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Future PLC drove nearly $1 billion in e-commerce sales in 2020

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Written by publishing team

Future PLC’s 2020 e-commerce business boom has moved into 2021.

The British media company – which owns brands such as Tom’s Guide, Cinema Blend, Golf Monthly and Marie Claire – generated nearly $1 billion in e-commerce revenue for its affiliate partners in 2020, driven by perpetual content and shopping holidays like Amazon’s Prime Day, as it turns more From people to online shopping during pandemic lockdowns.

In the first half of 2021, Future saw the money it makes from other companies’ product sales increase 56% year over year, to about $62 million. Revenue for e-commerce affiliates in the first half of 2021 was £85.2 million, or approximately $116.5 million. This revenue represents more than 30% of Future’s total revenue, according to James Neves, head of US commercial marketing at Future PLC. From November 2020 through March 2021, Future generated 272.6 million pounds (or $374.0 million) in total revenue, up 89% year-on-year, according to the company’s financial report released in May.

Future sold $960 million in sales order value (or SOV, the total value of a product sold via Future content) to affiliate partners in 2020 via Hawk, its price comparison platform launched in 2013. Hawk automatically identifies products and sellers that you The company selects an affiliate relationship with these links and embeds them in product review articles, so that readers can see prices and retailers alongside the products mentioned. Hawk works with major retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy and Target, as well as smaller affiliate partners.

The total number of transactions paid by Future grew by 109% in the US from April 2020 to April 2021. Future declined to specify the share of funds from each transaction the company holds. Commission rates can vary greatly by product and retailer and can range from single percentages to double digits.

“We are able to produce and display price changes in real time for various retailers, for millions of different products and services,” said Jason Webby, chief revenue officer for North America at Future PLC.

The pandemic is changing what people buy from Future

Webby said that when the pandemic hit and society shifted to remote work, Future noted that certain product categories were growing as a result. These categories included automobiles (243% increase globally year-over-year from April 2020 to April 2021), photography (179%), clothing (174%) and wellness (98%). The top items sold in the US were cameras, headphones, home appliances, health and beauty, and gym and fitness.

The company’s largest business categories, based on day-to-day transactions, are technology and video games. Computing products drive an average of 1,600 transactions per day, for example. Webby said that when the pandemic hit, people “needed to buy things like laptops to work from home, and they played video games while at home…and that enabled us to thrive during the pandemic.”

“Best” buying guides guide readers to the sites

Some technologies help support the e-commerce business of Future. Using the word “best” in the headlines helps their brands’ buying guides (a brief report on the “best” cycling shoes or washing machine) stand out in search engines. Webby said nearly 80% of future traffic from first-time visitors comes from people looking for the “best” products to buy. Evidence of purchase accounts for 60% of the SOV in Future annually. His top performing articles (based on SOV) have the keyword “best” in the title.

This can be tempting for brands looking to market their products and find ways to attract people to their sites. The iOS 14.5 update in April gave people more control over who tracks their data and “over the entire advertising world of businesses,” so that “brands need to think about how to differentiate between places they can drive traffic to their sites, such as ads, like ads,” said Ben Zettler, a marketing consultant. Digital and e-commerce, “Channels are becoming less successful than they have been in the past.” Affiliate links are a way to do that.

Hawk’s first-party data reveals “where a user enters our ecosystem from,” such as the search terms they brought to the Future site, what article they clicked on, how much time they spent on the page, whether or not they clicked the affiliate link and what was For him.

“We can understand the user journey, across all of our sites,” he said, adding that the data informs coverage, by identifying which articles are sending people to make purchases and which are not, based on which product categories are reviewed. “You can’t have it [information] of third-party data,” Webby said.

Old articles bring in new money, but shopping events are real revenue motivators

Webby said Future’s evergreen content has been driving sales conversions for years after its publication. Forty-nine percent of all SOVs in the first quarter of 2021 came from articles published before 2020. For example, Tom’s Guide’s mattress buying guide sells eight mattresses a day.

Webby said these guides “are updated a bit if there is a new version of the product, or if we add another retailer, but we stay the way it was originally written.”

But content related to current events also supports Future’s business. During this year’s Amazon Prime Day on June 21, Future generated more than $25 million in Prime Day sales in the US and UK. SOV is up 5% globally from last year’s event. Affiliate purchases in the lifestyle category are up more than 50% compared to Prime Day last year, due to Future’s acquisition of women’s publisher Marie Claire in May 2021.

Future will continue to expand into new segments to recommend products in more categories, according to Webby, possibly by adding more media brands to the Future portfolio. Webby said future CEO Zillah Bing Thorne “wants to do an acquisition every nine months”.

Future PLC drove nearly $1 billion in e-commerce sales in 2020

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