Seventeen.com, a Hearst Digital Marketing property, introduced on Aug. 21 a new social commerce initiative with partner mulu. Visitors will now be invited to make content-relevant purchases through a “muluBox” recommendation gadget.
Mulu enables brands to designate affiliate revenue to benefit a charity or cause. In this case, Seventeen.com has selected anti-bullying advocacy group STOMP Out Bullying as its beneficiary. Hearst Digital declined to disclose the percentage STOMP Out Bullying would receive through the program, though Mulu states on its website that affiliate fees range from 5 to 20%.
Depending on the content of the article or slideshow being viewed, the muluBox will contain links both to mentioned and related products. Readers are clearly shown the beneficiary. A mulu transition page between Seventeen.com and the affiliate vendor reminds the shopper that committing to the purchase will have a charitable impact.
Brian Madden, executive director of social media at Hearst Digital Media, says this process has several objectives.
“We see this as serving three purposes: Allowing readers to shop the products they love on our site, creating a social community around the products, and supporting STOMP Out Bullying, which is important to Seventeen readers and the Seventeen brand,” he says.
The relationship was forged quickly—serious discussions with mulu began only last month. Seventeen.com’s editorial staff is exclusively responsible for deploying the muluBox in appropriate stories—no outside agency contributed to the design. Apart from prominent placement on Seventeen.com pages, Hearst Digital will reach out to readers to promote the program through Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Hearst Digital declined to share conversion or revenue targets for the program. Madden categorizes the relationship as a “test,” but says that Hearst Digital will monitor performance and consider rollout to other properties over time.
Mulu reportedly hopes the high-profile rollout will encourage other brands to adopt the turnkey approach to cause-oriented affiliate marketing.
“Mulu is detangling the mess that is affiliate programs to make earning from recommendations simple and accessible for large-scale publishers and bloggers alike,” Amaryllis Fox, mulu CEO, said in a statement. “The key is removing the hassle of applying to different affiliate programs, pasting code snippets, and checking for expired links by allowing publishers to add recommendations from anywhere online with a single click in their bookmark bar, no code, no editing.”