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With print advertising revenues falling sharply and magazine and newspaper circulations declining, forward-thinking publishers are seriously considering online marketplaces.

By building their proprietary online marketplace, brands like you can create their stores, synchronize products with their eCommerce catalog and pay a commission to the magazine or newspaper publisher.
Read all about it in the following post.

How did newspaper and magazine publishers go from selling ads to also selling products?

Andrew Rolf, previously head of Commercial Delivery at The Guardian, answers this question in an interview with Highstreet.io.

Savvy magazine publishers have always looked to build a revenue model that blends different streams; newsstand sales, advertising, subscriptions typically form the bulk of revenues. But magazine publishers have another way of generating income from the readers they have worked hard to establish. Selling products. And why not? Loyal audiences often see the magazine that serves their passion as the place for inspiration; it’s not a huge leap to satisfy that inspiration by offering an inventory of products. In the digital world, that inventory can be a click away.

Can you give me a brief overview of how newspapers and magazines went from selling print ads to products online?

Inspired by the Ad Age Advertising Century Timeline infographic and A Brief History and Outlook of Magazine and Newspaper Publishing article you can see how long it took print advertising to evolve and in less than 20 years, how everything changed.

1742
The first magazine advertisement was published in 1742 in Benjamin Franklin’s general magazine. The strategy was to sell subscriptions to big audiences and advertisers will spend large sums of money to reach your circulation. It was a profitable model that lasted for over 250 years.

1906
W.K.Kellogg places his first ads for Corn Flakes in six midwestern newspapers. By 1915, he is spending $1 million on national advertising.

1936
Life publishes its first edition. It later becomes the first magazine to carry $100 million annually in advertising.

1970s – Early 1990s
Newspaper circulation and advertising revenues hit their peak during the 1970s through the early 1990s. The declines that began in the mid-1990s corresponded with the emergence and adoption of the Internet as a supplemental or primary source of news for millions of Americans.

Then came the online age with a NEW advertising model.

1996
Doubleclick launched with a technology that tracked digital ads with a system called DART (Dynamic Advertising Reporting and Targeting. Ads brought a new monetization model to digital magazines.  By 1999 internet advertising broke the 2 billion dollar revenue mark as ad formats became more standardized.

2010
Fast-forward 11 years and the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) boasted digital ad revenues reached 26 billion dollars in 2010. Advertising platforms like digital video commercials, ad banners/display ads, sponsorships, and rich media reached nearly $10 billion.


In 2017 can online magazine and newspaper publishers compete with search engine and social media advertising? Where does eCommerce fit in?

It’s not a matter of competing with Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Marketing for sponsors’ dollars. Magazine and Newspaper Publishers need to complement those digital channels and find their niche in the online marketing ecosystem.
Advertising options are quickly evolving to more innovative content formats like:


Even with all of these engaging advertising formats and their potential revenue opportunity, publishers in 2016 are still worried about how to replace lost print sales.

The editors at AdAge comment on how the New York Times has included eCommerce as part of their revenue model.

“The New York Times, like most newspaper companies, hit hard by industry-wide declines in print advertising revenue, is looking to generate more digital consumer and advertising revenue.” explained the editors from The Ad Age. Mr. Thompson, in the release, said the Times is trying to become “an authoritative destination for service journalism.” In addition to a Cooking product, the company also has verticals dedicated to entertainment recommendations (Watching) and wellness (Well). The Wirecutter gives the company a gadget-focused vertical, and The Sweethome provides recommendations about home products.


Selling products online is becoming an important part of a digital strategy for newspapers and magazines. Which options are they exploring?

  1. Online Store
    In comparison to an online marketplace, an online store can sell products from one or multiple vendors but they control payment logistics, order fulfillment, and customer service. They are accountable for inventory and everything to do with the website and customer experience.
  2. Online Marketplace
    An online marketplace is a multi-vendor online store that offers numerous items from multiple vendors. Vendors can list their products in a marketplace, but they need to be accountable for everything from their product listings to payment logistics, order fulfillment, and customer service. The most popular examples include Amazon, eBay & Etsy. Online marketplaces have fewer upfront costs. With that comes less control over the post-sale logistics like customer service, shipping, and delivery.
  3. Affiliate Model
    Advertisers can use an affiliate marketing network to advertise specific products on websites with related content. Affiliate websites could include Mommy Blogs with advertisements for baby products or Elle Magazine featuring fashion items from advertisers.


Which magazine and newspaper sites have adopted an eCommerce strategy?

In the publishing world, niche magazine websites with loyal audiences see the most success with eCommerce.


What is the best approach with matters to eCommerce strategy?

In the case of magazine and newspaper publishers, there is no perfect choice to enter the world of selling products online. Each model has pros and cons. It’s worth looking into each of these models to get more information.
What Highstreet.io can speak to is our experience with integrating Online Marketplaces with Online Shops.

Is there such a thing as an Online Shop with a Marketplace? What do I need to consider when looking for a vendor?

Online marketplaces can be easily integrated into an existing online store. Read our advice before you choose your supplier/s.

  • Do your research. Important factors to consider include finding vendors that can work with your eCommerce platform, scaling their services as the site grows, and the ability to connect multiple vendors to different types of platforms.
  • Connect with potential providers and ask questions about their customer service and workflow. Make sure they are responsive and available to work with you as a partner as well as a supplier.
  • Look for an experienced and cost-effective technology vendor. A company that knows what they are doing AND can scale with your company as you grow.

Next Steps

Highstreet.io has the expertise to provide large-scale eCommerce sites and content publishers with the framework to transform their properties into thriving marketplaces in a short period with a small investment. Contact Highstreet.io at info@highstreet.io to book a consultation on this topic. We’d be happy to share our experience and knowledge with you.