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BuzzFeed, Time, TikTok, and other publishers are getting into commerce. Here’s why advertisers should care

To boost revenues and reach, publishers are bypassing traditional retailer affiliate partnerships and experimenting with direct commerce. This helps brands tap into publishers’ massive audiences and ensure a brand-safe environment for their content.

Here are three recent examples of how publishers are getting into commerce and why advertisers should pay attention.

1. BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed has created an online storefront for its wellness brand Goodful, powered by independent brand aggregator Verishop.

  • The site will launch in conjunction with BuzzFeed’s Creator Collective, a group of wellness creators who will help drive Goodful’s content and curated products across TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.
  • BuzzFeed is hoping to evolve its commerce model across all of its brands, Jessica Probus, BuzzFeed's head of content, told Axios. BuzzFeed is deprioritizing Shop BuzzFeed, a site where users can purchase BuzzFeed-branded merchandise.

Why it matters: Last year, BuzzFeed made $68.1 million from commerce and other revenues (including affiliate partnerships and product licensing), about 16% of the company’s total revenues. But the company is clearly serious about ecommerce and is ready to move beyond its historically affiliate-based structure.

2. Time

Time Stamped, created with Taboola Turnkey Commerce, is an ecommerce and content platform that provides product and service recommendations and reviews.

  • The platform launched with personal finance content on credit cards, banking, loans, insurance, and investing, but Time hopes to expand into other ecommerce categories, including home, consumer tech, travel, and fashion.
  • As this is Time’s first venture into ecommerce, it’s smart to leverage its established reputation as a publisher into the product recommendation space.

Why it matters: Time has a global audience of 105 million people and over 51 million followers across its social media accounts. In the US, Time has 29.2 million print and digital readers with an average annual household income of over $114,000. We suspect advertisers will flock to the platform in order to leverage Time’s massive reach.

3. TikTok’s Pulse Premiere

TikTok’s Pulse Premiere, an extension of its creator monetization program, Pulse, allows publishers including Condé Nast, NBCUniversal, and Vox Media to sell ads alongside their content and get half of the revenues.

This move is likely part of TikTok’s efforts to make the platform more appealing to publishers as a possible US ban looms. It may be particularly attractive to publishers concerned about brand safety—TikTok said the program gives advertisers “control and predictability to place their ads directly after content from premium publisher content on TikTok's For You feed.”

Why it matters: We predict TikTok’s ad revenues will grow 23.1% to reach $6.19 billion this year. By offering 50% of ad revenues, TikTok is offering publishers a much-needed lifeline as they struggle with layoffs and bankruptcies. But a potential US ban hasn’t left the table, so publishers should still diversify their revenues outside of TikTok.


This was originally featured in the Retail Daily newsletter. For more retail insights, statistics, and trends, subscribe here.