What is Content Commerce?

Content Commerce is the combination of content with commercial offerings to create a unique shopping experience for customers. 

Consumers today do not simply look for products online. They also seek product reviews, testimonials, and product features. In this sea of online shopping offers, customers are in constant need of guidance along their shopping journeys. Content commerce can then be seen as a natural consequence of customer demand. By combining content and commerce, publishers and brands can better cater to consumers by providing them with all the necessary information they need right before purchasing within the content itself.

The digital customer, who cares less about where they shop — and more about the most convenient, safest, and quickest ways to do so — spends when inspiration strikes and expects a seamless shopping journey. Therefore, to succeed with content commerce, the content must educate and inspire. 

Now that we’ve got some insight into what content commerce is, let’s dive deeper into what it means for brands and publishers and what are the different ways of implementing it.

Content Commerce: A new sales channel for brands and publishers

Content commerce can also be seen as a new sales channel for both brands and publishers. It allows brands and publishers to come together to sell at the point of inspiration and provide a differentiated shopping experience to their customers. 

This new sales channel has created a win-win situation for all. Publishers get the chance to monetize content while brands benefit from increased product exposure. 

Content commerce has gained popularity among publishers as it provides them with an additional revenue stream and increased reader engagement. Total digital ad spending is expected to reach $455.30 billion this year, and this number has only been growing steadily over the years. However, what “publishers are seeing is that they really can’t make a lot of money with advertising because there is too much content available on the Internet, a big fragmentation of audiences, plus advertisers want granulated targeting that publishers cannot deliver,” says INMA Researcher-in-Residence Grzegorz Piechota. It is therefore becoming increasingly important for publishers to start looking for alternative sources of revenue. 

Content commerce provides publishers with just that. It allows them to monetize their content by embedding products into articles. Moreover, content commerce in the form of embedded e-commerce with integrated buy buttons empowers publishers to own the checkout experience and benefit from higher conversion rates. 

Publishers, however, must be sure to maintain transparency in terms of how customer’s information is used. This is solely to help customers feel at ease and also to establish trust with the customer. 

Brands, too, can benefit from this new form of product distribution. It gives them the chance to reach customers at the right place at the right time. This helps brands create a better customer-brand relationship and improve brand recall and awareness by being present within multiple content pieces. 

Jonas Sjöstedt, founder and CPO at Tipser, says: “Before, publishers used to make revenue on the side of their content with ads, and the content was just a cost. Now, the actual content can become a revenue stream. We have also seen an increase in returning visitors for publishers, because the visitors see a value in coming to the content that has been hyper curated by the editor.” 

Content Commerce: Native checkout vs Affiliate Marketing

Content commerce can take place via native checkout or through affiliate marketing. With affiliate marketing, the customer is directed to another site to complete the shopping process. Affiliate marketing is also hugely popular. Globally, it was estimated in the Awin Report that advertisers invested $13 billion in affiliate marketing in 2017

However, with affiliate marketing, the customer fails to experience a seamless checkout experience as they are directed to another website to complete the purchase. This increase in the number of clicks to purchase reduces conversion rates and is inconvenient to the customer. 

Native checkout can be seen as the latest alternative to affiliate marketing or rather a more advanced form of content commerce. It allows the use of embedded buy-buttons and an integrated checkout that enable customers to complete the checkout directly on the site, at the point of inspiration. This means they no longer have to experience any friction in their shopping experience, which results in higher conversion rates for the publisher and more sales for the brand.

Below are some interesting examples of content commerce.

In the examples, we can see how seamlessly products have been integrated into content, allowing the consumer to purchase the product right away. 

The article below from Bustle, 5 Super Chic Summer Bag Styles Taking Over Your Insta Feed is an excellent example of Native Checkout.

At the end of the article, we can see various summer bags that readers can purchase right away by checking out within the content. This is a perfect example of the seamless integration of content and commerce that gives readers the heightened user experience they increasingly demand. 

Here is another example of Content Commerce in the form of affiliate marketing. The example below is a content piece on Vogue with an affiliate link to the product at the end. The link at the end of the content directs the customer to another site from where the customer can complete the purchase. In this case, the consumer has to leave the current site to buy the product. 

This is what the customer sees on clicking the ‘Shop Now’ button. As we can see, the customer is taken to the Nordstrom website. This might result in some friction for the customer as they are directed to another website with a different layout that they now have to adapt to in order to complete the purchase. 

What does Content Commerce mean to consumers?

Consumers are searching for convenience more than ever, with 83% of shoppers saying that convenience while shopping is more important today than it was five years ago. This seems to be the most significant advantage of content commerce. It allows customers to get inspired by the content and purchase it immediately through a native checkout instead of browsing through multiple sites to find the product they’ve been inspired by. This new way of selling is widely popular in industries such as fashion, lifestyle, beauty, and news media

What’s the future of content commerce?

The growing need for more convenience and a seamless shopping experience clearly indicates that brands must employ an omnichannel strategy. And the future is sure to see content commerce gaining even more traction, with publishers and brands embracing it even more than ever before. There is also a possibility for content commerce to evolve further, and who knows, we might start seeing products being integrated with all other forms of content such as podcasts, videos, and webinars. 

Tipser’s embedded e-commerce technology enables brands and publishers to do just that. Publishers can integrate buy buttons and checkout on any page, site, or app. This means customers can go from inspiration to checkout within the same site, providing both convenience and a frictionless shopping experience.

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