Nov 29, 2022

500 minutes a day: digital media monetization with eCommerce

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Digital publishers are looking into new ways of monetizing the content users consume daily: podcasts, YouTube channels, Instagram followers, newsletter subscribers, and blogs. Curated eCommerce is a natural fit for niche communities of loyal followers. By launching a dropshipping marketplace on Vendo, online publishers can grow faster by adding tens of brands and hundreds of products without the hassle of inventory management or order fulfillment.

Vendo's marketplace SaaS allows publishers to launch an online marketplace in 14 days without any in-house development team and easily onboard brands running on popular eCommerce platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce.


Digital media consumption by far exceeds that of traditional media

The digital revolution has drastically changed how we access and consume media. From streaming television shows on Netflix to podcasts, YouTube channels, reading newsletters or blogs, and scrolling through news articles on our phones, digital media has overtaken traditional forms such as print newspapers and television broadcasts.

Millennials and Gen Zers will likely continue favoring digital media over traditional formats. And this trend is only expected to continue, particularly with younger generations entering the consumer market.

Time spent per day with digital versus traditional media in the United States from 2011 to 2023 (in minutes). Source: Statista

What's wrong with current monetization methods?

At first, traditional revenue models like subscriptions and ad revenue were adapted from print media, but they did not prove to be as successful in the digital world. Consumers have become accustomed to free digital content and are often unwilling to pay for it.

Additionally, ad-blocking software and decreasing tolerance for intrusive ads have affected advertisers' ability to reach their audience on digital platforms. With online advertising becoming an unreliable source of income, more and more publishers are looking to eCommerce as a steadier form of revenue.

Savvy magazine publishers have always looked to build a revenue model that blends different streams; newsstand sales, advertising, subscriptions typically form the bulk of revenues. But magazine publishers have another way of generating income from the readers they have worked hard to establish. Selling products. And why not? Loyal audiences often see the magazine that serves their passion as the place for inspiration; it’s not a huge leap to satisfy that inspiration by offering an inventory of products. In the digital world, that inventory can be a click away. - Andrew Rolf, previously head of Commercial Delivery at The Guardian

Digital media can effectively monetize their content by selling products to their readers. They do not need to spend tons of money on advertising as they already have loyal communities following their content and visiting their websites for news, inspiration, entertainment, or tips on different topics.

One popular way digital media has been selling goods is through affiliate links that are placed within the content. Publishers then earn a commission if and when a customer clicks and purchases the product. However, this technique is becoming less reliable with changes in privacy policies from tech giants like Apple and Google.

Instead, content-driven eCommerce offers a more dependable solution. With this strategy, publishers can directly sell products through their own websites instead of relying on links and third parties. This not only gives them more control over the customer experience but also provides valuable data on their audience that can be used to drive future conversions.

"A progressively important, additional revenue pillar for media groups is eCommerce: Media companies are diversifying their business activities, and large digital platform companies (DPCs) are demonstrating the enormous opportunities for cross-subsidising eCommerce and media content." - Deloitte Insights


Examples of digital publishers growing with eCommerce

Online stores run by digital publishers

The New York Times

The New York Times has an online store where it sells branded goods, archival photography, books, and personalized front page reprints. The store is a direct-to-consumer offering that gives the company's expanding reader base another way to connect with its journalism. The branded merchandise includes items such as t-shirts and mugs that feature the New York Times logo. The archival photographs are prints of historical images that have been published in the New York Times over the years. The books are compilations of articles from the paper on various topics. And the personalized front page reprints are copies of New York Times front pages that can be customized with a message for a special occasion.

The Economist

The Economist is an internationally renowned news source, providing in-depth analysis of current affairs and insightful commentaries on the world economy. The publication has been in circulation since 1843, and today its readership includes some of the most influential decision-makers in business and politics. The publisher also has an online store that sells a range of merchandise, including The Economist-branded notebooks, calendars, diaries, rollerball pens as well as its famous pocket guides. The eCommerce store is a recent addition to The Economist brand, and it provides another avenue for readers to engage with the publication. The products on offer are carefully curated to reflect The Economist's brand values of intelligence, impartiality, and global perspective.

Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times launched its online store in 2014, and it offers a range of products, including books, branded apparel (like T-shirts and hats), and back issues. The Los Angeles Times Bookstore is a great place to find books about the history of Los Angeles, as well as books by Los Angeles Times journalists.

Multi-vendor marketplaces run by digital publishers

Woo by ITV

Woo is a digital media platform that was created by ITV, one of the largest television networks in the UK. It is aimed at Gen Z users and focuses on content related to wellness, mental health, and personal growth.

Recently Woo has launched a content-driven marketplace running on Vendo that offers a curated selection of wellness products. The brands present on Woo's marketplace include emerging designers, minority-owned businesses, and Gen Z entrepreneurs who see design through a sustainable, gender-neutral lens.

NBC Universal

At a time when an ever-increasing number of consumers are shopping online and more brands than ever before are looking for ways to engage them that don't involve investing in ads, NBCUniversal is upping its bet on eCommerce as a revenue source. Moreover, this eCommerce push came as NBCU reported declining overall revenue amidst the pandemic due to falls in theme park and movie studio sales.

NBCUniversal introduced NBCUniversal Checkout, a multi-vendor marketplace platform that allows companies of all sizes to connect content with their eCommerce operations. With the platform, retailers can create branded and editorial content on NBCUniversal properties with links to featured items. They can also use NBCU codes to connect TV viewers with items shown and integrate NBCUniversal Checkout with their social media posts.


Bustle is an online American women's magazine founded in 2013. It positions news and politics alongside articles about beauty, celebrities, and fashion trends. In 2017, Bustle launched Bustle Shop, an eCommerce marketplace that offers products curated by editors that range from clothes and accessories to beauty and skincare.

The goal of Bustle Shop is to make the shopping experience more convenient and efficient for the magazine's largely millennial audience. To achieve that, it offers a secure in-article checkout experience and payment methods, including ApplePay and GooglePay. Many of the items are also exclusive to Bustle Shop, meaning you can't find them anywhere else. In addition to being a one-stop shop for all things fashion and beauty, Bustle Shop also offers competitive pricing and frequent sales and promotions.


How can digital publishers launch a multi-vendor marketplace in 3 easy steps:

  1. Sign up for Vendo Free Trial!
  2. Curate your storefront look & feel
  3. Easily onboard sellers using any of the popular eCommerce platforms (Shopify, WooCommerce)
  4. Once your marketplace is up and running, Vendo automates all the complex processes:
  5. Product catalogs are synced automatically
  6. Inventory levels are synced in real-time
  7. Shipping costs & taxes are pulled automatically
  8. Orders are pushed for fulfillment to sellers' stores
  9. Why use Vendo?
  10. Vendo is an all-in-one marketplace solution that allows publishers and media to start a multi-brand marketplace dropshipping eCommerce business in days.
  11. By incorporating Vendo into your website, you can start generating revenue directly from your readership right away. There's no need to worry about the complexities of traditional eCommerce, such as inventory management or order fulfillment.
  12. Vendo gives you everything you need to get started, from a customizable storefront to a wide range of integrations.

Vendo is a market-proven solution trusted by ITV, a leading global entertainment company that creates and distributes high-quality content.

Vendo provides the eCommerce infrastructure for ITV to operate its marketplace for wellness products dedicated to Generation Z.

Add a new source of revenue to your digital media platform. Start a Free Trial now!


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