Onsite shopping is adopted by The Strategist.

What are the implications for advertisers?


  • The Strategist launched an onsite shopping tool, leveraging Bonsai's tech.

  • Publishers are finding new ways to be compensated as their influence over e-commerce grows

New York Magazine’s The Strategist has launched its own onsite shopping tool, which it hopes will streamline the process of browsing and shopping on The Strategist website itself. On certain articles, readers will be able to add the recommended products into one shared shopping cart, even if they come from multiple different merchants.

Like many other digital publications, The Strategist is working through Bonsai as a way to make sure people don’t have to leave a site to make a purchase. "Bonsai creates a simple back-end script implementation that publishers can embed into their CMS", said Erik Raney, Commercialization Manager at Bonsai.

We’re essentially cutting out the middle man element of an affiliate network, and helping publishers retain their users and allow them to capture first-party data.”

Lacie Thompson, founder and CEO of LT Partners, said Bonsai does solve a problem that a lot of performance marketers have: content naturally has a lot more leakage than bottom-of-the-funnel partners.

Adding an onsite shopping tool, however, comes with the risk of impacting consumer trust.

Thompson wonders how consumers will react to the shift, and said she thinks there’s a risk that it will “detract from the theoretical editorial integrity.” Customers already have a hard time finding negative information about a product or brand because what is written about it is often written to sell, she said, adding that companies like The Strategist will likely be closely monitoring traffic, engagement rates and purchase volume to see how their audience’s trust may have changed.

While the concept of a universal shopping cart isn’t a new one, retailers may have been reluctant to adopt them because they want to own the customer experience on their own site, said Alison Chew, founder of MealFinds. But that may be changing, she said.

“Now you have huge mass media publishers that can drive a substantial number of conversions with universal shopping carts, giving some brands no option other than to work with them or potentially lose a lot of sales and new customers to competitors,” she said.

A universal shopping cart may also allow some brands to be discovered in a new way or benefit from having exposure alongside an affinity brand, said Sarah Beeskow Blay, Vice President of Silverbean. Still, Thompson said there are some potential challenges. With onsite shopping, content providers are challenged to offer all the information the shopper needs to make the purchase. Shoppers may get frustrated because they can’t just go to the product’s website to do their own research.

“What you’ll likely see for brands who have a lot of content is an influx in branded paid search or organic search traffic because people will open a new tab and Google the product,”

“Ultimately, it will be the shopper’s reaction to the experience that will determine the fate of the company,” Thompson said.

Zooming up to the 100,000 foot level it seems clear that as content producers rely more on affiliate revenue they are going to find ways to be compensated for their contributions. As the industry continues to grow that will likely be a blend of tactics, potentially ending the choke hold of last click.

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