If experts are to be believed a global recession may be on the horizon. And naturally, as economic speculation runs rife, it also expands into questions about how the advertising industry will respond, and in our case what the means for affiliate marketing and commerce content publishers who drive revenue using it. While the situation remains unclear, one can say that if challenging conditions do arise, commerce-content – where publishers write articles about products and earn commission from brands when their articles drive sales – may be uniquely well placed to weather any coming storm. Here’s why. 

It is a mature and integral revenue stream for publishers

Research last year showed over 40% of publishers generate revenue from commerce. The top publishers now drive 25% of revenue from commerce content articles and further research shows commerce content readers are not only more engaged than pure editorial readers, but that they also spend more time on site and return more often. Per-headcount, commerce teams are comparable to any of the highest revenue driving commercial teams at a publisher and represent a cost-effective investment for publishers. They can also rely on partners in the industry, even in times of economic certainty. Publishers can also rely on partners in the industry. Skimlinks helped publishers pioneer commerce content monetization and is now a profitable platform, deploying new solutions to help publishers seize every growth opportunity the new revenue stream has to offer. Both Skimlinks’ longevity and profitability mean it can be relied upon by publishers to support efforts as they moved forwards, even in times of economic uncertainty. 

Commerce revenue earning isn’t dependent on trending content 

Much of the best commerce content is evergreen. Large publishers can generate up to 40% of their revenue from articles that are over 60 days old. These are typically focused on items that either don’t go out of fashion or are big-ticket investment items. Purchases of that kind are unlikely to be changed by a recession, people tightening their belts as a result of refraining from spontaneous spending due to less disposable income. 

Shoppers will turn to brands they trust 

Trust is a key commodity in commerce content. Publishers can only make money from their commerce content as long as readers trust that the recommendations they make about products to buy are genuine. And in uncertain economic times, as shoppers become more speculative, they are more likely to double down on recommendations they know that they can count on and that should again serve to benefit publishers monetizing commerce content articles with affiliate links. 

Cost efficiency

Commerce content is also likely to appeal to brands as a cost-effective way of putting products in front of high intent customers. Unlike advertising revenue streams, in affiliate marketing, there’s no upfront cost and brands only pay for sales that actually happen. Market leading publishers have audiences who actively seek out their team’s recommendations on what to buy. Investing in affiliate programs, to attract the attention of publishers and convince editors to write about products is likely to remain attractive to brands, particularly as other advertising budgets will likely be the first to go in cost-cutting efforts. 

Commerce is a growing revenue stream 

Over 60% of publishers in a fall 2018 survey said e-commerce revenue had increased since the start of the year. At a time when the effectiveness of other channels is falling, commerce continues to grow and deliver significant ROI for publishers. Attention and investment should be expected to increase as advertising budgets should be expected to fall in the event of a global recession seizing hold. Publishers are intent on diversifying revenue streams and a global recession should only increase the urgency for publishers to pursue this course. 

At this stage, a recession is not a certainty, nor is a smooth path through troubled times for commerce content publishers. But there are signs that publishers and brands can be optimistic about commerce content and its value during a global recession. The name of the game for publishers is diversifying revenue to be sustainable businesses. For brands during a recession, it will be how to get the best return for the least investment. And in both cases, affiliate marketing will provide part of the answer.