Ecommerce now an emerging revenue stream for magazine media companies

Panelists at the FIPP Congress in Rome, today discussed a fast-growing revenue stream for publishers a step beyond the traditional models: Ecommerce.

According to Paul Keenan, CEO of Bauer Media, UK (pictured), the internet has completely disrupted the UK shopping landscape. “Ecommerce outlets offer one place where consumers are two clicks away from anything they might desire from wherever and whenever they desire,” said Keenan.

Two of ecommerce’s strongest assets are its convenience and its allowance for innovation. This model can allow consumers to rent rather than purchase, or to buy items that aren’t usually associated with subscriptions (such as coffee). The landscape also allows retailers to focus on niche markets with a greater ability to customise goods without scale.

Publishers should view digital commerce as a huge opportunity. “It’s a game in which we can compete,” said Keenan. “E-commerce is a diversification that we should all be considering, and most of us are.”

It should, however, be approached with forethought by publishers and with a sense of how much commitment they’re prepared to give. E-commerce and media require different capabilities, said Keenan. The reader can be converted into a shopper, but the conversion requires combining publishers’ skills for curation and recommendation with retail knowledge.

Entering digital commerce is a smart move for publishers, since advertising spending is not growing at a rate that is keeping up with the breakneck pace of new content. There’s a thirst for content online, but much of it is wanting for advertising, said Cliff Conneighton, senior vice president of marketing for hybris, USA. There is currently too much content trying to be supported by advertising. The good news is that research shows tablet users are willing to pay publishers for content that is entertaining and highly visual.

Once the commitment to enter digital commerce is made, publishers should plan their entry so that it leads to a profitable relationship with their readers. You can outsource the your digital commerce business, but not the technology, said Conneighton. Alternately, you can build it yourself, and you can leverage a commerce platform and add in more publishing-specific capabilities, such as allowing users to sign up for subscriptions.

Whether outsourcing or going the self-made route, the platform’s capabilities are key. Conneighton advises, “Choose a retailer that allows you to think like a retailer and act like a magazine.” Digital commerce is an opportunity for publishers to pull together their content in new ways and, as with tablets, establish a perpetual digital relationship with the reader that print magazines just don’t allow, said Conneighton.

It’s no longer sufficient for publishers to think of themselves as content providers—that’s just a starting point. Curation of content is the reason why publishing companies like Burda can still provide value, said Fabrizio D’Angelo, CEO of Burda International, Germany.

But customers are showing that they’re willing to move to these new areas of e-commerce.

“Curating content is what the game is all about, but it’s not the whole game anymore,” said D’Angelo.

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