February 5, 2004, 12:00 AM

Safeway.com boosts site search cross-sells with contextual ads

When customers search for Rice Krispies on Safeway.com, the results page shows the cereal in several box sizes and product variations, like snack bars, to drive cross-selling. Now Safeway is planning to also run contextual ads to further drive sales.

When customers search for Rice Krispies on Safeway Inc.`s Safeway.com, the results page shows the cereal in several box sizes and product variations, like snack bars, to drive cross-selling. Now Safeway is planning to also run contextual ads to further drive sales. The ads could be placed by the manufacturer of the searched-for product, or by Safeway itself to promote recipes that feature the searched-for product as well as other items, Safeway tells Internet Retailer.

Combined with a redesigned home page that offers more promotions, recipes and new items like gift cards, the cross-selling search function has helped Safway.com increase its basket size to an average of $130 last year, up 18% from $114 in 2002, a spokesman says.

"We are working on adding contextual ads, which should be ready within the next few months," the spokesman says. "They can help us increase basket size by making it easier for the customer to find related products or featuring something new. So mom not only buys the 19-oz. box of Rice Krispies, but the ad reminds her that she’s out of Kellogg’s All-Bran for herself."

The contextual ads are also intended to let suppliers target a defined market segment – for example, households with children that buy kids’ cereal or high-income households that purchase gourmet foods – while being able to track the results of promotions in a controlled web environment, the spokesman says.

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