Publishers historically relied on sponsored content and paid native ads to drive revenue.
Then, commerce on the internet became ubiquitous.
Publishers discovered that people were using content to become more informed about their purchasing decisions. Affiliate links were introduced so publishers could earn a small commission on those purchases.
But the real winner of the affiliate links model was Amazon.
As part of their digital transformation strategies, publishers must consider how they will embed native commerce experiences into their plans. This transformation is called Content Commerce, and it is redefining how brands and publishers engage with their audiences. The vessel for creating a Content Commerce machine is the multi-vendor marketplace.
A multi-vendor marketplace is a digital storefront combined with an integration platform on the back-end that connects vendors — and their product, inventory, and fulfillment information — with publishers who can curate and sell their products without carrying actual inventory.
Here are the reasons why publishers are launching multi-vendor marketplaces:
1) Diversify your revenue streams or become obsolete.
Now, every publisher is a digital media company. At the same time, we are well into the age of ad blocking. Paid advertisements and sponsored posts are ineffectual as a result of shifting consumer preferences.
This means that the traffic that the most successful publishers receive — both now and in the future — will be earned. Renting traffic from Facebook and Google is no longer as profitable as it once was.
The disjointed relationship between publishers, affiliate networks, and Amazon is now commoditized. The digital publishers that win long term understand these shifts and are investing in better commerce experiences to their readers to diversify their revenue streams while acting as the trusted voice of authority.
Winning as a publisher no longer about hoping for commissions while siphoning ad dollars from your readership — consumers expect better and publishers can exceed those expectations by moving beyond the affiliate link model.
2) Readers want curation, not redirects.
To achieve the highest conversion rates possible, every consumer touchpoint needs to be on-brand, self-contained, and highly relevant to their interests.
Publishers know the importance of conversion better than most internet companies. Yet, their commerce playbook (i.e. affiliate links) is usually the exact opposite of the correct approach. Hyperlinking some words and sending the reader to a product page on an unknown third-party website that you have no relationship with is not a winning strategy.
Under the affiliate link model, the goals of the reader and the execution of the publisher are misaligned.
The winning commerce strategy meets the needs of the readers. Readers are seeking out information on potential purchases and they are choosing you, the publisher, as the voice of authority. They are asking you to help them. Redirecting to a third-party site is a betrayal of this trust. The remedy to this problem is to own the path to purchase and curate vendors intentionally — this should be evident from the moment a consumer clicks on your site to the completion of a checkout flow.
By offering consumers a destination for highly curated products from vendors you’ve onboarded, you’ll differentiate by becoming the voice of authority for your audience. Yes, this may result in more upfront work to curate the brands and the products. But once you have the initial seed of the marketplace, a valuable network effect will form which will continuously attract like brands and consumers. Soon, brands will ask you how they can be featured.
Over time, your marketplace will become unstoppable.
3) Leverage your existing traffic and email lists.
Publishers generate content, the content creates traffic, and the traffic attracts advertisers. This is the traditional publishing business model. Publishers can add another revenue channel without changing any of the inputs.
The beauty of launching a multi-vendor marketplace as publisher is that it gives you the ability to tap into your existing asset (traffic and email subscribers). It is wasteful for publishers not to launch a multi-vendor marketplace because they already have the prerequisites necessary to monetize through commerce.
4) Marketplace integration allow you to make your content truly shoppable.
When you’ve launched your multi-vendor marketplace, you can do some interesting things with it. One of those applications is the ability to make your existing content shoppable with buy buttons.
Buy buttons make any blog post, web page, or email shoppable.
With buy buttons, you can insert a shoppable module directly into the content and allow a consumer to make a purchase without ever leaving the page. The product information for the buy button will come from your ecommerce platform of choice, then Convictional will intelligently read the order and send the product back to the appropriate vendor for fulfilment.
Buy buttons represent a simple way to differentiate your content and delight your readers with a smooth, on-brand purchasing experience that doesn’t result into a redirect.
5) Earned SEO on marketplace product information.
Implementing a marketplace offers a number of direct monetary benefits like the opportunity to create a new revenue stream from existing traffic. However, the marketplace also gives you new SEO horsepower in the form of product information.
Product pages are a goldmine of SEO fuel.
In the affiliate link model, the SEO benefits contained within product pages (titles, descriptions, images, specifications, reviews, and more) were given away to the ultimate purchasing destination. But by launching a multi-vendor marketplace, publishers can capture the SEO potential of the product information which gets them closer to the source of truth for content and commerce.
Once you have decided to invest in launching a multi-vendor marketplace, you will want to work with a team with a track record of implementation success that can also help you source a curated stable of vendors. That’s where we come in.
Convictional works with fast-growing digital publishers who are launching their own multi-vendor marketplaces. We provide the services and platforms to help publishers and retailers curate and implement a marketplace.
Curious how you can transform your business into a multi-vendor marketplace? Get in touch for a demo.
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