Connexity, owner of shopping sites like Shopzilla, PriceGrabber, Bizrate and Retrevo, is building up a private marketplace offering powered by Index Exchange.
The company projects 30% of its display advertising business will come from programmatic connections, compared to two years ago when it sold about 90% of its display inventory directly.
Programmatic will “be the next growth area for us” as a broader array of marketers adopt programmatic buying, said Craig Teich, the company’s EVP of global sales and business development. “A lot of what we saw [initially] through programmatic were retargeters. Today the mix is more diverse.”
But those programmatic buyers wanted the kind of access and priority that comes from private marketplaces.
“We heard from more of our buyers that they wanted access and would pay for first look, which was the trigger for us to bring on a partner to set up a PMP,” Teich said.
After a nine-month search testing partners to run private marketplaces, it settled on Index Exchange three months ago.
Just like direct buys, marketers can set up private marketplaces in certain audience segments, like shoppers of active footwear, or contextually relevant placements, like footwear sections of its shopping sites.
Teich expects Connexity’s private marketplaces to gain traction over the second half of the year, driven by retailer spending to accommodate shopping from back-to-school and the holiday seasons.
Programmatic has diversified Connexity’s advertiser clients. Over 50% of its programmatic customers aren’t in retail, focusing on sectors like telecom, financial, auto and CPG. These buyers want to access consumers in the “lean-forward nature of the shopping environment,” Teich said to explain their interest.
While buyers want first look, Connexity still prioritizes programmatic below its direct buys. This is partially because marketers buying directly pay for share of voice in particular categories. Those requirements that make it less feasible to pursue a programmatic setup like header bidding.
To reach its “audiences in a buying mindset” offsite, Connexity offers audience extension opportunities.
“Marketers who want to maximize coverage against in-market profiles are tapping into our program to extend the reach,” Teich said. During the holiday season, that numbers 10 million to 15 million unique visitors.
Last year –
while the company was known as Shopzilla – it acquired a DSP, Connexity, to execute these off-site buys. And the year before it launched audience buying via its Aisle A service, which created and packaged intent segments for marketers to buy. Before, it only offered contextual placements.
Connexity has more programmatic activity in the wings. In 2016, it hopes to experiment with programmatic direct.
“That will be the year where we do a careful launch of some programmatic direct deals,” Teich said, with its marquee advertisers given first access.