One of the key themes at the virtual FIPP Congress 2020 was alternative revenue sources to traditional display advertising. For media companies, especially those with a print magazine heritage, ecommerce presents a huge opportunity. Creating and executing an affiliate system that enables consumers to buy goods directly from content-based web pages is however not a simple task.
Swedish company Tipser was set up just under a decade ago to square this particular circle. The company originally began working with influencers and bloggers but now works across Europe and counts many big media companies as its customers. It recently took its proposition to the United States too.
In this interview Marcus Jacobsson, CEO and Cofounder outlines the company’s history, highlights what makes it unique and explains how Tipser sees the future of content-based commerce.
So tell me a little about the history of Tipser? When were you set up? What are the key challenges you are trying to address?
Tipser was founded to provide influencers and bloggers with a universal technology that allows them to sell products to their followers. After a few successful proofs of concepts, we realised that to scale our business, we would need to bring our technology to the places on the internet where the large traffic is accumulated. This led us to the big digital traffic platforms, such as magazines, nationwide news media corporations, marketplaces and so on, where we today provide our monetisation technology. Tipser was founded in 2012 in Stockholm and by 2015 we launched our first product. Since the monetisation of digital media through ecommerce is an entirely new concept, one of our biggest challenges is to make media companies aware of what alternatives they have to classical revenue strategies, like advertising or affiliates solutions. Furthermore, one of our most important missions is to help publishers with diversifying their revenue strategies. In our opinion, this is the key to profitability and independence.
What makes Tipser unique from your rivals?
We move the buy button to where the audience is, rather than the audience to the buy button. This might sound trivial but it’s technically complex to achieve in a smooth manner. This offering turns the affiliate logic upside down and has proven to generate 2-20x better conversions since our logic provides minimal friction between inspiration to purchase. Furthermore, the media gets to keep all traffic and consumer data while enjoying uncomparably high commissions on all sales. With our technology, it is possible to embed ecommerce directly into every form of digital content on any digital surface. The shopping experience becomes native to the readers. Readers who become customers of their favourite media channels remain always on the media platform itself since our software does not require and work with outbound links. Additionally, our clients don’t need to have their own inventory, neither deal with shipment or payment processing. Tipser is a full service-technology solution.
And can give you some examples of who you are working with and what the results have been?
In Germany, we are working with big renowned publications like Elle, Cosmopolitan, and Instyle. On the one hand, they use our technology to offer their readers something we call content-commerce. This is editorial articles about trends, products, and recommendations in which their readers can directly purchase content related products. On the other hand, they run full shopping sections on their online publications. Here, their readers get inspired and find new interesting offers matching their needs and interests. We also work with big daily nationwide newspapers, such as Dagen Nyheter, Aftonbladet and Sydsvenskan in Sweden. They utilise our technology for reader loyalty programs. Apart from shopping on their online publications, they offer their subscriber base exclusive offers. In that way, they use their monetisation to create engagement and reader retention. But in all cases, our concept helps publishers to be in control of their monetisation, keeping the audience and consumer data on-site, fostering the relationship between their media brand and their readers.
How do you think publishers’ ecommerce strategies have been influenced by Covid19? Has it become a bigger opportunity for them?
In the last couple of months, we have seen a big change. Trends like the decline of the advertising market and negative long-term effects of affiliates have been there before. But this global health crisis has sharply accelerated these trends. The ad sales market, where the travel industry is a big contributor, was partly shut down overnight. It is an ironic trend considering that traffic boomed at the same time. Publishers had to find new ways to earn money, in a very short time. Monetisation through ecommerce then comes as a convenient opportunity to build a profitable, but also crisis-resilient revenue model. We believe that these are the reasons why we see a widely increased demand for our technology and services.
You recently expanded to the US market? How has that gone so far and what do you think are the key challenges for you?
The expansion to the North American market is a natural step for Tipser, as we have a growing demand from overseas clients. Personally, the US expansion has also been a dream since we founded the company, so this is a major milestone for us. One of the biggest challenges in this process is to get the word out in a highly noisy market, but we’ve seen that happy client referrals have really helped accelerate new client onboarding in each market that we’ve opened so far. We also know that having the best possible local team is essential and for that reason, we are happy to have Mike Sampson, our new Sales Director leading this sales division.
Longer-term do you believe that social platforms like Instagram will become less or more important to publishers from an ecommerce perspective?
Social media platforms will definitely play an important role for publishers in the long term. Recent years have shown that one of the main characteristics of digital media trends is hybridity. Social media channels merge the content of classical publishers in their news feeds and almost every publisher shows nowadays some form of social media presence. The successful publisher of tomorrow understands to become a destination for their readers and fulfills their needs on several levels, apart from the sole content offering. For instance through inspiration, connectivity, community, and commercial offerings. On the other side, the same goes for social media.
One of the latest phenomena in this field is the concept of social commerce. Social channels are not only a hub for content sharing but also, become consumption channels. Users get inspired and discover products and purchase these directly on the social platform or app. Actors on social media then become commercial curators and destinations of transactions at the same time. This is probably one of the most formative changes the digital landscape will undergo in near future, and publishers should grasp this opportunity to expand their ecommerce offering also in the multitude of their own social media channels. If they do not grasp that opportunity early on, that space will be filled by other companies, and instead, become a limitation for publishers. As social media platforms become marketplaces, publishers need to find their place in this ecosystem.
What’s next for Tipser?
The next big upcoming chapter for Tipser is to enable publishers and brands to transact inside platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Google. Tipser is one of the very first tech providers working with Facebook and Google in this area, introducing and implementing the new concept of social commerce. We are proud to directly impact the development and evolution of ecommerce experiences for millions of people.