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News publishers investigating content commerce should consider these 7 priorities

By Mark Challinor

INMA

London, United Kingdom

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Content commerce for news media companies is the monetisation of digital content through direct sales of products or services integrated with editorial content. In essence, it’s a modern, smarter way of rejuvenating what used to be called “reader offers.”

This strategy aims to enhance the user experience by (seamlessly) incorporating relevant offerings (for sale) within the content and creating an additional revenue stream beyond traditional advertising. 

Media companies can leverage affiliate marketing, e-commerce partnerships, or even develop their own products to diversify income streams whilst providing added value to their audiences. 

It’s important to make a balance between the commercial elements and maintaining the integrity of anyeditorial content around it to ensure continued audience engagement and trust.

In developing a strategy for content commerce, there seems to me to be seven major factors for consideration:

1. Diversification of revenue streams

News media companies often rely heavily on advertising revenue, leaving them vulnerable to market fluctuations. Content commerce presents a chance to diversify income sources, reducing dependency on a single, limited or existing revenue streams. By strategically incorporating commerce elements within their content, media can tap into the e-commerce market and generate additional income. 

2. Monetising audiences

Content commerce allows news publishers to monetise their audience directly. Through affiliate marketing (in simple terms, earning a commission by promoting other companies’ products and services), partnerships with e-commerce platforms, or even developing proprietary products, publishers can earn commissions or direct sales revenue. This model aligns with the evolving consumer behaviour of seeking convenience and instant access to products or services. 

3. Enhanced user experience

Integrating commerce seamlessly into news content can enhance the overall user experience. Users are more likely to engage with relevant products or services that complement the news they are consuming. This approach not only adds value for the audience but also provides a more holistic and immersive experience, potentially increasing user loyalty. 

4. Affiliate marketing strategies

Media companies can leverage affiliate marketing by strategically promoting products or services related to their content. This involves partnering with e-commerce platforms and earning a commission for every sale generated through their referral links. It perhaps goes without saying that a careful selection of affiliates is important to maintain trust and relevance with the audience. 

5. Developing proprietary products

Some news media companies may choose to develop their own products or services, ranging from subscriptions to merchandise. This requires a real understanding of the target audience(s) and the creation/showcasing of products that truly resonate with their interests. Successful implementation can lead to a loyal customer base as well as recurring revenues. 

6. Considerations and challenges

Two I’d recommend:

  • Balancing commercialisation: Striking a balance between the commercial elements and the journalistic integrity is important. Media must avoid any compromising of the trust and credibility they have already built with their audience. It can sometimes be a fragile balance.
  • Regulatory compliance: Content commerce may be subject to various regulations, depending on the country, such as affiliate marketing disclosures. News organisations must always stay well-informed and compliant to avoid down-the-road legal issues. 

7. Technology integration

Implementing content commerce effectively requires seamless integration with existing technology platforms. This includes user interfaces, payment gateways, and analytics tools to track performance and optimise strategies.

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About Mark Challinor

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