Mixing Content and E-Commerce, Pinterest’s New “Buy It” Buttons, Uncertain Future for Huffington Post, Changes at Medium, Tools for Visual Thinking, TFP’s Infographic Pick of the Week, Adobe DPS and InDesign Tips Digest: June 2015

Welcome to Technology for Publishing’s roundup of news and tips for media industry pros! This week, we’re sharing stories about publishers getting into the e-commerce business, Pinterest’s debut of “Buy it” buttons, the future of The Huffington Post in the wake of Verizon’s purchase of parent AOL, a change of direction at Medium, and more.

WWD magazine commerce image

  • Some magazines are looking to get into the e-commerce business, with the growth of online shopping sparking interest in selling (and profiting from) what they feature on their pages. But, according to a report from WWD, there’s a definite mix of opinion on whether that’s a good idea. The question of whether publishers should be selling stuff aside, given the issue of separation of church and state, it pointed out that no attempts so far have proved successful, noting that not only are there huge and costly logistics involved, but it’s just not publishers’ thing. Still, the article said companies like Time and Hearst, which have experimented with mixing content and commerce before, are cautiously investigating new models, seeing product sales as “a natural extension” in some places.
  • It’s not just publishers eyeing e-commerce as a new—and potentially strong—
    revenue stream. The New York Times reported social media site Pinterest has introduced “Buy it” buttons that will let its estimated 75 million users buy products from within pinned items. The idea is, rather than taking a percentage of retailers’ sales, the company will make money by selling promoted-pins ads to retailers—large and small—who insert the “buyable pins” into the ads. According to Tim Kendall, a company official quoted in the report, 87% of users have purchased items found on Pinterest and two-thirds of the digital bookmarking site’s content is from businesses. “The reality is that the experience is already a commercial experience,” he said.
  • Last week we highlighted a report that brought up the uncertainty surrounding tech media sites like TechCrunch and Engadget after Verizon’s recent purchase of parent AOL, but another AOL property “in limbo” is The Huffington Post, the Times said. While founder Arianna Huffington sent company executives a memo outlining big plans to expand video, blogging, and original content offerings, among other aggressive goals, she is said to be unsure whether they can be executed under Verizon, according to the report. Calling it a “pivotal moment” for the site, it quoted media analyst Ken Doctor, who noted that when media outlets are bought by companies that don’t have a “journalistic legacy,” it becomes unclear whether focus on editorial integrity can be maintained.
  • Another site seeing some big changes is Medium, which is steering a new course toward being a social media site rather than a publishing platform, Business Insider said. “Medium is not a publishing tool,” CEO Ev Williams said in the company’s announcement of the overhaul. “It’s a network. A network of ideas that build off each other. And people. And GIFs.” Its first order of business was to gut some of its most popular sites, the report said, along with some major structural changes and budget cuts. However, it said observers are confused by the site’s new strategy and unsure of what the outcome will be.
  • On the Technology for Publishing blog: In her latest article, TFP’s Mary Lester highlights some visual thinking tools she’s “a wee bit obsessed” about, like Think Kit, a new set of tools in the popular Paper by 53 drawing app.
  • Our Infographic Pick of the Week is jam-packed with facts and figures on how the different generations consume digital content, providing a breakdown by baby boomer, millennial, and Gen-X users.
  • And to help you easily catch up on any Adobe DPS and InDesign Tips you may have missed, we’ve compiled a digest of all our weekly posts since January. You can get that list on the TFP blog.

Image: WWD

Check out our blog for highlights of interesting and noteworthy stories from the publishing world every Friday, and sign up for TFP’s This Week in Publishing newsletter. Think we missed something great? Let us know! Leave a comment below or drop us a note.

Posted by: Monica Sambataro

Monica Sambataro is a contributing editor and copyeditor for Technology for Publishing. Her publishing background includes work for leading technology- and business-related magazines and websites.