David "Selly" Selinger is CEO of RichRelevance, an e-Commerce personalization technology company.
AdExchanger.com: Why do you call RichRelevance "the intersection of e-Commerce and Madison Avenue"?
DS: Large retail sites represent the last frontier for ultra-premium ad inventory that brand advertisers have historically not had access to. RichRelevance is empowering our enterprise-class retailer customers including Target and Overstock.com to create incremental streams of revenue by providing premium advertisers access to engaged consumers on shopping media (relevant retail sites) closest to the point of purchase.
What problem is RichRelevance solving?
Brand advertisers use RichRelevance’s ad solution to engage consumers at the point of highest purchase intent on relevant retail sites. They can now tell their story where it matters most, at the point of brand consideration.
RichRelevance also solves the challenge of harnessing and mining consumer insights on a large scale. Retailers use our SaaS solution to personalize the shopping experience across multiple touchpoints, and drive increases in revenue. We make this same level of analytics and targeting available to the brands. Our system is powered by incredibly powerful metrics on brand awareness and engagement that provide a unique view into how consumers are interacting with brands and their products.
This type of analysis and thinking about the funnel is how brands like Procter & Gamble think about the world. In fact, they even have a term for it “Store-back.” They start their thinking about marketing and branding with the question “what is the consumer experience at the store, and how can we positively influence this?” By owning and personalizing the online shopping experience, we’re at the store online, and only a baby-step away from the offline experience.
What is the company's target market?
In addition to our retail clients (including Walmart, Sears, and Overstock.com), we primarily work directly with major consumer brands (Kellogg’s, Colgate-Palmolive, Mattel, Sony, etc.) and on a select basis with non-endemic brands that complement the customer experience (i.e., automotive, financial).
Do you sell to the client, agency, both? Why?
We work with both. Because of the uniqueness of our model, we also work closely with our retail clients to build the right sales structure—complementing existing manufacturer relationships. Further, we are expanding our marketing and sales footprint to encompass those responsible for Shopper Marketing activities at the brand level. These individuals are looking to bridge the disconnect between online marketing and in-store campaigns and Shopping Media is a natural medium for bringing greater relevance for Shopper Marketing campaigns online.
Are you using first or third party data with your custom creative or recommendations? How do you see this evolving?
While we DO understand the opportunity with third party data, most retailers prefer to take the safest route as it pertains to protecting their customers' information. Therefore, we only use first-party data at this time. We are fortunate to have the world’s strongest online shopping behavior database—tracking not only previous purchases, but pairwise brand selection through our product recommendations (For example, did this shopper click on the Sony or the Samsung TV when they are both in the product recommendation?).
We respect the privacy issues faced by the market today. In fact our General Counsel is a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP).
Have you given any thought to getting into the retargeting business?
We actually already provide personalized retargeting to some of our retail clients. This is in line with our mission to personalize the consumer experience across multiple touch points in the life cycle—whether on site, via email, or off-site through retargeted ads.
When you look at a company like Amazon, what would you say is the most important takeaway for a company like RichRelevance?
More than any other retailer, Amazon has successfully monetized their site through the introduction of brand advertising without compromising the shopping experience. I was fortunate to have led the innovation that is the foundation of that effort 10 years ago. While at Amazon, I also learned that the difference between personalized and not personalized content (be it ads or product recommendations) is the fundamental difference between a sustainable and growing business and one which lives in the last century. This is the centerpiece of Amazon’s brand and consumer experience.
We strive to bring this same incredibly high bar of a truly personalized experience to our retailers both in their product recommendations as well as in their monetization programs—and through this same mantra to all of our brand customers. In fact, we’ve run tests that show about a 2x bump in ad sales as a function of personalizing—and a 20x bump in ad effectiveness!!
How do you price your products? CPM, on a project basis?
We work with the retailers to determine the appropriate range of CPMs and sponsorships for their programs.
What are the success metrics with which clients gauge RichRelevance's performance?
Engagement rates and the ability to improve brand-preference metrics (increases in product searches, improved add-to-cart rates, increases in brand CTRs) are a few yardsticks by which clients are measuring performance. Our advertisers are seeing engagement rates with ad units that far exceed performance from other ad buys. This success is derived from a confluence of key factors: the context of the consumers, our unique creative personalization, and the fact that consumers use product recommendations to navigate during their shopping experiences.
Will you need more funding -any plans here? Projections on profitability?
We have a healthy revenue stream that is allowing us to expand into new markets.
A year from now, what milestones would you like the company to have achieved?
We will be the leader in Shopping Media, offering major consumer brands high levels of engagement on leading online retail sites and the insights to make these programs the centerpiece of their branding initiatives.