Future CEO Zillah Byng-Thorne on the Sustainability of Ecommerce & Monetizing Specialist Content
Publishers have historically touted ecommerce as a golden opportunity to increase their topline revenue. In this age of digital disruption, where major platforms like Facebook, Google and increasingly, Amazon have asserted their dominance, publishers of all sizes have had to work hard to reconfigure their business models to adapt.
For media brands, now is the time to recommit to ecommerce as publisher monetization will remain under attack by the duopoly.
As someone who leads a specialist publishing and media company -- Future Plc -- I can speak directly of the strategic importance of having a robust ecommerce strategy and program in place to keep a company’s growth trajectory in a favorable direction. Specialist media brands are particularly well-poised to take advantage of ecommerce as their well-defined enthusiastic audiences are passionate and more engaged than general publishing readership.
Recently, Future launched the new music platform Louder for hard rock and heavy metal enthusiasts; it’s the latest iteration of the successful music content franchise that we’ve built over the years. Building on an established base of 1.8m unique monthly users, Louder is now the collective hub of Future’s core music titles: Metal Hammer, Prog, and Classic Rock.
Until very recently, our music-listening titles have all come under our TeamRock umbrella. However it became increasingly obvious that this was no longer sufficient for the range of genres really offered on our sites/platform. We had already had significant ecommerce success with our proprietary ecommerce technology, Hawk, yet this was not utilized on the old TeamRock site. The rebrand, therefore, was intended to capitalize on our existing ecommerce expertise.
Driven by the strategy of sustainability through diversification, we rebranded and created Louder, a platform that meets the content demands of our dedicated audience whilst incorporating our ecommerce technology to maximize monetization.
It’s affiliate marketing, but not by our typical structure. It’s different from our technology and gaming platforms, in which our ecommerce platform Hawk fits seamlessly, connecting consumers with the products they are searching for. Louder will be focusing on driving sales of concert tickets and audio equipment, as well as driving display ad revenue. The new ticketing platform on Louder requires our affiliate marketing strategy to be more reactive.
There is further potential to extend this strategy further with the recent acquisition of NewBay media and the titles that come with it. Brands such as Guitar World, Bass Player and Guitar Player are a natural fit into our ever-expanding music portfolio, and certainly ones we can strategize in a similar format to our rock music titles.
There is a fine balance between honoring editorial independence whilst driving a new ecommerce strategy. At Future it is this balance that enables us to continue operating as a highly-successful, and ever-growing media company.
Publishers and media owners need to pay heed to new data restrictions and legislation in this era of GDPR, and as a result we need to find a variety of ways to generate revenue whilst keeping consumer audiences engaged. For this reason it is crucially important that ecommerce remains a core part of every publisher’s overall strategy.