Inside Good Housekeeping’s affiliate commerce business

Good Housekeeping isn’t the most modern-sounding of brands, but it is busily modernizing its business with a growing affiliate commerce arm.

The Hearst title relies on its century-old Good Housekeeping Institute, a product testing and research unit, which provides the fodder for over 3,000 product reviews Good Housekeeping runs a year. In the U.K., the Good Housekeeping Institute has 13 researchers testing a range of items like beauty products, fashion and tech appliances, like headphone buying guides or the five best matte lipsticks. The Institute has been running for nearly 100 years, launching shortly after the Good Housekeeping magazine.

These reviews carry links to purchase through partnerships with Amazon and affiliate companies like Skimlinks, while the publisher takes a cut of sales that it drives.

“[The Institute] really powers everything we do,” said Gaby Huddart, editor-in-chief, Good Housekeeping and group editorial director of Hearst Lifestyle. “Having that real expertise behind it, taking what they do and applying good journalism makes it more consumable and readable. It has been quite an effective strategy.”

Licensing and accreditation have been a longstanding strategy for Hearst U.K., over the years the publisher has developed Men’s Health gym equipment and Country Living Hotels. Total digital revenue for Good Housekeeping is up 7% year-on-year, although the publisher wouldn’t share specific numbers.

“Good Housekeeping has always been a brand that provides solutions to life problems,” said Betsy Fast, chief content development officer at Hearst UK. “It’s taking what we are known for, which is ‘you can trust us for this’ and making it easier for them to buy our recommendation.”

Lifestyle magazine readers are often a loyal cohort, especially in print, said independent media analyst Alex DeGroote. “Good Housekeeping is a robust and secure platform, that demographic practices high loyalty among.”

To illustrate that, Good Housekeeping has three newsletters, the most popular by open rate is the newsletter from the Good Housekeeping Institute, which has a very focused readership.

The publisher has also grown commerce revenue through bulking up its book recommendations on-site over the last six months. A popular section in the print magazine, online it’s creating more content like author-specific articles, like this piece about Margaret Atwood’s favorite books, tips for getting published and list-based articles, like this piece on Audible’s top thrillers of the year.  As a result, traffic to the books section on site grew 138% in October year-on-year, said the publisher.

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