December 13, 2011, 12:18 PM

Personalization firm RichRelevance buys Searchandise, which sells site search ads

The move will increase RichRelevance’s web site advertising offerings.

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RichRelevance, a provider of online personalization and advertising systems for e-commerce sites, has bought online ad technology firm Searchandise, whose technology enables online retailers to sell sponsored ads in their site search results. RichRelevance did not say how much it paid for Searchandise.

RichRelevance says it will use Searchandise’s technology to help online retailers target online consumers who start their shopping with product research on retail sites. In announcing the acquisition today, RichRelevance cited figures from Forrester Research Inc. showing that consumers rely on retail sites 25% more than they rely on Internet search engines to research products.

The combined company has a client base that includes 10 of the 25 largest online retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Sears Holdings Corp. and Target Corp., RichRelevance says. Wal-Mart is No. 6 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, Sears No. 7, and Target No. 22.

RichRelevance now will offer three ways for retailers to sell sponsored advertising space on their web sites: banner ads that target the interests of shoppers based on their past shopping behavior; sponsorships of groups of personalized product recommendations shown to online shoppers; and the site search ads.

For the sponsorships of groups of product recommendations, advertisers can filter out recommendations of competitive products, RichRelevance says. But few advertisers do so because they realize it limits the shopping experience for shoppers, says Diane Kegley, chief marketing officer of RichRelevance.

The site search ads work under a keyword bidding system. All sponsored results are highlighted to differentiate them from unsponsored results. Retailers can control where they want ads to appear in relation to unsponsored results—a choice that may depend on which products a retailer is trying to promote or which inventory it needs to move out of its warehouse, Kegley says.

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