Commerce content is a key revenue stream for publishers: Top players can drive 25% of their revenue from it and publishers around the world are now keen to capitalise on it.
Once publishers get started, the biggest question becomes, “how do I actually scale this revenue stream now?” This is the insight we want to share today. Working with over 60,000 publishers has allowed us to see, analyse, evaluate and conclude on a formula that helps publishers to reach half a million pounds in just over one year.
Dedicate time, create content, hire a team
The first step is dedicating time to commerce content. Publishers can earn from it passively, but to really scale the stream they have to carve out time for writers to actually create dedicated commerce content. Until publishers dedicate time, commerce won’t be a priority and it won’t be an active contributor to revenue either.
The next step is to either dedicate an existing staff member exclusively to commerce content or look at hiring. A full-time commerce editor can make a huge difference to commerce revenue: They know how to find the brands' readers like, surface products they’ll react to and the right kind of article to attract people that are keen to make a purchase.
From our experience, the best way to build out this team is to start with one editor who produces five pieces of content per day. From there publishers should aim to expand to a commerce team of five editors, that can contribute a further five articles per person per day over the course of 18 months.
Prioritise different article types
Publishers can also scale commerce content by focusing on different types of articles.
For example, many publishers will focus on reviews written about a single product, as these typically attract shoppers that are specifically looking to buy that item and once they’ve read a positive review are more likely to convert. These kinds of articles have attractive success metrics behind them: Single-product reviews have an average order value (AOV) of £93 and an average earnings-per-click (EPC) of £0.17.
However, multiple product articles out-perform them on a revenue-per-article (RPA) basis. Articles that featured more than one product have an average RPA 31% higher than single-product reviews.
Evergreen articles also perform better than timely pieces. Half of the commerce revenue a typical publisher generates come from articles published more than 12 months ago. With that in mind, publishers should look to create evergreen content that will have higher lifetime value and continue to contribute to commerce revenue over a long period to scale.
Include promotions in articles
Commerce content that includes a promotion or offer is more compelling.
It adds an incentive for the reader to convert and helps shorten the shopping journey as it saves them the trouble of finding their own code elsewhere.
Coupons, free shipping and sales are the main motivators that readers respond to.
Coupons have an 8.5% conversion rate in our network and AOV of over £38. Free shipping has a 5.5% conversion rate and a higher AOV of almost £50, while Sales have a 4% conversion rate and an AOV of almost £66.
Hot products like new smartphones or sellout dresses are also an entrancing option to include. The conversion rate and EPC is less enticing, but the AOV for hot products is higher than the others at almost £80.
Not every article need include a promotion, but where possible adding an offer can make all the difference in encouraging a reader into converting and becoming a shopper.
Take a device-by-device approach
While it can be tempting to push the exact same content on desktop and on mobile or mobile platforms like AMP, it is better to optimise per device.
Mobile now accounts for over 50% of traffic in our network, but it continues to lag behind desktop in terms of AOV and EPC. Desktop AOV and EPC are respectively 70% and 50% higher than mobile.
When you look at content and the kinds of things people buy on each device it is clear that people prefer to buy bigger ticket items on desktop. People are happy to buy lower-priced items direct from their smartphone but prefer desktop for larger purchases. So publishers should factor that in when scaling their commerce revenue and create content with products at different price points for each device.
Content for particular platforms is important too. When thinking about mobile, many publishers make use of the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) platform. Publishers in our network have seen a more than 400% uplift in sales since installing Skimlinks’ dedicated solution to monetize that platform. So when publishers think about scaling, they should factor in tools they’ll need to monetise in different environments too.
Participate in key seasonal e-commerce events to power performance
As well as day-to-day content there are now dozens of established e-commerce opportunities throughout the year that are ideal ways to scale commerce revenue.
Events including Black Friday and Valentine’s Day offer publishers events where readers are actively making higher consideration purchases: They want to get the right gifts for significant others and purchase the right things for themselves to make sure holidays go off without a hitch.
Traffic is higher (in the UK traffic on Black Friday is 153% higher than during the rest of the holiday season), there are more people shopping than at other times of the year, and commerce content can provide a real service to them during their shopping journeys.
To answer the question we started with, publishers will start to scale commerce content as a key revenue stream once they change their outlook on it from being a passive to an active part of revenue generation activities. Hiring an editor, building a commerce team, optimising the kind of articles that team writes, focusing on deals that will resonate with your audiences, pushing out content tailored for different devices and taking part in e-commerce events will all help to drive commerce growth. As publishers seek alternatives to advertising, commerce can become a lucrative part of their new diverse mix of revenue streams.