MyBuys CEO Wants To Bring Personalization Across Paid, Owned and Offline Channels

Rita Brogley CEOMyBuys creates “recommended for you” modules on retail sites, but then it goes a step further: It buys display ads based on a user’s behavior or viewed products and sends triggered emails enticing customers to complete abandoned buys.

MyBuys’ expansion into paid media—display advertising—is now its fastest-growing line of business.

While it first got into managed display in 2010 with the purchase of Veruta, a demand-side platform (DSP), MyBuys has now set its sights offline, with the goal of using online ads and email to retarget customers who shopped in brick-and-mortar stores.

Projects like these are just starting to be tested, said CEO Rita Brogley. The former chief customer officer took the reins from founder Bob Cell this May.

Connecting offline and online is one of her main goals at MyBuys, since it will help retailers understand customer lifetime value across channels.

“We find that a lot of e-commerce teams feel like they’re not getting credit, or budget, for driving so many people to the store,” Brogley said. “That’s one of the drivers for this. We will be able to tell them the impact the site is having on store purchases and transactions.”

Brogley updated AdExchanger about her plans as CEO and what’s ahead for retailers as they shift into high gear for the holiday shopping season.

AdExchanger: How are you thinking about budgets for the days leading up to Christmas?

RITA BROGLEY: Budgets increase significantly for the fourth quarter. Sites are locked down, and we have clients [asking us to help] drive as many incremental sales as we can. They’re asking us what kind of campaigns they should be running and what products to promote.

After Halloween, we see a dramatic increase in traffic to retailer sites. We’ll see a big spike as we get to the week of Thanksgiving, and of course during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday is the biggest.

There will be a big drop-off a couple days before Christmas, although these days people are ordering on Christmas Eve and getting it shipped the next day. It’s a fun time of year, and our media business goes through the roof. It varies by retailer, but spends can be 40% to 50% more. For some retailers, 50% of their revenue happens in a 30-45 day period.

Are performance advertising initiatives always on or still campaign-based?

There is more of a shift to the always-on mentality. Because we’re not a pure ad-tech company, and we have annual contracts with retailers for our other products, like websites and email, it’s easier for them to say, “We’ll give you an annual budget for display ads as well.”

Although it’s technically always-on, they’ll say how to split up the money. They’ll say: “In this three-month period, we want to focus on reactivation for outdoor furniture,” for example. You might have a separate [insertion order] that addresses it.

How do you deal with the challenges of scaling up campaigns when a retailer has limited retargeting impressions?

You’re completely dependent on the number of visitors on a site to retarget. If a site has maybe $10 million in online sales and only 5,000 visitors a month, your ability to drive revenue is limited by the number of visitors. It’s certainly possible you could drive 20,000 or 50,000 impressions, but where are you going to find those users?

To get that volume up, you’d have to find new customers. Or, with us, we can go as far back as 18 months with transaction history and do reactivation. We’ll find those customers, but doing so is more expensive. We have to spend more money to find them, and serve them some great ad impressions to go back to the site. That’s where the cost goes up for the vendor. 

How are you tackling identification of consumers across devices?

I read about a lot companies saying they do cross-device connectivity, but it’s really hard to do. What we do is actually match an anonymous user to a device. If someone clears their cookies, we can still repopulate that data to their profile, so we can identify a customer cross-device as long as they’re using the mobile web.

The last mile is the mobile app. Our engineering team is trying to figure it out. There’s probably a way to use email addresses, strip out the consumer-specific information, generic ideas, match what they’re doing in-app with the rest of the profile. We’re going down that path.

Would you consider partnering with a company that says they can do that, like Facebook’s Atlas? 

We are not currently part of the Facebook Exchange. We don’t want to go through a third party. Almost every company that talks about being on Facebook is going through one of the other main companies that’s on the exchange. Facebook started with a dozen companies, and right now they’re keeping it at that. We can’t add value with a setup like that. That may change, or they may open it up in the future. We don’t know.

Is that why MyBuys has its own DSP?

Our ads are really based on the first-party data retailers are giving us, and that data has to be kept really secure. We aren’t doing a setup where we get third-party data from BlueKai and use Turn to act on it.

Having our own DSP, which we bought in 2010, definitely gave us a jump start. From the perspective of the business itself, it’s more lucrative if you’re providing your own technology. If you’re working with Turn and have the ad networks, it’s difficult to build a business like that from a margins perspective.

With the shift among retailers toward multitouch attribution, how does that affect your payout?

It’s generally helpful to us. The company will be very open about what’s important, and explain why it’s X percent of last click, and Y percent for two views, and why this company believes these influences led to the purchases.

What’s an example of how MyBuys might reach a consumer through different channels? 

If I go to the MLB site, and click around, nothing may happen next. But maybe I go back to the site the next day, and from MyBuys’ perspective, we’re starting to see some intent, some interest, so we serve some ad impressions to me, Rita. We’re picking up from where my site activity left off.

On email, MLB.com gives us an opt-in list, and if there are people on the list that are in-market and need an incentive, we’ll send them an email. It’s only if a consumer triggered an event, like abandoned an item, or a handbag they like is on sale. There has to be a real reason for us to communicate with that individual.

Each product works great, but bringing them together is what’s great.

We’re thinking more about cross-channel campaign coordination. MyBuys is in all these channels: on-site, emails, display ads. Coordinating campaigns is a challenging thing to do. There’s no company today that can do that, but we think that’s very important.

 

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