Archive for November 2, 2013

Infographic Alert: Multichannel Marketing Can Be Puzzling

November 2, 2013 Leave a comment


November 1, 2013 –

by Elyse Dupre and James Jarnot

Creating optimal customer experiences is a top priority for many retailers. In fact, 65% of retail executives polled say providing the best customer experience possible is the most important factor when obtaining approval for sales and marketing technology investments, according to the “Breaking Through Customer Engagement Barriers with Innovative Marketing and Technologies” report by Infogroup Targeting Solutions and Retail Touchpoints. And the best customer experiences are those that are relevant—powered by multichannel customer data and messaging.

However, piecing this multichannel data together can leave marketers feeling puzzled. According to the report, 47% of retail executives rank “using their existing customer data effectively,” as their greatest marketing challenge, followed by “integrating social and mobile data” (18%), “using analytics” (11%), and “integrating new data” (8%).

When it comes to completing the overall picture of the customer, a majority of marketers (58%) agree that transactional and purchase history information are the most valuable types of data, the report notes. Following far behind in importance are behavioral and attitudinal data (14%) and demographic data (14%). Just 5% of respondents say social media data is the most valuable, and only 2% list Web browsing history data as important, according to the report. This lack of emphasis on key areas of customer data may leave puzzling gaps in insight.

Real-time data also proves to be a brain twister. The report cites that less than a quarter of respondents (23%) use real-time data to generate customer offers frequently and less than one third (30%) admit to doing so infrequently. In fact, 11% say they don’t use real-time data to produce customer offers at all. However, 36% say they would like to do so in the future.

But piecing together multichannel data isn’t the only thing retailers are stumped on. They also struggle with multichannel messaging. According to the report, only 37% of retail executives provide consistent marketing messages across all channels. Of the remaining 63%, 50% say they synchronize their messaging across some channels, but not all, and 13% say they treat each channel separately.


Elyse Dupre is a reporter at Direct Marketing News and covers ever-evolving trends in the marketing world.James Jarnot is the Art Director at Direct Marketing News.

Screen USA Hosts Media Day to Showcase Digital Printing Advances

November 2, 2013 Leave a comment


By Cary Sherburne
Published: November 1, 2013

As recently reported by Screen USA and my WhatTheyThink colleague Pat Henry, Screen USA gathered together about 30 of the industry’s leading press and analyst professionals for a briefing on its digital printing technology advances with an updated corporate overview.  Also featured was guest speaker Ron Gilboa from InfoTrends who shared insight into industry trends, especially as it relates to inkjet printing. Also available for our inspection were three new products and an update on the company’s Equios workflow solution.

Mike Fox, President of Screen USA, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dainippon Screen of Japan, spent a few minutes reminding attendees about some of Screen’s history of innovation. The company got into CTP in 1995 with the debut of the PlateRite product line, which continues to be important to the company and industry but is now primarily sold through OEM channels.  It introduced the Truepress 544 digital offset press in 1998 (which it still sells) as the beginning of the Truepress line. In the 1990s, Screen also brought to market the first browser-based workflow product, Trueflownet, which has evolved into today’s Equios offering.

Its first inkjet press, the Truepress Jet 520, was introduced in 2006, at a time when there was really only one other competitor in the market (Kodak Versamark). Its continuous-feed full color production inkjet press is also sold by Ricoh (formerly Infoprint Solutions, a joint venture between IBM and Ricoh) under the Infoprint brand.

Screen is determined not to stand still or rest on its laurels.  The company proudly unveiled three impressive new products to the group: The Truepress Jet L350UV, the Truepress Jet W3200 and the Truepress Jet SX. I won’t go into detail about the products here, since Patrick Henry did an excellent job of that in his earlier article. Rather, I wanted to use this opportunity to highlight an industry trend I find quite interesting.

In addition to the Screen briefing, I have recently attended two other briefings presented by Japanese companies: Komori and Canon. All three companies have shown what seems to me to be a renewed energy level and an increased focus on innovation. Screen’s tagline is a good example: Fit Your Needs. Fit Your Future.

