In the far reaches of Northern Europe, 40 miles south of the Arctic Circle, lies an innovation in eCommerce being launched by some of the most famous names in publishing. The technology in question has been developed by Spotin, based in Luleå, Sweden, and involves what they dub ‘friction-free content commerce’.
At last month’s FIPP World Media Congress in Cascais, Portugal, WNIP caught up with Spotin’s Founder & CEO, Kristoffer Karlsson, to learn more about a technology that promises to not only generate $$s in eCommerce revenue for publishers but, crucially, keep users within a publisher’s own site.
We started by asking Karlsson what the technology entailed, “We call our technology ‘friction-free content commerce’ because it allows a publisher to offer products anywhere on its site and enable checkout on the spot – without links or redirections. In short, it keeps users within a publisher’s site instead of sending them elsewhere. It’s a seamless shopping experience that publishers of all sizes can use.”
Most publishing revenue models have been built around traffic but Spotin reverses this by creating a single destination for content and shopping. By keeping traffic on your own site it becomes far more valuable.Kristoffer Karlsson, Founder & CEO, Spotin
The technology works by placing a subtle ‘blue spot’ (or in Vogue Scandinavia’s case, a white spot) on selected imagery. Hovering over the image subsequently opens a commercial layer where the product can be directly purchased, or as Karlsson describes it, “it’s an in-content checkout experience that enables the point of discovery to become the point of sale.”
Early test results
The technology has now been launched by a number of publishers including Swedish publishing giant, Bonnier AB, and its brand Vogue Scandinavia (licensed from Condé Nast).
Regarding early results, Karlsson says that it depends on how the data is measured, “It would be easy for me to say that we’ve been seeing a 3x uplift but that would be disingenuous. Statistics are easily swayed – results depend on the content, the audience, and the product.
“Feedback is what we’re looking for, and so far it’s been good. Publishers have been surprised by how fast we can set up their eCommerce pages using our tech. I’d rather work with the evidence and we’re continually working on improving the call to action, button links, and everything else.”
Spotin is continually building its knowledge bank of how and where its technology is used, and this data pool is fed back to publishers, for example, in terms of what images work best and why.
We are building the service continually and an essential part of our roadmap is working with publishers to learn about how we can further improve the tech and the user experience. It’s a two-way conversation because we have a lot to learn from publishers and vice versa.Kristoffer Karlsson, Founder & CEO, Spotin
That’s not to say the tech doesn’t come with its own challenges. One hurdle is that publishers need to get more adept at producing commerce content, whilst another is that for Spotin to be fully optimized, website page layouts ideally need to sit somewhere between print and digital, “There is a lot of expertise developed around print page layouts and some of that needs to be integrated within website design for eCommerce to be fully harnessed.”
Another challenge is that Spotin’s tech doesn’t involve affiliate links or redirections which means the publisher needs to have existing, direct relationships with its selected brands, “It can be fairly labor intensive but we have gateways for each client and technical integration with each brand is straightforward.”
Many publishers have relationships with the brands and our tech deepens the relationship and makes it more valuable.Kristoffer Karlsson, Founder & CEO, Spotin
For publishers willing to put in the hard work, however, early results appear promising. More publishers are joining the platform every month and Karlsson is quick to point out that by keeping users within a website, the audience value is magnified, “You have to ask why are audiences on a publisher’s website? It’s because they value the content discovery. By using Spotin, publishers can maximize and develop this relationship instead of sending traffic and revenue to third parties.”