March 20, 2014, 10:47 AM

Apparel marketplace Threadflip works to make mobile shopping more personal

It offers personalized ads and product recommendations based on shopper history, including when consumers are using non-retail apps.

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Personalized mobile ads and product recommendations have paid off for Threadflip, a marketplace where women buy and sell clothes. Since the e-retailer last fall began serving up personalized mobile ads to shoppers based on their browsing histories and other data, Threadflip’s revenue per user has increased by 40%.

“We are a mobile-first company,” says Daniel Pearson, who until January worked as the apparel marketplace’s product manager for growth and optimizations and now does a similar job for Threadflip as a consultant for Bamboo LLC. Its focus on the mobile consumer led Threadflip to to try to better target ads to mobile shoppers, using technology from \URX.

Here is how the URX system works, according to URX CEO John Milinovich:

Threadflip sends URX a feed of the products that the marketplace sells in its app, which the e-retailer refreshes daily. Threadflip also sends URX a stream of the in-app “events” performed by app users—that can include purchases or adding items to shopping carts. URX builds ads around products in the Threadflip feed—for instance, ads for new handbags added to the marketplace—and serves up ads based on the events and consumer data. Ads for new handbags, for example, would go to shoppers whom URX determines are most likely to buy such products. “URX then shows these users ads for a specific bag when they are in other apps on their phones,” Milinovich says.

Such an ad might appear when the shopper is searching her mobile phone for a bus route or playing a game, Pearson says. And they will reflect items browsed or put into carts. Ads ideally arrive within 24 hours of that action, which he refers to as “the golden window” because the shopper is likely to be still thinking about the product.  Clicking on the ad leads the shopper to a specific product page, from which she can complete the purchase.

URX can apply its technology to mobile phones and tablets using Android and Apple’s iOS operating systems,  Milinovich  says. “We are able to attribute purchases that occur on one device to an ad the user saw on another device based on our clients’ internal concept of a user ID,” he says. “For example, if a user sees an ad on their iOS device and then makes a purchase on their tablet, URX can attribute that tablet purchase to the iOS ad based on their logged-in ID.”

Neither Pearson nor Threadflip would share revenue associated with the technology. As for URX, advertisers set monthly ad budgets that are based on the size of their mobile app audience, Milinovich says. Budgets start at around $5,000 and can go upwards of $100,000 for the largest clients. Costs are charged on a cost-per-click basis.

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