Amazon Prime Day shows how important commerce revenue is getting for publishers

As Prime Day continues to expand — the shopping extravaganza will last 48 hours this year, up from 36 hours last year and 30 hours the year before that — publishers continue to devote more energy to it.

After driving 27 million of its readers to shop on Prime Day in 2018, Verizon Media Group is more than tripling the number of titles that will be distributing Prime Day content this year, after just two, AOL and HuffPost, participated in 2018. In 2019, TechCrunch, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Lifestyle, Yahoo Sports and Engadget will be involved, partly by creating their own content and partly by syndicating content across their titles, a spokesperson said.

Staffers across the titles will be working around the clock to curate and distribute information about deals across the titles, a common tactic that is growing harder for all publishers as Prime Day gets longer. CBS Interactive’s CNET, for example, treats Prime Day as an all-hands-on-deck situation, with 50 people, a majority of the publisher’s global editorial operation, which includes bureaus in New York, California, Australia and England, updating Prime Day deal stories and publishing new ones continuously starting on Sunday night.

“If you work on the editorial side, you’re not, not touching Prime Day,” said Mark Larkin, gm of CNET.

Last year, CNET drove the third-highest share of desktop referral traffic that Amazon received from any publisher during Prime Day, according to SimilarWeb. It hopes to exceed that target this year, in part by sharing more content — CNET’s internal goal is to increase the total number of Prime Day stories it publishes by 30% in 2019, Larkin said — and in part by updating those stories more frequently. CNET plans every 15 minutes to ensure they have the most current information, and to make sure it wins as much search traffic as possible: Last year, CNET won more “prime day” search keywords than Amazon did, according to a SimilarWeb analysis.

Beyond the expected bonanza of affiliate commissions, publishers have gotten better at using Prime Day to advance other strategic endeavors. In many cases, that involves working closely with different parts of Amazon’s organization. For example, Hearst worked with Amazon to make “Keto for Carb Lovers,” a book created earlier this year by Hearst’s growing consumer products studio, a Prime Day deal that Hearst will be able to market directly to its audience.

New York’s commerce vertical, The Strategist, will offer its readers several Prime Day-exclusive deals for the first time, including one on a coat that New York’s editorial coverage helped popularize several months ago.

Well after the deals have disappeared, publishers are able to use the affiliate conversion data they get from Prime Day to inform their future coverage strategies, covering products more or less aggressively depending on what audiences bought the most.

That data isn’t necessarily confined to Amazon sales, either. For the first time, Verizon Media Group’s brands will be highlighting sales offered by non-Amazon retailers, who are trying harder to leverage the shopping fever that Amazon whips up: Non-Amazon retailers will see their Prime Day revenues rise over 70% in 2019, according to Adobe estimates.

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