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DMEXCO: 'Customers Don’t Get Excited About Ad Products, They Get Excited About Experiences'

DanWrightAn emerging theme at the Digital Marketing Exposition & Conference (DMEXCO) in Cologne, Germany – where 30,000 digital marketers are convening – is building for future cross-channel experiences.

Amazon is no stranger to the concept. Although the ecommerce giant has, of late, been reportedly developing an ad platform to rival Google’s, the company maintains a maniacal focus on its shopper experience.

“When you think about all of the different points at which Amazon engages with customers – from sites to devices to delivery – the ways in which we can integrate advertisers across those touch points can take many different forms,” said Dan Wright, director of Amazon Media Group, Europe.

Ad formats that provide a call to action in the form of an actual utility, such as “add to wish list” or “subscribe and save,” perform on average 20-30% better than standard banners on Amazon.

Wright expanded on Amazon Media Group's priorities for marketers globally.

Why Alibaba’s IPO Could Ignite A Commerce Spending Spree

alibabaAs Asia-Pacific commerce powerhouses like Alibaba and Rakuten push West, it’s still unclear how they will grow large US-based audiences. One such method is through acquisition.

Alibaba late last week priced its IPO at $60 to $66 per share and expects to raise $24 billion when the company begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange in the days to come. With a market cap of $155 billion, which was priced slightly lower than previous estimates of around $170 billion, it pits Alibaba just behind Amazon and Facebook in public market valuation.

Although Alibaba has singlehandedly cornered the ecommerce market in mainland China, an earlier investment in US-based subscription ecommerce site ShopRunner demonstrates interest in growing its domestic audiences, or at least to help US-based companies expand their Chinese footprint.

Alibaba faces a host of competitors in this regard, ranging from Rakuten Japan, (reportedly in talks to acquire ecommerce company Ebates for $952 million after spending a similar amount on messaging app Viber) to Amazon, which is doubling down on streaming media with its acquisition of Twitch.

AdExchanger asked Bryan Wang, VP, principal analyst and China country manager at Forrester Research, about Alibaba’s growing digital influence.


Twitter Confirms Its 'Buy' Button Is Real

fb twit buyFacebook and Twitter are keen to build more commerce functionality into the social stream.

Earlier this summer Facebook began working with select commerce brands to support direct transactions on its platform, and Twitter has been expected to produce something similar after sharp-eyed users spotted a semi-functional "buy" button on the site in July. Well, now that other shoe has dropped as Twitter confirmed experiments in letting users transact directly from a tweet.

Initially visible to a small percentage of users and retailers in the United States, the feature will gradually roll out to more people and merchants. The first commerce partners include a few retailers like Home Depot, and musicians like Ryan Adams and Pharrell. (More in the company blog post.) Celebrities may be a natural fit considering how many use Twitter to communicate directly with fans about event tickets, album releases and the like.

Integrating commerce is about more than adding a new user feature, or creating a new sales channel for retailers; it's about gaining access to purchase and intent data, as Chris Copeland, CEO of GroupM Next, told AdExchanger in July when word of Twitter's buy button first leaked.

“Where it gets interesting is when you start to have purchase data and behavior data together,” Copeland said.  “Using historical data, commerce data, credit data as well as your behavior to give you things more relevant to your patterns.”


Catalina Acquires Cellfire To Tie Mobile Offers To In-Store Sales

CatalinaCatalina, a purveyor of consumer purchase insights for CPGs, has acquired digital coupon company and “instant savings” application Cellfire for an undisclosed sum.

Cellfire bridges the gap between digital coupons and store loyalty systems, first launching its service with grocer Kroger in 2008; additional roll-outs with Safeway, CouponLink, ShopRite, Giant Eagle and Stop ‘n Save followed.

Catalina’s motive for the deal was to invest in and expand its mobile and digital audience for CPG marketers, according to Todd Morris, president of Catalina. Cellfire will retain its brand name while operating under the Catalina umbrella.

“Consumers want to engage across channels,” Morris explained. “The acquisition enables our retail brands and partners to engage shoppers anywhere and anytime with the largest pool of CPG offers available.”

The basis of Cellfire’s technology is as such – the Cellfire Digital Offer Network partnered with brands and grocers like P&G and Safeway to develop an end-to-end platform to promote in-store offers which consumers could automatically load to their loyalty savings cards via web or mobile. More than 22,000 stores participate in the network, which to date has delivered more than $500 million worth of discounts to shoppers, Cellfire claimed.


Mercent CEO: The Next Phase Of Commerce Is Amazon Vs. Google

EricBestGoogle and Amazon are going after each other.

Google has ramped up commercial search and fulfillment, and Amazon is building a Google-like ecosystem around ads  a project involving an ad-buying platform to rival AdWords, according to The Wall Street Journal. And of course, both are investing heavily in video content and advertising. What is Amazon's Twitch acquisition if not a bite out of YouTube?

Mercent, as a commerce and analytics partner to both companies, has a front-row seat to the rivalry.

The company's software platform is used by more than 500 unique ecommerce brands. Last year it processed just less than $2 billion in retail on behalf of those retailers, and more than half of that revenue came from Amazon Marketplace and Google Shopping Campaigns.

According to Mercent's CEO Eric Best, during the fourth quarter Amazon volume tends to outpace Google's, but at various points over the course of the year, Google took top position as the No. 1 driver of retail sales volume through the Mercent platform.

Best spoke with AdExchanger about Google and Amazon’s ads face-off.

