June 9, 2014, 9:17 AM

Shopzilla creates a new targeted marketing unit

Data coming through BizRate Insights, AisleA and other Shopzilla-owned sites and services will be combined in Shopzilla’s Connexity division so marketers can use it to bid and place highly targeted ads on the web.

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Shopzilla Inc.,  which operates numerous shopping sites and provides marketing services to e-commerce merchants, is moving to glue together the data it collects to improve the effectiveness of online advertising.

That will be the mission of a division the company is launching today called Connexity, which was the name of the media buying platform Shopzilla acquired earlier this year. Falling under the Connexity name now are Bizrate Insights and AisleA. Bizrate Insights, which provides buyer survey services to e-retailers to collect seller ratings and feedback from customers, will now go by the name Insights. AisleA, Shopzilla’s audience targeting division, will now go by the name Audience Solutions. Both will continue to be available as stand-alone services, the company says, along with being part of Connexity’s combined services.

Shopzilla says it collects more than a billion retail data points monthly through its web properties, which include comparison shopping engine Shopzilla.com and shopping aggregation sites Beso.com and Retrevo.com, its marketing services and the survey data collected through Bizrate. It’s that data that online marketers will be able to use to buy and place advertising online through Connexity.

That Shopzilla is using its own data makes it different from many other services, which incorporate inferred data based on the demographics of visitors to content sites, says Sucharita Mulpuru, vice president and principal analyst for e-business at Forrester Research Inc. “For retailers looking to buy, the data that they have is actually pretty valuable, arguably more valuable than other display networks,” she says. “One of the ways anybody brings display alive is through the data about intent or previous purchase behavior.”

“We have invested substantially in data science to build out a complete set of audience segments for advertisers,” says Bill Glass, CEO of Shopzilla. “This capacity, combined with our programmatic media buying platform, enables Connexity to deliver targeted audiences at scale.”

Programmatic advertising and programmatic buying are the industry terms used to refer to how marketers can use technology to analyze data and bid in real-time to improve the effectiveness of web advertising and, in turn, generate better returns on their ad investments. More than half, 54%, of marketers in a survey completed earlier this year by Forrester Research and the Association of National Advertisers trade group said they’d used programmatic advertising. Among those who had not used it, 18.5% intended to try it in the next year. 

The Connexity platform analyzes an advertiser’s potential audience and, using the data, scores the audience members according to how they might perform for the advertiser, and adjusts the bids paid to acquire the ad placement through major ad exchanges, says Paul Martecchini, vice president of marketing at Shopzilla. For example, if a retailer’s target customer is a camera shopper with an annual household income of more than $100,000 who frequently visits photo enthusiast blogs, Connexity will bid more for ads served to customers who fit that profile. It would bid less for a less-qualified customer lead.

“Our platform dynamically identifies which audiences are performing best, and then adjusts bid prices in real time to maximize campaign performance,” Martecchini says, declining to reveal specific pricing for Connexity’s services.

More than half of the e-retailers in Internet Retailer’s 2014 Top 500 Guide advertise their products through Shopzilla’s namesake comparison shopping engine, according to Top500Guide.com. 

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