Digital Publishing Reader Revenue
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How Immediate Media dramatically increased returns while broadening its revenue stream: A case study

At last night’s Association of Online Publishers (AOP) Awards held in Old Billingsgate, London, one of the finalists for ‘best media technology partner’ was Sovrn, the publisher technology platform, for its work with Immediate Media.

Sovrn’s entry, entitled Driving Affiliate Revenues Through Price Comparisons, demonstrated how publishers can significantly increase their affiliate revenue by offering price and merchant comparisons.

It comes at a time when comparison shopping has become a way of life for consumers – more than 90% of online shoppers read reviews and compare prices before making a purchase. Simultaneously, publishers are increasingly diversifying revenue through affiliate and commerce-related content such as product guides, product reviews, and recommendation sites. 

As if to underline the trend, this week even the Wall Street Journal launched its own product recommendation site monetized by affiliate links  – quite the turnaround for a publisher revenue channel that “a decade ago was largely seen as a bottom of the funnel tactic”. 

In this case study, Sovrn //Commerce (formerly Monetizer101) saw an opportunity to partner with Immediate Media by providing multiple retailer options before readers click-to-buy, delivering a better shopping experience, generating higher click-through rates (CTRs), and ultimately earning more revenue.

An evolving partnership

Sovrn //Commerce and Immediate Media have been working together since 2017. During this time, Immediate Media has been able to combine the expertise of its ecommerce team with Sovrn //Commerce’s technology to dramatically increase its returns from changing consumer shopping habits – whilst broadening its revenue stream from its digital properties.

Using the Sovrn //Commerce Comparisons platform has given Immediate Media’s editorial teams the opportunity to display multiple merchants and prices for products they review and feature, delivering choice to Immediate’s audiences.

For Immediate’s internationally renowned brands such as bikeradar.com and bbcgoodfood.com, Sovrn’s geo-targeting of traffic means local merchants can be served in local currencies avoiding the need to convert prices. The platform also automatically updates any price changes and removes any out-of-stock links.  With up to 40% of affiliate revenues being generated from content that is over 60 days old, these are crucial features in ensuring evergreen content remains valid and engaging.

The continually evolving partnership between Sovrn and Immediate Media also involves hosting regular virtual meetings to discuss new product features such as ‘Sponsored Shopping Galleries’, market developments such as the impact of Google’s December algorithm update (which benefited reviews-based content offering multiple merchants) and ways in which Sovrn can facilitate Immediate’s developing merchant relationships and ambitious affiliate goals.

Affiliate Examples: Bike Radar

Sovrn //Commerce Comparison widgets can be customised to natively fit the  publisher’s content, style, and desired message. 

Call to Action Price Comparison Buttons

As an example, Bike Radar published this article on 26th November 2021 using  “View” buttons in a table design which resulted in £126,000 worth of smart trainers  sold within 35 days.

Multiple Affiliate Offerings

This feature from Bike Radar illustrates how Immediate Media uses Sovrn technology to drive commerce revenues from their pages.

The screenshot below has a Price Comparison Call to Action Table, Dynamic In-Text Links. and on the right-hand side of the page there is an example of the ‘Shopping  Gallery’ which allows editorial teams to create curated content of multiple products. 

Shopping Galleries are particularly popular with publishers (and consumers) around ‘Tent  Pole’ events such as Black Friday.

Automatically Geo-Targeted Traffic

Sovrn //Commerce Comparison widgets geo-locate traffic and serve up local merchants in local prices.

UK merchants served to UK traffic

US merchants served to US traffic

75% increase in products sold

The results were impressive.

In 2021, Immediate sold nearly 200,000 products through Sovrn //Commerce’s Price Comparison widgets (a 75% increase over the previous year) generating £8.5 million worth of orders for retailers (up 60% y-o-y) at an average earnings-per-click (EPC) over 40% higher than in 2020.

In addition, Sovrn //Commerce’s Price Comparison widgets generated a 44.5% rise in clicks for Immediate with the CTR rising nearly 19% over 2020 levels.

“Sovrn’s deep understanding of our business needs and commitment to delivering a technology platform aligned with our commercial objectives continues to support our outstanding growth in affiliate sales.”

Vicky Bruce, Immediate Media’s Director of Ecommerce

Disclosure: What’s New in Publishing is wholly owned by Sovrn Holdings, Inc.