Users want online content. We love it all. You know, reading the news, watching hilarious cat videos, reminiscing with "the '80s were great" listicles and finding new healthy hot chocolate recipes. Content is everything.
BUT... Users don't want to pay for content.
It's lost on most everyone that producing and distributing content requires talent (believe it or not), takes time and costs money. Everything from paying writers and editors to buying video equipment and covering infrastructure.
BUT... Users don't want ads. They're over them.
I get why. And so do you. Paywalls stop a user's flow, and mean ongoing payments. Subscriptions are declining. And display ads have become bonkers --- think screen takeovers, slowed down browsing, and loud auto-play videos.
BUT... At the same time, users want to buy everything online.
FreshDirect, Peapod, Blue Apron, Amazon Prime, Zappos, Stitch Fix, Rent The Runway, Thrive Market, Tire Rack, and on and on and on. You can buy everything online. (And I do.)
The intersection of not wanting ads and buying everything online is the opportunity. It's Native Commerce, and it's a major driver of revenue for online publishers.
Publishers who help their readers discover products, without taking away from the user's experience, are having a hay day. They do this by integrating eCommerce in helpful, witty and effortless ways:
- Gift Guides, like on our own Pressed.
- Linked text. Everywhere, all the time.
- Products Blog -- check out NY Mag's Strategist.
- Sponsored content, that's written well -- something interesting for an actual audience.
- Video tutorials
There are lots of creative and seamless ways to bring products to readers. The key is to know your audience, feature relevant products and be committed to a good user experience. This is what Okanjo does (the whole transforming content into commerce thing).
Help users find products and enhance your content. Don't inundate, don't sell and don't blast with ads.