David Brussin is CEO of Monetate, a provider of testing, targeting, and personalization services for websites.
AdExchanger.com: What problem is Monetate solving?
DB: Monetate is helping companies realize some of the fundamental promises of eCommerce. For years, companies have been hearing about the great potential of agile, focused, one-to-one marketing on the Internet. Yet achieving that potential has been very difficult, largely due to some very real IT challenges. At Monetate we have developed technology that finally makes it quick and easy for marketers and merchandisers to test, target, and personalize content and features, anywhere on their websites, without consulting the IT department. The result is a personalized and compelling site experience for each visitor that dramatically improves conversion and revenue.
How does it work?
Commercial websites work better, and make more money, when you customize the site experience for visitors based on everything you know about them. Our software-as-a-service solution learns a lot about each new and returning customer on your site and displays targeted content and features based on that information. For example, someone in Seattle visiting your apparel site for the first time via the Google search term "cheap shirts for men" should see different content from a returning New York shopper who has made numerous purchases of high-end women's clothing.
In today’s highly competitive market, online retailers and marketers of all kinds must offer each visitor the best possible site experience, or consumers will go elsewhere. As Forrester analyst Joseph Stanhope said recently: “A great website is no longer optional, therefore optimization is mission critical for cultivating great customer experiences and maximizing marketing ROI.”
Monetate provides everything you need to offer a personalized site experience. Our Shadow CRM feature collects massive amounts of data about your visitors and what they are doing on your site. Our Catalog Intelligence feature learns everything there is to know about what you’re selling, while our SalesMap feature highlights traffic segments ripe for targeting. Monetate's Dashboard makes it very easy to design a test or targeted promotion based on criteria than can be as simple as "new versus returning", or as complex as a promotion based on business rules such as: "Offer free shipping on all orders over $100 for Columbia brand Winter footwear to visitors in locations less than 100 miles from our nearest warehouse if the current temperature is under 30 degrees and it is snowing."
Have you considered layering media buying services on your platform? Offering retargeting perhaps?
Right now we’re focused on delivering the best website testing, targeting, and personalization technology on the market. In the future, we may well explore applying our technology to advertising, for example when there is a need to target ads within a site based on what the visitor has been looking at, either on that visit or on previous visits. That's data we collect for our customers right now, and we are always looking at ways to help customers leverage their Monetate data for greater ROI.
What is the target market for Monetate?
Our technology can be used on any website where there is a conversion event to be monetized. Right now, we are getting a lot of interest from large retailers who face unprecedented competition for sales in a challenging economic environment. As consumers become more and more savvy about price comparison, shopping for deals, and demanding the best possible site experience and customer service, retailers are fighting it out to attract and keep customers. One way for a retailer to rise above the competition is to offer a superior, highly personalized, one-to-one shopping experience for each visitor. Monetate enables them to do this.
Monetate works with many of the world’s top online retailers, including QVC, PETCO, The Sports Authority, ModCloth, Casual Male XL, Urban Outfitters, Sheplers, Free People, L'Occitane, and Tafford Uniforms, to help them increase conversion rates on their websites and maximize website ROI. To give you an example, QVC used Monetate to test and optimize its site to boost online sales on Cyber Monday 2010. They used Monetate to first test and then implement things like event-driven pricing, targeted free shipping, "while supplies last" messaging, and other features. We were not surprised when QVC reported record traffic on Cyber Monday and the best one-day performance in the 14-year history of QVC.com.
Are most publishers ready for this solution? Is integration daunting?
This one-tag integration also puts you ahead on the resources front. There's not need to wait in the IT queue to get started or to run your first tests. Our dynamic content rendering means you don't have to burn up resources from the design department. And when you do start running tests and people see the value of data-driven marketing decisions, a culture of optimization can quickly take root.
Who’s in your competitive set? And how do you differentiate from them?
Our most direct competitor, indeed our only real competitor, is Omniture Test&Target, which is now part of Adobe. However, Monetate has a completely different architecture from that of legacy products like Test&Target, and an approach that is both more agile and less of a burden on internal resources. One company that also has a fresh approach is Optimizely, and other competitors will emerge as marketers begin to more clearly understand the critical importance of conversion rate optimization.
How does pricing work? Any performance pricing?
Unlike most site testing and optimization vendors, we don’t charge by the number of campaigns, the number of tags, server calls, or site visits. We give our customers one price for the entire site implementation, for the year, based on traffic in the previous 12 months. We find that's much simpler for our customers. They can quickly see the ROI and easily calculate how much incremental revenue their Monetate campaigns are generating. In fact, that's something we report in our dashboard.
Is there an application for the brand marketer seeking to raise awareness with Monetate's product line?
Definitely! Monetate was built for marketers and understands brands. Our software tracks all visitor activity that relates to things like brand preference, as well as enables brand-focused tests and promotions. A brand marketer with no IT training can log into Monetate’s simple, browser-based dashboard and easily select the exact site content they want to test, see real time results for each test, and launch targeted site campaigns based on those results. Brand marketers use Monetate to dramatically improve the customer experience on their websites, thereby increasing brand loyalty and the number of repeat customers.
In general, what is the most common misconception publishers have about maximizing yield for their website -whether it's eCommerce or not?
A common mistake we see is spending most of the marketing dollars on getting people to a website – but failing to offer a compelling, personalized, one-to-one shopping experience when they get there. Customers come to the site but leave without making a purchase. Suppose you want to double the revenue from your website. Doubling the conversion rate from your existing traffic is a lot less expensive than pulling in twice as much traffic
How many employees today? Profitable? Any funding needs?
We have over 30 employees right now and are hiring more. We became cash flow positive less than 18 months after we began shipping product. In December of 2010, we closed a $5.1M financing round that included First Round Capital, FLOODGATE Fund, and other institution investors such as Ben Franklin Technology Partners.
A year from now, what milestones would you like the company to have achieved?
Our goals are to continue serving our great customer base, sign up lots of new customers, and grow the company through aggressive hiring and business development. We have some new product features we will be rolling out this quarter that will help power this growth. We will continue to sign up world-class retail brands and a growing percentage of the Internet Retailer Top 500. But I wouldn't be surprised if, by the end of the year, you see us in some other markets.