Turning Content into Commerce

Content is turning into commerce.  As publishers face disruption from aggregators, bloggers, social media and well, just about everyone else, their search for new ways to monetize online real estate continues.  E-commerce is one of those ways and there’s no shortage of emerging companies trying to help.  Here are a few interesting ones.  No doubt these vendors and their competitors will be chiming in with comments on this blog so here’s a 30,000 foot overview.

  • Skimlinks – looks for product based keywords on a publisher’s web site and with one line of code, their algorithm turns those keywords into outbound links that bring visitors to relevant merchants.  So if a visitor is reading an article on televisions and clicks on a link like “Sony HDTVs” they’ll be brought to a landing page featuring those TVs on a site like Best Buy.  Publishers earn affiliate fees which they split with Skimlinks, are pre-approved in affiliate programs with no sign-up, and have access to a network of 17,000 affiliates. Skimlinks is based in the U.K. but their CEO told me this week they have a growing presence in the U.S.    Their business development focus, naturally, is with consumer facing content-driven web sites.
  • Ixtens– lets publishers sell third party products in their own marketplace, keeping visitors on their site.  Visitors can purchase items from multiple merchants in a “one-basket” checkout experience.  Singe basket means the transaction occurs on the publisher’s site and the user only has one place to register and enter their payment information.  Ixtens’ CEO and its senior team have deep e-commerce expertise — their solution for publishers is built on the back of a services suite that enables web merchants to sell on Amazon, eBay, Buy.com, Overstock, Yahoo Shopping, and others.  In speaking with their CEO, it’s clear they understand how to automate connectivity to open new channels, and know how to execute common shopping baskets across disparate merchants, business rules for better monetization and the pricing intricities of marketplaces like eBay and comparison shopping engines.  Plus, the smart money (Greycroft) led their recent round of funding.
  • RapidBuyr -enables B2B content owners to offer daily deals on their web sites, earning revenue on transactions.  For publishers, it’s similar to the the partnership models of Living Social and Groupon, but totally focused on the business audience.   The RapidBuyr web site provides small and midsize businesses with deep discounts on higher dollar products and services such as hardware, software, web development & design, IT outsourcing, marketing, meetings, events, staffing assistance, SaaS offerings and more.  Plus they have a resource center to source deals from merchants.  Their senior management team are a bunch of rock stars and really good people.

Given the longer buying cycles and more complicated decision making in B2B purchases, most of the vendors with E-commerce solutions for publishers (like Skimlinks and Ixtens) are focused on consumer audiences.  RapidBuyer’s focus on the business audience make it unique.   Besides e-commerce, there are plenty of other monetization scenarios for B2B publishers…but that’s a topic for another day and one that’s best left in my day job.


2 thoughts on “Turning Content into Commerce

  1. Brad, great read and indeed, we agree with turning content into commerce, though we assess the situation from a slightly different angle than the companies you mentioned. Searchandise Commerce works from the context that with 80% of purchases beginning online, retailers have truly become content publishers. As such, retail sites offer great opportunity for monetization.
    We help retailers monetize their online real estate, specifically, their onsite search listings which is a key piece of content in guiding consumers toward useful content. For retailers, Searchandise Commerce provides the ability to monetize search listings by integrating pay-per-click bids into on-site search, combining the concepts of in-store merchandising where products vie for premium position, with the ROI of paid search. It’s an immediate way to monetize online real estate with no downtime, heavy IT lifting or disruption to the customer experience.

  2. Yes, make it as easy to respond as possible. –But first please give me a compelling reason to act.
    In the midst of all of our seductive communications technology, “the tail often wags the dog.” To paraphrase a political sound byte, “It’s the offer message stupid.” Why this? Why now? — Then tell me how.

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