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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.

Amazon Q2: Ecom Giant To Invest $100M In Original Video Content

Amazonq2Ecommerce giant Amazon on Thursday reported Q2 revenue of $19.3 billion, up 24% from $15.7 billion last year.

Amazon buckets ad revenues in an "other" category ($1.2 billion for Q2, a YoY 38% increase from $844 million), which includes Amazon Web Services (AWS) and branded credit cards.

One of the biggest focuses for Amazon in the coming months will be the development of original content. The company plans to invest $100 million in original video content in Q3.

"In terms of content, we’ve seen more and more Prime customers streaming free content through our pipeline," said company CFO Tom Szkutak during the earnings call. " We have more and more customers taking free trials … and they are converting to paid digital video and then cross-shopping, [so it’s encouraging positive purchase habits]. The service we have today has improved dramatically over the last 12-24 months."

A number of companies like AOL and Yahoo have paid lip service to monetizing original content. In the case of Amazon, which has been rumored over the past year to be developing its own original series for Amazon Prime Instant Video users, this appears to be a continuing priority.


Forrester And Study: Attribution Still Confounds Retailers

shoporg-forrester-titleimageComplex attribution remains a work in progress for retailers, and most still rely on last-click attribution models, according to Forrester Research and’s State of Retailing Online 2014 study.

The survey found “attribution modeling is very early and very imprecise,” said Sucharita Mulpuru, Forrester analyst and author of the report.

Part of the problem is different definitions of “multichannel” among retailers and marketers: Retailers take it to mean everywhere products are sold from stores, websites and catalogs, while marketers define it as tactics within a campaign such as email, search, and display ads. The result is marketer-focused attribution models that leave a lot to be desired for retailers.

Among the report's other findings: Paid search programs have defended their crown as the top marketing budget line item for online retailers, and mobile marketing innovations are slow to be adopted. Showing retailers are primarily focused on email marketing with mobile and most have no plans to implement beacons in the next 18 months.


Walmart: The New Media Agency

WalmartWMXWalmart’s widely revered as a retail maven, but media buyer? It’s a brand-new capability for the $473-billion company, which on Friday revealed more details about the digital marketing platform it’s developed, the Walmart Exchange (WMX).

Like Amazon, which has turned massive amounts of shopper data into monetization opportunities for brands via Amazon Media Group’s demand-side platform Amazon Advertising Platform (AAP), Walmart is harnessing purchase, loyalty and other unspecified third party data assets to help suppliers spend their media dollars.

“The big difference, in my mind, is that Amazon is primarily focused on monetizing Amazon traffic,” commented Jason Goldberg, VP of commerce strategy for Razorfish. “The advertisers on their platform are often not vendors selling through Amazon, and the attribution of that media is exclusively direct-response clicks.”

Walmart, too, is monetizing audience traffic but seems to be eyeing media, initially, as a means to drive more sales for the retailer. Consider a brand like Tide, which following a brand campaign might wish to measure and track offline sales performance at the SKU level for its High-Efficiency detergent in specific geos.

Although other companies like Datalogix and Dunnhumby specialize in online-to-offline measurement, and other retailers like Tesco and Staples have invested in “innovation labs,” Walmart’s intent to develop media and marketing optimization services essentially makes it a media agency.