EBay Raises Stakes in Mobile and Local Ads With PayPal Media Network

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PayPal, MobileSince its was acquired by eBay just over a year ago, mobile and local ad net Where Ads has been busy integrating with its parent’s sprawling platforms. It’s a big job with a big potential payoff.

In addition to eBay itself, those platforms include PayPal; Milo, which indexes local store inventory; barcode scanning app RedLaser; Bill Me Later; and Shopping.com. Tying it all together is a real chore not only because of the expansive inventory and purchase data involved, but also because eBay has touch points with consumers across display, mobile, and email.  Additional challenges include how to price ads, how to package them, and - not least - how to serve them. With a boasted scale of 74 million mobile users in North America, the trafficking requirements are hefty.

But Where got there. This week it officially changed its name to PayPal Media Network, heralding the arrival of what it characterizes as an ad platform based not on digital transactions, but all transactions. In a blog post this week, CEO Walt Doyle wrote of the company that it’s “tying together data, location, and purchase history to deliver hyper-relevant and, when appropriate, hyperlocal advertising and offers.”

Unique Formats

PMN is offering formats that leverage a range of eBay products. One, called “Personalized Shopper,” uses a local inventory feed from Milo, which indexes goods that are currently in stock at retail locations. For an advertiser like Sears, this capability lets a user scroll through a particular store’s on-shelf products, switch to another nearby store, or transact using PayPal mobile payments.

In another example, PMN can use consumer scans from RedLaser in combination with geo-fences to serve hyperlocal ads on behalf of large retailers. For a company like Best Buy, it can create a geofence – a virtual perimeter – around a store. When a mobile user scans a product such as a high-end receiver, PMN can serve a promotion for a related product on behalf of that store, such as $50 off a Blu-ray DVD player if a person buys the receiver right then. Or it could give more information about the scanned product.

PMN’s access to historic purchase data from eBay, Bill Me Later, and PayPal creates significant opportunities. But how granular can it get? “Anything from electronics categories down to people looking for TVs,” says Dan Gilmartin, VP of Marketing for PayPal Media Network.

What about targeting at the SKU level? “You could always target yourself out of a market” he says.

Even for national advertisers, the addressable audience for hyperlocal campaigns varies greatly according to campaign goals. “We’ve done campaigns targeting smaller areas within 5 cities. We’ve also done [much bigger] campaigns with national brands… It’s all relative to what an advertiser is trying to accomplish.”

Pay Pal Media Network has 15 ad sales staff and offices in Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. It works with roughly 10 DSPs that bid on its inventory, and is looking to bring on “a handful” more.

These sales folks are putting together some intelligent targeted deals, such as one for Halls last year in which the cough drops were advertised in geo-zones containing a CVS on behalf of the pharmacy. Flu index data was layered on to boost targeting in areas where influenza was spiking.

Targeting Across Channels

Since it has access to user information across mobile and online profiles, eBay has the ability to create merged profiles of users’ mobile and online activity. But Gilmartin says it’s cautious about doing so.

“We’re very keen on the privacy side of things, not only in user tracking but in utilizing location,” he said. “We’re pretty cautious when it comes to combining user profiles. Given the depth of data we have in an aggregate and anonymized fashion, we have a unique ability to create a broader targeting profile.”

He said PMN doesn’t need to move quickly on merged online-to-mobile profiles. “We’ve got so much data and a broad spectrum of users where we can create that same level of targeting,” he added.

By Zach Rodgers

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