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Monetising news media with embedded e-commerce

2021-10-05. | Sponsored Content | Svenska Dagbladet, one of Sweden’s largest news publishers, runs e-commerce for digital audience monetisation. During WAN-IFRA’s recent Digital Media Europe event, Johanna Molander Business Manager for New Business, Svenska Dagbladet, explained how embedded e-commerce is proving a winner for the Schibsted title.

by Steve Shipside sshipside@aol.com | October 5, 2021

For those unfamiliar with embedded e-commerce, Molander was introduced by Mikaela Jaconelli, Director of Client Success, at Tipser, which specialises in enabling any digital point of contact to be an e-commerce interface.

The essential benefit is that instead of readers being redirected when they click on something of interest, and forced to jump through transactional hoops, they can instead buy directly from what they are reading. You see something in your editorial content that you like; you buy it right there. 

Jaconelli took participants through the frictionless transactions proposed by Tipser, after which Molander discussed Svenska Dagbladet’s experience with the approach.

E-commerce revisited

Back in 2009, Svenska Dagbladet was looking for revenues outside of their core product and started a new business area as a brand extension in order to capitalise on its strong brand. They did it mainly within the areas of travels, arts and events.

“But we found out the revenues didn’t match the resources for customer management, logistics, and administration in house,” Molander said. “Basically it was just too much work, the market wasn’t mature enough just yet, and we didn’t reach our target group. So we quit, and instead focussed on unique offers in those areas of travel, arts, and events.”

Focusing on those strong areas continued to pay off, but earlier this year, Molander began to think again about e-commerce.

“We are still looking for new revenue streams, and we see the boost in ecommerce in general, and the trend amongst publishers to start their own e-commerce, including our system company in Norway, Aftenposten and Aftonbladet in Sweden.”

Unsurprisingly, the pandemic also played its part. 

“Since we haven’t been able to do physical events for the last year and a half, we kind of had the resources to use for something else. And which in this case then happened to be e-commerce,” Molander said.

E-commerce V.2. strategy

This brought Svenska Dagbladet to look at Tipser, not least because of its inventory management, order handling, and customer servicing, all of which got a tip of the hat from Molander.

“The strategy is still to capitalise on a very strong brand while staying relevant to our readers. So we want to grow revenue outside of the core product but also to strengthen our relationship with our customers,” she said.

There are also some relatively ambitious financial targets at play here.

“In terms of numbers we see the potential in this business area, and we aim to more than double the revenue in 2022,” Molander said. “One big advantage is that the shop is contained within this basket or product environment. The customer will have the feeling that they buy the product from us, and everything is done in our environment. So we don’t let the customer slip away.”

That customer retention and the understanding of the customers effectively become a virtuous circle.

“The starting point is always our knowledge about our customers’ areas of interest,” she said. “Our customers have high expectations; they want high quality. And they do trust us. So it’s important to find brands that match those values. That said, we need a good price because we don’t offer unique products and can’t compete on range or speed of delivery.”

Fortunately, that strong brand Molander referred to earlier is also appreciated by vendors.

“Our merchants don’t just see us as a channel; they see the value in our marketing and the partnership with us,” she said.

Looking ahead

“It’s still early on and we are trying different products and prices. I hope and think that by the beginning of next year we will know more about what products work or not,” Molander said.

They are also experimenting across formats.

“We do the marketing in our newsletters, in print, and in digital formats including e-paper and lifestyle, but the key to it all is that we make it clear it’s not just editorial content but advertisement,” she said.

While Molander is clear that the results are still only now unfolding, part of her confidence comes from the fact that they are keeping it lean and agile.

“We are a very small and flexible team,” she said. “It’s me as a business manager, an external copywriter, and an art director working a few hours a week. So we didn’t need to invest in recruitment or changing the organisation. Which means it was a low risk. We are seeing a positive growth in sales and traffic all in a very short period of time. We reached break even quicker than expected.”

Quick enough to allow for some directional decision making.

“It has made us focus on ecommerce going forward, and we may not do as much on physical events as we did before,”

Which bodes well for ongoing agility: itself a key to survival in this area. So any parting tips from the Tipser experience?

“I would say build a network of merchants, find those products you want to sell and find the brands to get on board,” she said. “I think that has been a bigger challenge than we thought it would be. But we do see the potential and it is all with a very low risk.”

Steve Shipside

sshipside@aol.com

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