Nordstrom’s Journey To Connect Instagram Images To Sales ROI

NordDespite having close to a half million Instagram followers, upscale retailer Nordstrom knows that “likes” and “follows” are great for growing community and measuring engagement or affinity, but these actions don’t necessarily translate into hard business metrics. Retailers want to know if that showroom-grade snapshot on social actually sold a tube of lipstick.

“What we’ve primarily done on Instagram is respond to customer questions,” said Bryan Galipeau, director of social media and display at Nordstrom. “Every photo we would post, we would get a number of questions back like, ‘Is that item still available?’ and ‘What does it cost?’”

Because Instagram content essentially lives in its own native environment, “it’s pretty difficult for our customers to make the jump from seeing a picture in the feed and learning more about the item on our site or in our stores,” he added. “The way the platform is set up, there are no links on Instagram and no easy way out to our website.”

Consequently, extracting business value from Instagram is a disjointed process. And, it affected user experience. Consumers had to leave Instagram to search for products on the retail site, thus obscuring Instagram’s attributable value, even though Nordstrom predicted it contributed to ecommerce sales.

Nordstrom began a pilot with Like2Buy, a tool developed by image analytics platform Curalate, enabling users to purchase items directly from their Instagram feeds. When a customer clicks on Nordstrom’s profile link, they are brought to a gallery of shoppable photos from Instagram and can then click-through and purchase directly from Nordstrom.


Under New CEO, Monetate Tackles More Than Site Optimization

LucinaDuncalfeMonetate, a platform primarily known for landing page optimization, has expanded well beyond the A/B test. Appointing long-time board member and entrepreneur Lucinda Duncalfe as CEO on Tuesday, the Philadelphia-based company says it’s tackling a “multi-billion dollar” market opportunity: digital personalization.

While Monetate’s early product strategy around website targeting and optimization drove early growth for the company, Duncalfe said: “We’ve seen this evolution in the industry to the place we feel we’ve been all along, which is the discussion around real one-to-one marketing where marketers think about consumers in a channel-agnostic way.”

Last summer, Monetate was in a very transitional phase. Then CEO David Brussin (now executive chairman) told AdExchanger that while Monetate did not dabble in media, the company was “very active” in channels other than desktop, and that it would commit the same level of optimization to email, display and mobile that it provided for landing pages.

Fast forward to last fall when Monetate made good on those promises and rolled out Monetate Email and Display, cloud apps that allowed marketers to target customer segments based on a number of behavioral triggers. Monetate wrapped these tools into its cloud marketing hub Monetate Acceleration Cloud designed to interface with preexisting data infrastructure and hook into commerce technologies like (SAP) hybris and IBM.


Facebook’s Got A Spiffy New Cross-Device Reporting Tool

FBcross-deviceFacebook wants to be the answer to your cross-device measurement problem and it’s in a pretty good position to do it.

Enter cross-device reporting for ads, courtesy of Facebook. The new measurement solution, unleashed Wednesday, is available within Facebook’s campaign back end and is designed to allow advertisers to track customers as they move across the mobile web and in and out of apps.

“Cross-device reporting enables advertisers to see for the first time which devices a user used when they saw an ad and compare it with the device they were on when the conversion happened,” a Facebook spokesperson told AdExchanger. It’s another metric to help advertisers understand their ad spend ROI.

It works like this: Advertisers — or more likely their developers — drop the Facebook conversion pixel, a piece of tracking code, onto the page they’re looking to have users convert on. Then they create a Facebook ad that gets served in the news feeds of desired audiences. When users click the ad, they’re taken to the page where they can buy, all of which is tracked and reported. That was all possible before.

What's new is the reporting function. Advertisers can now run reports to see which device a person used to see an ad and where they ultimately converted. When used in concert with the Facebook SDK, it's now possible to see cross-device conversions between both app and web.


Shopzilla Pivots From Comparison Shopping To Marketing Services

BillGlassComparison shopping site Shopzilla has a lot of data. About 20 years’ worth, to be exact. Shopzilla’s been around since 1996 and unbeknownst to some, still drives 50 million monthly unique visitors across its owned-and-operated network that includes consumer insights and merchant ratings site Bizrate.

But the company will soon become primarily a marketing services company. Its consumer brands will be secondary. Shopzilla claims that it processes more than one billion retail data points monthly across the path to purchase. Shopzilla harnesses data from myriad sources, ranging from product listing ads across a network of 3,000 publishers, its owned-and-operated sites and 26 million Bizrate surveys a year.

Through its Bizrate business, Shopzilla syndicates ratings and reviews by consumers who have transacted on online retail sites to Google, its search distribution partner. Bizrate essentially helps power retailer rating and merchant reviews; Google's seller ratings are then incorporated into Product Search and AdWords ads.

“We’re going through a transformation where we’ve been a comparison shopping company through our core sites, and soon a majority of the business will come not from that business we’re best known for,” said Bill Glass, Shopzilla CEO. First and foremost, Shopzilla will be a “data and marketing services company” fueled by its tech and publisher network.


The Buy Button Buy-In

fb twit buyWhat’s the hottest new digital toy?

If you’re Facebook and Twitter, it’s the buy button. To recap: Facebook published a blog post explaining its experimentation with a buy button – currently with select small and medium-sized businesses – with which users can purchase goods directly through the Facebook platform.

This announcement followed Twitter’s own dalliance with ecommerce. In July it released – likely by mistake – a semifunctional buy button designed to enable purchases directly from an online retailer called Fancy. It also performed tests with Amazon in which customers could respond to tweets featuring products with #AmazonCart in order to add those products directly to a shopping cart.

This isn’t the first time advertising and ecommerce have come together. Google has its  product listing ads (PLAs), though, as many sources point out, these ads differ in that they feed off search data and the consumers clicking on them are typically looking for the products they advertise.