Shopzilla Bulks Up On Programmatic Media-Buying, Plans Multiscreen Products

ConnexityShopzilla, the comparison shopping site started in 1996 during the beginning stages of the ecommerce explosion, acquired on Wednesday programmatic media-buying platform Connexity to ramp up its audience-buying efforts.

Shopzilla will integrate Connexity into its audience-activation division, Aisle A, formed one year ago to facilitate display ad sales and retargeting on as well as its owned-and-operated sites Bizrate, Retrevo and Beso, which in total garner about 40 million monthly unique shoppers.

“We’re sitting on a tremendous amount of information about consumers and what they’re in market for,” said Craig Teich, SVP and GM of Aisle A.

Connexity has invested in multiscreen device bridging for remessaging purposes in the past year, which should allow Aisle A to identify audience segments at the household and individual level across screens.

The acquisition also allows Shopzilla (which is owned by Symphony Technology Group) to diversify its business beyond core search. Aisle A is a step toward increasing this diversity. Connexity’s technology and employees, Shopzilla claims, will help the company better  service agencies and direct advertisers by facilitating finely targeted audience-based buys based on its bevy of shopper intent data.

“Initially, we used a third-party RTB [solution] and other DSPs to pipe in our data,” Teich said, who added that Aisle A worked with an outside DMP initially, “which was a great way to understand the landscape and extract value, but when it came down to moving our business forward, it became [clear we’d have the] biggest impact [when we] combined our big data assets with a programmatic media-buying and optimization platform.”

Aisle A also will invest in new ad formats like video.

“The ability to run against a particular audience segment with video to complement what we’re doing with display … gets to the context for the right messages to the right audiences in the right environments,” Teich said.

Although Teich declined to provide an exact head count, Aisle A has more than 30 employees, a figure that has “more than doubled” in its first year. Connexity co-founder and CEO Dave Gross, according to LinkedIn, now serves as SVP of product at Aisle A. Previously, Gross served as founding CEO of ad network Fastclick, which was sold to ValueClick (now Conversant) for some $214 million in 2005.

For Connexity, the acquisition was in line with the company’s aspirations, Gross said. “We decided we were better suited to be part of a larger play in the marketplace rather than staying independent,” he said.


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