Commentary

Cyber Monday's Sales Results Bode Well For Publishers

The early numbers from Cyber Monday shopping show another record-breaking year for online retailers. The gains bode well for publishers that have grown more reliant on e-commerce as the lines that used to separate advertisers and editorial content get blurrier.

Online sales jumped 19.7% to $7.9 billion, making this year’s Cyber Monday the biggest shopping day of all time, according to an estimate from Adobe Analytics. Top-selling products included the Nintendo Switch gaming system, Little Live Pets from Moose Toys and the video game “Red Dead Redemption 2” from Rockstar Games.

Not to be too cynical, but publishers who want to cash in on the e-commerce bonanza should figure out how to get those top-selling products mentioned in editorial content, especially if it means collecting affiliate and referral fees from online retailers like Amazon.

Or publishers can open their own brick-and-mortar stores as part of a broader omnichannel strategy. Despite the growth in digital commerce, about 90% of all retail sales still occur in a physical store, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Shoppers aren’t ready to completely abandon the physical world for greener digital pastures just yet.

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New York Media, the parent company of New York magazine, last month opened a pop-up store in the city’s SoHo neighborhood called “I Found It at The Strategist.” The store highlights merchandise featured on the pub's The Strategist section and online vertical aimed at shoppers.

BuzzFeed, whose commerce group has generated $50 million in sales this year, invested in a retailing venture led by one of its executives, Ben Kaufman. The company will open a store in New York’s Flatiron District in December that will change its theme every few months.

The first theme will be summer camps, with appropriate toys, clothing and accessories for sale.

The store is aimed at BuzzFeed’s core audience of millennials, who tends to look for authenticity in brands and to seek experiences that can be shared on social networks like Instagram.

“Retailers are trying to be media companies, and media companies are trying to be retailers,” Kaufman this month told Bloomberg News.

The publishing industry also has had plenty of misfires in e-commerce, such as Condé Nast's Style.com fashion retail website that was shuttered nine months after its debut.

Publishers that have struggled to adapt to competition from digital channels and social media apps need to consider how commerce fits with the changing needs of advertisers and audiences.

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