In a new venture empowering its publishers to monetise images and video, Awin has teamed up with Monotote. The e-commerce platform specialises in turning images and video content into shoppable products online.

In the light of the new collaboration, PerformanceIN caught up with Paul Stewart, head of publisher services at Awin, to find out more about how the new partnership works and what benefits it might bring Awin’s clients.

Paul, could you tell us how the partnership came about?

Paul Stewart: Awin is always on the lookout for new publishers and technologies, and Monotote came recommended to us via our Dutch colleagues. They’ve been working with Zalando and Sanoma, in particular, a Belgian lifestyle magazine, and have shown impressive results. What initially peaked our interest was that they had a solution that offered end-to-end encryption, placed the orders on the advertiser’s website in the same way a standard customer would and could integrate with no technical resource required from the advertiser. From there, we got them in for a demo, asked a bunch of questions and decided to enter into a partnership.

The concept of a universal shopping cart isn’t new; it’s probably on the roadmap for a lot of publishers and advertisers out there, but for one reason or another it hasn’t gained as much traction as the initial hype would have suggested. With the Awin and Monotote partnership, we’ve hopefully made a technically difficult thing a lot easier and more cost-effective than ever before for a lot of advertisers and publishers.  

In your opinion, how will the partnership affect Awin and its clients?

PS: Without getting too ahead of ourselves, there is the potential to significantly alter the way our clients – advertisers and publishers – do affiliate marketing, to everyone’s betterment.

The reason I think that is because Monotote’s solution is customer-centric, it improves the e-commerce experience by allowing customers to purchase at the point of inspiration, not several clicks down the line. Ultimately, publishers will begin sending sales, not clicks, and this means the insight into what customers are doing before purchasing will stay with the publishers, allowing them to really optimise their content to convert.

The nicest way I’ve heard the solution described is to think of it as a ‘wormhole’ into multiple advertisers check-outs from a publisher’s own page. This is important as the quickest way to lose a customer’s interest is to disrupt what they’re trying to do, be that with unnecessary forms, asking to re-enter information or showing them something out of context. Monotote significantly reduces the disruption, but equally important is that it allows the publisher to concentrate more on the content and less on the link destination. For the advertiser, integrating with Monotote is easy, secure and will lead to improved conversion rates, all without having to do any additional technical work, all tracked as usual via the Awin interface and paid for on a performance basis.

For me, this kind of shopping experience will become the norm, it’s just a matter of when it becomes standard, not ‘if.’ Thanks to this partnership, Awin’s clients have an opportunity to help both push the industry forwards and be an early adopter.

Could you explain in a bit more detail how Monotote’s solution works?

PS: For advertisers, Monotote creates a shopping engine, which is a real-time API of all the products currently listed on an advertiser’s website. This can be done by utilising existing APIs or by scrapping the site once a day at a low trafficked time. When an item is added to the shopping cart on a publisher’s website, the customer’s data is encrypted on the page, passed to the Monotote API and then an order is placed by Monotote’s server on the adviser’s website, in the same way that a customer would, but in almost real-time. All orders are placed through Monotote’s secure API over an SSL connection and are highly encrypted.

Payment information is deleted from servers immediately after an order is completed, and every part of the process is PCI-compliant. For the customer, they will receive a confirmation email from the publisher – customisable from within the Monotote dashboard – and then the usual confirmation email the advertiser sends with a purchase.  

For publishers, we’ll need to add one line of JavaScript to the pages they would like to make shoppable. Once Monotote has created a shopping engine for an advertiser, all products will be available via the Monotote dashboard for publishers to tag images and videos with – as long as they are signed up to the Awin programme.

Tagging is simple; for images simply add the image source to the tool in the dashboard, choose the tag format desired and this will be added to the publisher’s site; for videos – same process but specify the timings you’d like the buy buttons to appear at. To ensure the best customer experience, once a tag is placed, Monotote will crawl the specific product page on the advertiser’s website each time the tagged image is loaded on the publisher’s website. Crawls are limited for a set time period, meaning that if a product becomes out of stock, the tag will either be removed or replaced. The product check only happens on the specific advertiser page the product is listed on, meaning the site impact is minimal.

And what can we expect to see coming out of this partnership?

PS: By making the shopping experience contextual, expect to see a higher conversion, improved revenue, reduced admin time spent on link changes and more time for everyone to do the important stuff, like getting the content right. This partnership offers a cost-effective, performance-led way to really change the way people shop online and to help good content, in whatever form, really shine.

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