During the session, Fox not only highlighted past innovation at Screen, but also spent a great deal of time talking about the future.  For example, Screen’s Equios workflow will be using the new Adobe APPE3 core and supporting the PDF/VT standard for variable and transactional printing which has an emphasis on job portability. Fox said, “Equios is a single workflow that will drive all of our devices, including flexo. We have been an Adobe partner for many years, and worked closely with Adobe on PDF/VT. We also believe that production inkjet will continue to improve in quality and will challenge offset.”  Screen is clearly positioning itself to meet that challenge with an array of inkjet offerings, which we can only expect to expand in the future.

Inkjet also plays a key role in the transformation of both Canon and Komori. But more importantly, all three companies seem to be undergoing an interesting cultural transformation that is necessary for them to succeed in a future that is increasingly digital and dynamic. This requires faster decision making, more autonomy at the local level, and deeper engagement with all stakeholders.  We saw this at Canon’s new facility, both in terms of the way it is structured and the solutions in its demo room, including its Mixed Reality solutions. In Komori’s case, its aggressive move into inkjet in partnership with both Konica Minolta and Landa is a sign of its transformation. And at Screen, we saw a renewed energy and excitement about its current portfolio and its prospects for the future.

Many times, the legacy companies in our industry—and in others—are saddled by bureaucracy which can seem almost insurmountable in terms of facilitating change. That’s one of the reasons why upstarts such as Amazon and Google were able to drive such dramatic change … they had no bureaucracy to overcome. That’s exciting.  But to me, it is even more exciting to see more mature companies reinventing themselves right in front of us.  We saw indications of that at the Screen media briefing, as well as at Canon and Komori.

Personally, I am looking forward to next year’s Screen event.  Will they truly live up to the challenge that they have set for themselves and that the market is demanding?  I think so … but we’ll have to wait and see!

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Google Gains Retail Velocity

November 2, 2013 Leave a comment

ad exchanger

November 1st, 2013


GoogleArtGoogle’s product listing ads (PLAs) have positioned it for a strong holiday season, possibly at the expense of Amazon.

Based on data compiled in the third quarter, search and digital marketing agency RKG found that among 500 online retail clients, Google search spending increased 18% year over year. In Q3 alone, Google PLAs drove 35% of nonbrand search clicks.

Similarly, Mercent has seen a marked uptick in adoption and ROI on media spend for these ad units. Mercent syndicates ads, product detail pages, real-time pricing and inventory data for 550 retail brands across Google, Amazon, eBay, Pinterest and major retargeters ranging from TellApart to MediaForge.

A bit of history: In June 2012, Google shifted its free product listings to a pay-for-performance model. Product listing ads, defined by Google as search ads that include richer product information like images, price and merchant, are charged on a cost-per-click or conversion-based CPA percentage basis.

“Pre-June 2012, Google was pretty volatile, but tended to average out at around a 35-40% year-over-year growth range,” said Eric Best, CEO of Mercent. “Not surprisingly, we saw a severe drop-off in gross merchandise value coming from Google after they switched to the paid model.”

Companies began to aggressively test “large, material PLA budgets” beginning in September and October of last year, according to Best.

“We saw year-over-year growth for Google Shopping [the PLA program is a part of it] measured against the volume we’d seen from the free Google product search program the year prior recover to that 30-40% growth range,” he said.

A Surge For Google Shopping

After a moderate 20% growth rate in Q1 2013, Google Shopping has “exploded” in the last six months. Mercent has managed PLAs alongside paid search; they’ve been a higher performer than AdWords on a dollar-for-dollar basis for retail advertisers, Best said.

“In April, May and June, we were running in the 50% year-over-year growth range,” Best said. Then in July, revenue from PLAs jumped again. “Across all of our sellers who were active on Google product search in July through September 2012, Google is now generating twice as much revenue for those retailers this year, in spite of the shift to the paid program.”

The Mercent data suggests consumer momentum for Google Shopping. When measuring client results (who were active on both Amazon and Google Shopping), the average order value on Google Shopping was $115 as opposed to Amazon’s $57.

These findings are reflected in Google’s overall budget impact. In a report drafted by Jefferies’ analysts Brian Pitz and Brian Fitzgerald, Google PLAs saw a 54.7% quarterly increase in adoption last quarter among 10,000 US advertisers.

