”
“This (the higher conversion rate) is partly because the on-page content is contextually aligned with an offer that can be actioned in the same instant without the distraction of the consumer being sent to a new third-party site,” the authors suggest.
“Tool for a deep integration in digital publishing offers”
Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN) was able to double its online sales revenue from 2019 to 2020 after deploying the embedded eCommerce strategy. It also helped the publisher tide through the economic fallout of the pandemic.
DN has an in-house commercial team which selects the products they offer to their readers. This way they ensure that the offerings are relevant and match the interests of their audience.
The publisher also has a designated shopping section, Erbjudanden (EN: special offers), which carries exclusive products and deals for subscribers. This creates an additional added value to their content offering.
Fashion and lifestyle magazines Elle & InStyle from BurdaStyle Group (Germany) also have an editorial shopping team that selects products following readers’ interests. They use audience data to continually refine their offerings.
Harm Heibült, Director of Product at the BurdaStyle Group, sees in “embedded eCommerce the evolution of classical affiliate marketing, a tool for a deep integration in digital publishing offers.”
“The users stay on our site and can purchase products in only a fraction of the clicks. This improves the user experience and increases conversion rates,” he explains.
“Publishers have an edge against commerce sites”
“Publishers have an edge against commerce sites because they have organic traffic returning to their sites and many are returning several times a week,” says Sjostedt.
Publishers have a strong media brand that people trust and editors who curate the world and make it relevant to the readers. Publishers can leverage that brand and capitalise on consumers directly where inspiration strikes.
Jonas Sjostedt, Founder and CTO, Tipser
However most publishers aren’t taking full advantage of the digital environment, says Axel Wolrath, Founder and CEO, Tipser. “If you’re not using all that space, you’re not utilising your full digital real estate,” he tells Hale.
“All in all, embedded eCommerce creates a better experience for readers to read commerce embedded within the content. It’s an improvement on the service you are providing to the reader.”
The full report can be downloaded from FIPP:
The State of Content and Commerce