Commerce content—or copy published by independent media organizations, and also known as affiliate content, affiliate commerce, content partnerships, or mass media partnerships—allows readers to understand the goods and services promoted by an editorial team, and a pair of new research reports from partnership management platform impact.com reveals key drivers for commerce content—and the massive revenue opportunity it presents for digital publishers as well as brands.
“Driven by evolving consumer preferences, coupled with the diminishing measurability and trackability of ad success, commerce content is commanding a larger share of marketers’ budget,” said David A. Yovanno, impact.com CEO, in a news release. “This, in turn, opens up unprecedented revenue growth opportunities for digital publishers.”
Meanwhile, the survey that examined how brands are faring in the commerce content landscape, conducted by impact.com with their own customers in August 2021, shows that 65 percent of brands said commerce content was an important strategy this year and 40 percent expect to increase budget in this channel.
Commerce content’s benefit to brands
impact.com conducted a survey of 168 brand users around the world between February and April 2021. The report, The State of Commerce Content in 2021, found that 56 percent of brands work with 10 or more content publishers. They also found that product reviews are the most common format of commerce content, with 86 percent of brands saying they use it. New product announcements and comparison shopping articles followed closely behind, at 75 percent and 71 percent, respectively.
The rise in commerce content has been seen in a variety of ways and it’s clear that it will continue to become a major part of marketing plans for years to come, with 65 percent of brands saying it will be part of their marketing strategy for the coming year. As more consumers seek trusted information, brands have an opportunity to prioritize commerce content and not only rebuild lost trust but also to grow revenue and audiences.
- Investing in commerce content has benefits. Brands with at least 20 content publishers are twice as likely to see increased revenue than when working with five or fewer.
- Brands in the retail vertical are more heavily invested in commerce content brands in other verticals. In fact, 53 percent of retail brands said commerce content would receive increased budget this year (13% above average).
- Brands benefit from increased brand awareness (73 percent), improved customer acquisition (55 percent), and revenue growth (49 percent).
- Product reviews (86 percent) and new product announcements (75 percent) are the most common content formats that brands use.
- Commerce content fits into the typical partnership compensation model—given that 83 percent of brands pay on cost per action (CPA).
To read the full report about brands, click here.
Commerce content’s benefit to publishers
impact.com also conducted a survey of 200 publisher executives from around the world in partnership with FORTUNE Brand Studio in June and July of 2021. The report, Commerce Content Providers and the New Digital Paradigm, found that 57 percent of respondents expect revenue from commerce content to grow by at least 25 percent each year and one-quarter of them expect an annual growth rate of more than 50 percent.
Nearly eight out of 10 respondents believe that commerce content will contribute to a larger portion of their publishing revenue in the future and 90 percent expect online direct-to-consumer sales to grow. They are already seeing solid ROI from their content programs, with 45 percent of the respondents citing higher total revenue, 41 percent seeing improved cash flow and 34 percent having realized increased profit margins.
“Over the past three years, Meredith has seen more than 100% year-over-year growth in affiliate revenue [thanks to commerce content],” said Chloe Reznikov, general manager of commerce content and strategy at Meredith Corporation, the leading media conglomerate and owner of 40+ iconic brands including PEOPLE, Better Homes & Gardens, Allrecipes, Southern Living, REAL SIMPLE and Magnolia Journal, in the release. “During the 2020 holiday season, Meredith drove $35 million in Prime Day sales and $36 million in Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales via our commerce content program.”
In addition to revenue gains:
- 45 percent of digital publishers say that it makes their own brands more recognizable to the public;
- 40 percent say that their digital content keeps their audiences more engaged and 36% believe that it expands their audiences;
- And more than one-third of respondents say that these relationships have improved because they provide links or offer incentives for directing readers to the brands’ websites.
To read the full report about publishers, click here.
“Commerce content has been a key part of our strategy since our launch almost two years ago and we only see this becoming more important,” said Josh Knopman, director of growth and digital product at Caraway, in the release. “Establishing partnerships with publishers is an important way to drive awareness and provide authentic & trustworthy content to consumers on their purchase journey. Through impact.com’s platform, we have been able to increase our content partner base by 66 percent all as a result of establishing authentic and trustworthy relationships with publishers and consumers.”
With the partnership economy growing, the only way to have a mutually beneficial relationship depends on trust. It’s for this reason that commerce content has become such a major part of the partnership ecosystem and a way for publishers and brands to create a reliable partnership with consumers.
“Commerce content is only effective when both the publisher and the content provider keep their voices authentic,” added Yovanno. “Trust is foundational. And when that trust is secured, publishers, influencers, affiliates, and readers come together to create a partnership economy, which is made up of the people, services and technologies that enable entities to generate revenue by working together.”