On Google’s Q3 earnings call, the company outlined plans to provide a “seamless purchasing experience,” including helping traditional retail merchants utilize their payment solutions, such as Google Wallet for mobile.

Google In-Store?

Here’s where it gets really interesting: Google three weeks ago launched local product listing ads to a select number of beta merchants, which through integrations with local store inventory allows advertisers to surface mobile-specific ads with “real-time product availability, pricing and promotions at the store level,” Best noted. “It’s clear they are betting on this in-store shopping use case in terms of where they’re focusing their innovation in the ad products they provide.”

Brick-and-mortar stores increasingly look to digital influence as an indicator of in-store performance, according to Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates Inc., a national retail consulting and investment-banking firm based in New York. “It’s a critical thing,” he said, calling out the influence of online research on in-store purchases.  Target and Staples, too, have ramped up their digitally influenced purchase strategy by letting consumers pick up in store this holiday season when shopping online.

Electronics brand Lenovo, according to Mobile Commerce Daily, reportedly tapped Google Maps and local retail merchants to offer discounts through display ads to consumers making mobile search queries. Those discounts were carried through to Lenovo’s own site or nearby stores where they could make a purchase of inventory that was in stock locally.

“Google believes that the first, easiest dollar to make is by converting offline advertising to digital advertising in scenarios where the shopper is still in a physical store,” Best said. “There’s plenty of leg room there if Google can take a small portion of that $2 trillion in digitally influenced offline shopping. I’ll caveat that with one thing: The one thing Google cannot afford to do online is lose search dominance in online retail.”

Forrester Research came out with a report last July that found some 30% of online shoppers begin their research process on Amazon, to Google’s 13%. Google seems to have stepped up its commerce play, since, launching Google Express delivery in select markets this fall.

As Forrester analyst JP Gownder outlined in a blog post this fall, Google is not content sitting on the sidelines in commerce – be it brick-and-mortar retail, delivery or the dominion of ecommerce where Amazon has long reigned.

“Who knows more about you than Google?” he writes. “Google can ride a variety of waves to mine your personal information to (literally) point you to the right areas of its stores. Using location-based technologies, it can create in-store experiences that consumers have never seen before. Google can change the large screen displays you walk by in store – a la Minority Report – to personalize your visit.”

“Amazon, I think, is really betting on ecommerce growth at the expense of brick-and-mortar purchases,” Best noted. “The two companies are pursuing different strategies. It’s understandable why Google is investing so heavily in shopping – to maintain dominance in that retail search market position is critical to their ongoing success and growth.”

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Polyvore: Connecting Commerce To The Sphere Of Social Data

November 2, 2013 Leave a comment

August 30th, 2013 

 ArnieFounded six years ago by three former Yahoo engineers, social commerce community portal Polyvore has amassed 80 million product boards or “sets” since inception. To date, the company has raised more than $22 million in funding from Benchmark Capital and others, and now feeds 7.5 billion product impressions per month to brand and retail clients that have ranged from Bergdorf Goodman to Nordstrom.

What do they get from the site’s foot traffic? Front-row access to which products are resonating in real time through promoted collections, brand contests and content audits and keyword analysis courtesy of Polyvore.

Polyvore’s most direct competitor is probably Pinterest, but going forward it will also compete with heavyweights like Amazon, which has just begun to introduce crowd-curated “collections” that could turn user-generated data into revenue opportunities.

Arnie Gullov-Singh, former CEO of and EVP of product, technology and operations for Fox Interactive Media, joined as chief revenue officer in January. He spoke with AdExchanger.

AdExchanger: In short, what is Polyvore?

ARNIE GULLOV-SINGH: Polyvore is the new way to discover and shop for the things you love. We have about 20 million people who come to Polyvore a month and they mix and match products they’ve clicked from around the web into “sets” to express the latest trend they see happening. Then they share these sets on Polyvore with their friends and beyond Polyvore in places like Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter.

What that does is bring in an audience of shoppers who are looking to discover the latest trends. Polyvore is designed to take those consumers through the funnel and all the way to purchase. It turns in to a series of feedback loops, where people create something and get public feedback that they have great taste and so they create more content. Shoppers end up discovering products they wouldn’t have elsewhere.

