What are the monetization techniques that a lifestyle digital publisher could use and that normal digital publishers don’t use?
While many monetization techniques, such as driving revenue with video content or affiliate marketing, are best-suited for lifestyle publishers, other digital publishers have already started to tap into their benefits. My research revealed three monetization platforms that are geared toward lifestyle publishers: AdCompass/Improve Digital, BrandCycle, and Witlee. The first of the three is for European luxury lifestyle brands specifically. Overall, affiliate marketing is the technique with strongest links to lifestyle publishers, though it's slowly being adopted by others.
I searched overviews of monetization strategies for digital publishers, and lifestyle publishers specifically, case studies and reviews of tools utilized for this purpose, articles about monetization strategies of top players, and job descriptions for sales, marketing, and affiliate relationships positions. With no mentions of such techniques, I concluded that there are no strategies that can only be useful for lifestyle publishers. At least, none of them have been publicly described. Instead, I provided two methods that are especially effective in the lifestyle space and three tools geared toward lifestyle publishers.
Please note that while I focused on the UK wherever possible, monetization for lifestyle publishers in this region isn't well-covered. Despite trying to substitute expert articles with case studies of particular publishers and job postings, I didn't find enough information. Therefore, I also provided US examples. One source I found indicates that in general, US and UK publishers have a similar outlook on monetization.
According to AdExchanger, affiliate marketing has been a consistent, incremental revenue stream for most startup and legacy lifestyle publishers. However, the article mentions that news publishers, especially digital-first ones, have also been using this technique. Business Insider thinks that publishers are improving the reputation of affiliate marketing, with it quickly gaining ground on more established methods, such as advertising.
Most commonly, publishers embed links within the organic content. It's especially effective considering that 74% consumers visit 2-3 non-retail websites before making a purchase. Interestingly, GQ.com, a major player in the US digital lifestyle publishing space, increased its revenue by 166%.
BrandCycle is a fairly new monetization/affiliate marketing platform, dedicated specifically to lifestyle publishers. It connects top publishers with retailers, allowing the former to "earn commission on content, products, photos, and more." They can create cost-per-acquisition campaigns, offers, and deals. Please note that this platform is only for publishers from specific niches within the lifestyle space, i.e., parenting, wedding, home decor, style, health and wellness, and green.
While the platform is relatively new, according to Digital Commerce 360, the initial feedback was very positive. Publishers think it adds value to their content because they have so much control over which brands they choose to work with.
Video content is a monetization technique that can be used by any digital publisher. However, AdAge mentions that "news doesn't quite monetize as well as lifestyle fare," which indicates that digital publishers can be especially successful using this method. It's also worth noting that in 2016, most US and UK publishers agreed that video would be their key revenue driver. While the survey wasn't restricted to lifestyle ones, I decided to include this method given the popularity of lifestyle videos. Please note that even non-lifestyle publishers, such as Time and Mic, tap into lifestyle when trying to monetize video.
AdCompass provides its services to over 300 business and luxury lifestyle publishers across Europe. In 2016, it partnered with Improve Digital and adopted its monetization platform to optimize the advertising process for its clients. Revenue has increased by 80% in six months. Tha platform is cloud-based and data-driven. It allows publishers to achieve the optimal price-per-impression, gives them more control over bidding and pricing, and provided automatic optimaization and detailed reporting.
While the functionalities of the platform, such as programmatic advertising, aren't solely for lifestyle brands, I decided to include this tool, as there are no methods that are only for lifestyle publishers.
Witlee, founded by former eBay employee, Doron Gavra, is an e-commerce platform that wants to provide publishers with an effective tool to monetize their content. According to its founder, affiliate links are not enough, because publishers only make money when the product is sold, and there are many attribution errors. He sees a huge gap between how lifestyle publishing industry and tech companies monetize their audiences. The app doesn't require any additional work, such as development or integration, and utilizes existing content. There is no information on its effectiveness.
In conclusion, affiliate marketing is a technique which is strongly tied to lifestyle publishing. However, other types of publishers also use it. Additionally, most digital publishers see videos as their key revenue driver, with lifestyle videos being especially popular. Overall, industry media and/or corporate sources don't cover techniques that are solely for digital lifestyle publishers, specifically those in the UK. Some of the tools that are geared toward digital publishers include BrandCycle, AdCompass/Improve Digital platform and Witlee. AdCompass is for business and luxury lifestyle publishers in Europe, including those in the UK.