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Black Friday Isn’t Just For Retail. How Publishers Can Lean Into Ecommerce With First-Party Data.

By OpenWeb

For publishers, digital subscriptions and advertising opportunities are always top of mind when it comes to revenue. However, publishers are looking to diversify their revenue sources in an ever-changing, highly competitive digital landscape. For example, by looking at the potential opportunities within the e-commerce space. 

Publisher first-party data can play a crucial role in helping modern publishers tap into new avenues of income and lay the groundwork for expanding into e-commerce. (Just think of all the potential data available via massive events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.) Every publisher knows how to monetize content, use affiliate links, and generate revenue from advertising — but first-party data offers a critical advantage for more significant ventures. This is because gathering first-party data provides vital insight into the behavior of users, and feeds publishers the information required to target listicles, reviews, best-of lists, and product news for maximum engagement. Now consider these same advantages, but with e-commerce goals in mind.

In this post, we’ll discuss the role of publisher first-party data for e-commerce opportunities, and look at how Black Friday presents a huge window of opportunity for publishers and brands. 

How Big Is The Opportunity For Black Friday This Year?

In 2019, 93.2 million customers made purchases during the five days from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, almost 10 million more customers than in-store traffic that year. This is even more impressive in light of the fact that Black Friday’s in-store traffic is usually the most notable statistic. With an average spend of $362 per customer (a 16% increase from the previous year), it’s not a revenue stream to ignore. 

Statistics like these have brands salivating over the revenue potential. They also suggest an incredible opportunity for publishers to use first-party data to their advantage. For some, this can come in the form of partnering with brands to drive e-commerce through precisely targeted content. For others, first-party data opens the door to their own ventures (such as online stores), creating the blueprint to successfully sell to an audience they learn more about every day. Regardless of the approach, the e-commerce world has opportunities aplenty for those who can use first-party data effectively.

A great example is Dennis Publishing, the parent company of several automotive publications, amongst others. Using a first-party data strategy, the publisher launched Autovia — a platform designed to connect automotive content readers with car brands, dealerships, etc. By creating targeted content based on their first-party data findings, they have improved user experiences and the quality of content. Of course, these are goals for any publisher, but in the e-commerce space, these benefits inspire confidence in Autovia and its brand partners. Where there’s confidence, there’s consumer trust and an increased likelihood of a purchase.

How Useful is Publisher Data for Brands?

Publishers using first-party data develop closer relationships with users; they learn their likes and dislikes, and create targeted content to ensure engagement and compelling social experiences. So, having the ability to utilize first-party data while working with publishers who know how to tap into specific user groups (or customer bases for brands) may well be the game-changer for future e-commerce. As we mentioned, many different types of content serve the e-commerce space well, and all of them benefit greatly from the insight of publisher first-party data.

But what about the content itself? Why is it important for Black Friday? Well, there are tens of millions of consumers set to purchase online during Black Friday, and that’s a lot of potential users to be missing out on. Think about your own online shopping process. You’re looking for the best product, for the best price, to specifically suit your needs. Where do you go to get insight and recommendations? Usually listicles, review content, or ‘best of 2021’ style articles, right? With events such as Black Friday, consumers expect content to be available to aid them in their search for the best deals–and if it’s personalized to their specific needs, that’s even better. And funnily enough, personalization just so happens to be one of the most vital advantages of first-party data.

The aforementioned types of content are commonplace online, as they help brands promote products, inform potential customers, and deliver a subtle yet direct sales pitch. But how often does this content miss the mark due to a lack of user understanding? Brands that begin to utilize publisher first-party data tools instantly gain more knowledge about their users than ever before. They can create targeted content to drive revenue through affiliate links, their own e-commerce activities, or larger-scale endeavors such as partnering with digital publishers to encourage mutual growth.

As the e-commerce space continues to evolve, first-party data will undoubtedly play a key role. It offers a direct line to consumer interests, purchase patterns, and identifying aspects that inspire them to buy. With this knowledge, publishers have already unlocked the most vital e-commerce tool of the near future, first-party data-driven content. By leaning into the e-commerce space and implementing revenue strategies that serve brands well, publishers can combine them with the first-party data tools and platforms they already possess. This creates a fruitful balance of content driving commerce–and e-commerce driving content–to present new and exciting opportunities for both publishers and brands to tap into previously unexplored markets.


Interested in learning more? Check out our article on why now is the time to plan your first-party data strategy.

Also, if you have any questions about how publishers can win with first-party data, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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