All About Bonsai
Publishers interested in working with Editorial Recommendations have long turned to Amazon. The eCommerce giant is undoubtedly one of the easiest ways to build up a revenue stream when using these articles, so there are plenty of reasons to focus your attention on Amazon as a publisher interested in working with Editorial Recommendations. However, the success of the company’s Onsite Associates Program has led numerous other eCommerce companies to begin rolling out their own Editorial Recommendations programs or, if they have already had them in place, to begin beefing them up. This is all good news for publishers, who now have more options than ever when writing and distributing Editorial Recommendations online.
However, it also leads to many new questions. Chief among them is whether or not a publisher actually needs Amazon. Right now, Buzzfeed is making a splash as it has announced it will be tapping the eCommerce platform Bonsai to begin driving in more revenue. Buzzfeed is notable among publishers for its success on the Internet. This impressive new move from the company is one example of how a publisher can take innovative steps to move away from traditional Editorial Recommendations and the programs set up by eCommerce giants such as Amazon and begin to create their own space in the online sphere. We will be examining Buzzfeed’s new undertaking and its partnership with Bonsai and exploring just what it may mean for publishers now and in the future.
Owning the Shopping Experience
Among the most notable things about Buzzfeed’s move to tap Bonsai as a resource is that Buzzfeed is now owning the shopping experience rather than merely recommending products to its readers. With Bonsai, Buzzfeed can now take control of what it can do with eCommerce rather than rely solely on other eCommerce platforms. This is important considering that Buzzfeed now stands on top as the leading independent publisher in the world.
Its new partnership with Bonsai will allow Buzzfeed to evolve and create a sustainable revenue stream based on the trust the brand has already built with its readers over the many years it has been posting its content online. With this new platform, Buzzfeed will quite literally own the consumer shopping experience from inspiration through to purchase, something that has eluded other publishers and eCommerce markets thus far. This has huge potential for the company and can teach us much, especially if we watch what the publisher does closely with their new platform.
Though many people may not have heard of Bonsai, they are still likely to make purchases and utilize the service based on the Editorial Recommendations posted by Buzzfeed because of the trust they have in the publisher, especially if they have been long time readers and they have made purchases based on their other Editorial Recommendations over the years. Bearing all that in mind, the Buzzfeed and Bonsai collaboration is sure to be a unique experience and one that other publishers can undoubtedly learn a lot from.
How the Bonsai and Buzzfeed Store Will Work
One of Bonsai’s unique things is that unlike other more traditional affiliate networks, it gives its publishers the ability to sell products natively without taking any inventory risk. As a publisher, Buzzfeed will continue to write its Editorial Recommendations about various products available on the Bonsai platform. Buzzfeed readers will be able to learn more about the products and develop an interest in them, and from there will form an interest in and a further intent to purchase the products. It will be a simple process for those reading about Buzzfeed’s products within their Editorial Recommendations to simply click on various links to go directly to the products, learn even more about them, and even complete their purchase all without leaving Buzzfeed.
As already mentioned, because Buzzfeed has such an authoritative voice and has been around for so many years, and because Bonsai is a newcomer on the eCommerce scene, there are many benefits to the method Buzzfeed and Bonsai are using with this platform. Because everything is kept in one place directly on Buzzfeed, authority and trust are not entirely lost in the purchasing process. Buyers will always feel that they can trust the seller and the products they are purchasing, first because Buzzfeed is recommending those products to them with their Editorial Recommendations and second because everything is kept in one place and they do not have to go elsewhere to make their purchase.
However, not all buyers will be ready to accept Bonsai when it comes to making their purchases. Though many will feel more comfortable than they might because of the experience that Buzzfeed and Bonsai are offering by keeping everything in one place, others might not yet be ready to work with an eCommerce company they have not yet heard of. This is perhaps why Buzzfeed is going to continue to work with the larger and much better-known eCommerce companies, including the true titans on the market, those being Amazon’s and Walmart’s affiliate programs.
Could Every Publisher Do This?
As publishers learn about the move that Buzzfeed is making in partnering with Bonsai to make sales directly through its site, it only stands to reason that many will be wondering whether it would be possible for them to build similar partnerships. It is important to note the incredible scale of Buzzfeed’s readership and just how many individuals view Buzzfeed’s articles, lists, and Editorial Recommendations daily. Even if only a small percentage of purchases are made for each of the Editorial Recommendations the publisher posts, that still amounts to many individuals and a large number of sales. Even if they are quite successful, the average publisher is not likely to have quite as many readers as Buzzfeed, nor are they likely to have their authority on the same scale.