How do you make money? There is probably a ton of data coming out of all that user-generated content.

Our customers are brands and retailers in the fashion space. We connect them with influential customers and drive them sales. To accomplish those objectives, we have a set of native ad products that happens to be the content being created on the site. We let marketers influence what content’s being created and let them tell a brand story and that lets them connect with a bunch of customers. We drive more sales through our shopping program, and we just rolled out a new CPC option which lets brands and retailers drive more targeted traffic to their product pages.

Pinterest is flirting with a business model for brands and Amazon’s put out a Collections product that visualizes products, much like Pinterest. How would you say you’re different? Do you facilitate purchases on Polyvore or do you redirect?

We drive targeted traffic to retailers and brands. The checkout happens on the retailer or brand’s ecommerce site… I think, at its core, fashion is an impulse purchase category and impulse purchases are a very visual experience – be it online or offline. You might walk past a store on the High Street and see a handbag that you really like. You might open Google and search for the handbag if you didn’t know about it. The same thing happens online and people come to Polyvore because their intent is to discover what’s new and because we provide the tools to do it, we’re able to not only help them discover what’s new, but show them where they can buy it and take them to the point where they can buy it.

You mentioned native ads before. Do you build yourself or get help with that?

Our native ads are all homegrown systems. Our company consists of 72 people and half of the company is in product engineering. The sales organization is fairly small because we try to develop products that are repeatable and that people want to buy every month because it drives them results. When it comes to our native products, it’s really about tapping in to what’s already happening on the site and then using paid promotion to change that or amplify it.

For example, if you’re a luxury brand and we show you data that says that the most popular products for your brand on Polyvore are products about three months old, you’ll want to change [your strategy]… to [drive users to] engage with your latest products. And so we provide paid programs to meet that need. We also provide paid programs to brands to tell a story, so similar to how somebody tells a story on a news site through a piece of editorial, we allow them to build a collage of their products styled in a way that they think is reflective of their brand, and then pay to promote that to our community.

When we think about native advertising, we think about being tightly integrated into the consumer experience. And I think we’re lucky at Polyvore, because our content is all commercial. To have native advertising in that content makes sense.

How many retail partners do you have and do you foresee expanding category content?

Off the top of my head, I think we have about 600 retail partners. The number is changing all the time, but it’s around 600. They’re all in fashion and we’ve seen a lot of growth in fashion with the lower-priced trendy brands, which is the same sort of thing you’ll see in offline. We’ve also seen a lot of growth on the high-end from overseas users from places like Hong Kong, China, Russia and the UK, Canada and Australia . We find that very much mirrors what’s going on in the luxury space overall. When we talk to our retail partners, they see similar trends and it’s why so many luxury companies are expanding to Asia.

How about mobile?

We’re just scratching the surface of how we drive sales and connect to influential consumers. We launched our iOS app at the beginning of this year and it’s done very well. Now, it’s time to think about how to tap into that more to drive sales. Our clients have seen an uptick in mobile purchasing through their own apps and sites, so they’re hungry for partners that can help accelerate that.

Twitter hired a head of commerce to further monetize the platform. Will consumers keep “tuning in” as platforms become more monetized?

We’re seeing a lot of growth in the traffic that we’re sending to retailers and brands.  It’s up 18% just in the last quarter and that’s the metric we care about more than anything else. Bringing together content, commerce and community, I think, is what makes Polyvore special.

What’s on your roadmap?

All of our goals align with making the experience more shoppable. We know that will lead to consumers being happier and our retailers and partners being more successful. Along the axis of shoppability, there are three components there. One is expanding the number of platforms we’re on. We’re already on desktop and iOS today, but there are many other platforms out there we should be on.

The second one is expanding verticals. I think fashion is a great place to start and it’s an evergreen, impulse-shopping category. But there are other categories out there like home interiors, weddings, celebrations and probably others we haven’t thought of yet.

And then, lastly, expanding internationally. We have a strong international footprint today in terms of traffic, but there’s a lot we can do to provide a better experience for shoppers and retailers that shift to those markets. The interesting thing about fashion is you have brands that may have a limited physical, real-world footprint but they ship to hundreds of countries. Upscale and trending fashion – there is a lot of opportunity here.

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