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The Commerce Awards for Publishers 2020: Key takeaways from the winners

Posted 4 years ago by Helena Kohl

The Commerce Awards for Publishers were held virtually for the first time on September 17. The event brought together leading content publishers in the US and celebrated the hard work, dedication and creativity that goes into producing high-quality commerce content in 2020. 

The 17 award winners were decided by a panel of industry experts from AWIN, Rakuten Advertising, CJ Affiliate, Impact and Digiday. 

This year, Skimlinks released new award categories that reflect the incredible service journalism that publishers have offered their readers in 2020, including The Best Give Back Article Award and The Best Face Mask Article Award. 

Best Streaming Article

Winner: Guide to streaming: from Disney Plus and HBO Max to NBA League Pass and Crunchyroll | Vox Media 

Streaming services were already growing at a rapid pace before the COVID-19 crisis, and only accelerated as they replaced in-theater viewing due to cinema closures this year. This article helped Vox’s readers to navigate the streaming wars, focusing particularly on the user experiences, original programming options and value for money offered by each service. The judges felt that this article most successfully helped shoppers in their content discovery journey, and Vox received bonus points for the SEO-friendly headline, and for keeping this article up-to-date.  

Key takeaway: Help your readers to navigate the streaming wars with an easy-to-navigate, regularly updated article that clearly lists the opportunities and limitations of each. 

Best Beauty Article

Winner: 11 inclusive makeup brands with products for all skin tones | USA TODAY

Inclusive, authentic and accessible beauty brands tend to earn consumers’ trust in the long run. This article from USA Today helped their readers to discover beauty brands who embrace diversity not only in terms of race, but also with regards to age, gender identity, and body size. The judges felt that this article was the most comprehensive and well-researched of the nominated articles. 

Key Takeaway: An article that showcases inclusive beauty brands who engage their audiences in a meaningful way, across a variety of price points, will perform best. 

Best Fashion Article

Winner: 21 Vogue Editors Share the Best White T-Shirts | Vogue

Evergreen content that readers return to time and time again drives reliable and consistent revenue for publishers. Even during Q4, when shopping moments like Black Friday and Cyber Monday dominate the retail calendar, our data shows that evergreen articles, like this one, can drive up to 42% of a publishers’ revenue. This article’s regularly refreshed listicle format, competitive and authoritative headline, and highly visible shopping buttons most impressed the judging panel, who were happy to award it The Best Fashion Article Award. 

Key Takeaway: Evergreen fashion articles about a “unifying closet staple” such as this are powerhouses of commerce content, that readers can rely on to update their wardrobes, and publishers can rely on for reliable traffic and conversions. 

Best Homeware Article

Winner: Where you can still find household essentials | In The Know

Homeware suddenly took on new significance in 2020, with household essentials such as toilet paper and cleaning supplies in short supply due to the COVID-19 crisis. In this article, In The Know staffers quickly reacted to the shortage, providing immediate service journalism to their readers to help them to navigate the pandemic, and discover these hard-to-find items online. By doing so, they not only provided a valuable service to their readers, but also increased the variety of merchants that they feature in their commerce content, including Staples, Home Depot and Sam’s Club. 

Key Takeaway: Service journalism is key in the homeware category, where readers rely on publishers to help them to clean, refresh or decorate their homes.

Best Face Mask Article

Winner: Here’s Where to Buy a Face Mask Online Right Now, Per Experts | Prevention

Face coverings became the new normal in 2020, and readers needed a reliable source to navigate these new products, and discover the most comfortable and durable options. We received over 30 entries into this award category, but Prevention clearly went above and beyond, consulting Dr Pate M.D. who explained how to wear a face mask effectively, and also featured merchants who were also donating masks to the frontlines. 

Key takeaway: Educate your readers responsibly with credible sources, feature a comprehensive array of merchants, including those who are giving back to the community and empower your audience to use their buying power for good. 

Best Earth Day Article


Sustainability has reached an inflection point and retailers are expected to provide ethical consumers with transparent supply and production chains. Publishers have pivoted to address this head-on, with sustainable product round-ups that are cleverly repurposed for Earth Day each year, to maximize SEO. This year, Reviewed and Refinery 29 tied for the prize, with the judging panel equally impressed by both publishers’ creative article formats and product recommendations that inspired their readers to take a proactive approach towards saving our environment. 

Key takeaway: Cater to your ethical readers with sustainable shopping recommendations that are equally helpful for annual events like Earth Day, and gifting events like the Holiday Season.  

Best Give-Back Article

Winner: 63 Black-Owned Clothing Brands for 2020 | Cosmopolitan

Brands giving back to the community via COVID-19 relief donations and racial justice initiatives have played a huge role in the e-commerce landscape in 2020. Cosmopolitan published this winning article as part of their site-wide pledge to address racial injustice, and champion members of the BIPOC community in their editorial content. The judges were impressed by Cosmopolitan’s comprehensive guide to Black-owned businesses as part of their ongoing mission. 

Key takeaway: Comprehensive round-ups of high-quality brands who are giving back to the community in a meaningful and authentic way will resonate best with readers. 

Best Black Friday 2019 Article

Winner: Walmart’s epic Black Friday sale just went live: The 17 best deals to shop before they sell out | Yahoo 

We had some seriously strong competition for the winner of the Best Black Friday article – publishers all brought their A games, featuring the best deals for their readers and updating product links in real-time. The judges agreed that the prize had to go to Yahoo, however, whose epic round-up of the 17 best deals at Walmart was one of their most profitable articles of 2019.  

Key Takeaway: Leaning into both store-specific deal articles and category-wide deal articles this Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Create urgency in your headlines to persuade shoppers that these are the deals they absolutely can’t miss. 

Best Evergreen Article

Winner: The 9 Best Mattresses for Back Pain of 2020 | Very Well Health 

Evergreen content is crucial to a successful commerce content strategy, in fact, up to 50% of publishers’ annual revenue originates from evergreen articles that were published in the previous year. This article from Very Well Health provides a great example of high-quality, well-researched service journalism that was well-deserving of the award for Best Evergreen Article. 

Key Takeaway: Use our Evergreen Report to identify your over-performing and under-performing evergreen articles and optimize accordingly! 

Best Technology Article

Winner: 5 Best Password Managers of 2020: Features, Pricing, and Tips | WIRED

WIRED went above and beyond to help educate their readers about password managers, managing to cover what might have been a dry content vertical in a humorous, tongue-in-cheek tone, with five key product recommendations that met their readers’ varied needs, plus ‘Honorary Mentions’ that maintained the readers’ attention throughout. The traffic and conversions really stood out for this article, showing the importance of easily-navigable and digestible technology content that quickly solves a readers’ problem.   

Key Takeaway: Keep technology round-ups short and sweet, which will give you more space to include comprehensive information about the positives and negatives of each product for your readers. 

Best Holiday Campaign

Winner: 130 People With Particular Taste on the Best Gift Under $104 | The Strategist

The Strategist’s hyper-specific gift guide helped their readers (including a few Skimlinks staffers) find thoughtful, considerate gifts for even the choosiest of recipients. The judges were deeply impressed by the unique and diverse range of gifts featured, the quality of the consultants surveyed (including Ina Garten!), at a range of price points accessible to their various readers. 

Key Takeaway: Spark joy for your readers this holiday season by featuring a diverse range of gifts at accessible price points. 

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