To be competitive regarding product selection, Bonsai needs to be able to build scale in sellers. Therefore, it needs a publisher that can reach a broad audience and can drive sales. While there may be potential in the future for some publishers to build the necessary authority to do this, it is unlikely that there are many publishers at this time who will be able to work with Bonsai or other similar eCommerce stores to make this possible.
Can This Hurt a Publisher’s Editorial Reputation?
As an eCommerce retailer, Bonsai is assumed to create a pool of sellers who then take care of tasks such as fulfilling orders and negotiating affiliate deals, among other things. The publisher’s job is to work with Bonsai to pick from the pool of items available for purchase through Bonsai to write their Editorial Recommendations and then post them on their site for their readers. This means that Buzzfeed will be able to choose a variety of items to recommend for their articles from the pool of items that Bonsai has available. As their readership makes purchasing decisions based on their recommendations, they will be able to create a revenue stream that will only continue to grow as individuals click on items and make purchases. However, this does lead to some questions.
One of the biggest questions that publishers interested in this sort of platform would want to consider is whether or not potential buyers would see these as typical Editorial Recommendations or if this would be seen as Advertorial content instead. Because the items are available for purchase directly on Buzzfeed, it might seem to some individuals that the publisher recommends to their readers items that they are selling themselves, even though it is Bonsai that has the items available and is selling them. It is possible this could blur the lines between Buzzfeed simply recommending the items and the publisher being actively engaged in selling the products, something that could devalue the credibility that the publisher has established over the years.
There are undoubtedly many things that Buzzfeed will need to take into consideration to ensure that its credibility is not lost as it makes its move to integrate Bonsai further into its current platform. As it first begins to roll out Bonsai and utilize its eCommerce tools in its Editorial Recommendations, it will be doing so by including widgets in tandem with its content. Because this is something that many shoppers have likely seen before, it is probable that most people will be more inclined to make purchases and that the publisher will not lose much credibility.
However, Buzzfeed will need to be more careful as its partnership with Bonsai deepens, and it begins to create a more extensive and a more branded marketplace for the items that it will start to sell. Those individuals who are already loyal to Buzzfeed and who browse the publisher’s articles and Editorial Recommendations regularly are likely going to be more comfortable with the publisher’s user experience, especially if they are exposed to it from the beginning. Where things could become tricky for Buzzfeed is potential shoppers who do not visit the site regularly and who may not have the same established trust in the publisher.
One thing that could be important for Buzzfeed moving forward is making sure that even as they continue to grow in their partnership with Bonsai, they do not cease their work with Amazon and Walmart’s affiliate programs. As already mentioned, the publisher does have plans to continue crafting Editorial Recommendations for these two eCommerce platforms. It remains to be seen whether this will carry on into the future, but having a good mixture of both could lead to a significant amount of success for Buzzfeed. It would allow them to capture a mix of both markets—those who are loyal to the publisher already and the more casual readers who may stop in from time to time but who will need the pull of an established and credible eCommerce brand to entice them to make a purchase.
Among all publishers online, Buzzfeed has consistently stood out as a trendsetter. It has been a leader with its Editorial Recommendations for many years now, curating lists of items online and helping get them in front of the public eye while also building up a revenue stream for themselves in the process. Many publishers can learn a lot from examining what Buzzfeed has done in the past when it comes to Editorial Recommendations, and this new partnership with Bonsai is no different.
It should be noted that it remains to be seen just what will be possible for publishers interested in launching their own sales networks with eCommerce platforms such as Bonsai. Buzzfeed is a true powerhouse in the publishing world. Its sheer scale is one of the driving forces behind it, building itself up as a marketplace for items rather than simply a publisher that recommends items to its readership. However, if Buzzfeed is successful, and it seems likely that it will be, this could open up the door for other publishers to begin creating their own marketplaces in a similar fashion in the future.
Regardless of how a publisher intends to work in this space, there are several things to note. Among them is the fact that regardless of how a publisher plans to operate, it is always vital to have an authoritative voice and be certain that you have the credibility needed to entice potential readers to make a purchase. Whether or not Buzzfeed’s new venture will be successful all comes down to whether or not it will continue to remain credible as its new marketplace opens up to readers.