Allowing Web Users to Transact Through Ads

Adgregate Markets has released a new transactional ad capability, ShopAds, that lets advertisers support secure credit card purchases without dragging buyers away from the publisher sites where the ads run.

Adgregate is calling the ads transactional widgets since the ads can be shared on social network profiles and other pages; however they can appear within any IAB standard display ad unit. CEO Henry Wong argues his firm is the only one that can honestly lay claim to the term ‘transactional’ as applied to an ad.

“There is a lot of confusion in the market today when people talk about widgets and what ‘transactional’ means,” said Wong. “Other companies talk about transactional widgets that display products for you to click on to purchase. But once you click, you are taken off-site to complete the transaction.”

ShopAds are Flash-based. Unlike transactional ad units that are based on JavaScript, they do not need a secure host site to allow safe buying and selling. Indeed, the secure, encrypted shopping carts inside the ad units are portable into any HTML environment, including social networking pages and blogs.

Of course, providing a secure environment for consumers to transact is one thing; convincing them it’s safe is something else. Wong said the company uses several methods to guarantee shoppers their credit card and other data are protected.

“There is an iconic lock symbol on the corner of the ad widget and a pop-up explains that this is a completely secure credit card transaction,” he said. When buyers get to the point of putting in their credit card information, they see the VeriSign symbol. “More sophisticated” users can see the https layer within the widget’s embedded code, noted Wong.

Once a sale is finished, the system confirms it with a “thank you” and e-mails the buyer a tracking number. Wong said buyers are given the option to continue shopping or return to the original widget screen, which can host large catalogs of products. “These e-commerce widgets don’t have to handle just one product,” he stressed. “They can have a million.”

ShopAds has been in testing for several months, including with two book publishers. Hachette Book Group USA has used a ShopAds widget to sell “When You Are Engulfed in Flames,” the latest novel by David Sedaris; Random House meanwhile used the technology to support direct-to-consumer sales of Cory Doctorow’s audiobook, “Little Brother.”

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