April 17, 2012, 2:41 PM

Abt and Crutchfield figure out how to boost the power of display ads

The secret is targeting consumers who’ve visited certain web sites.

Lead Photo

Only about one in a thousand online display ads leads a consumer to click, but consumer electronics retailers Abt Electronics and Crutchfield say they’re boosting display ad click-throughs and conversion rates via “retargeted” marketing that’s triggered by consumers’ visits to manufacturers’ web sites.

“We are seeing display ad conversions up to four times what we see from other display campaigns,” says Steve Tazic, director of e-commerce at Abt Electronics, No. 151 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

Abt and Crutchfield (No. 120), are running display ad campaigns through OwnerIQ, which places ads through a network of web sites. For instance, ads might appear on a news sites after a consumer visits the site of a consumer electronics product manufacturer such as Kicker Audio, whose products are sold online by Abt and Crutchfield.

OwnerIQ provides a tracking script on the manufacturer’s site and places a software cookie in a visiting consumer’s browser. After a consumer leaves the manufacturer’s site and lands on a site within the OwnerIQ network, he may see a display ad showing the logo of the manufacturer and retailer, along with a generic marketing message. A consumer will not see messages or images related to specific products he viewed on the manufacturer’s site, in order to avoid the sense that the ads are too personal.

 “The goal is to target self-selected, in-market shoppers who had viewed and researched products on our manufacturers’ web sites,” Tazic says. “These people are true in-market shoppers that may never have visited the Abt.com site or been able to be identified and reached by us previously.”

Crutchfield has also experienced click-through and conversion rates on ads in the OwnerIQ network that are higher than the average performance for more conventional display ad networks, says Jay McCartney, the retailer’s senior manager of Internet marketing. Although Crutchfield and Abt are competitors, Tazic and McCartney say they have not run into problems with competing ad space.

Todd Cabell, director of e-commerce at Crutchfield, will speak at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2012 in a session titled, “Time for a Mobile Redesign.”

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