AOL’s new inStore site brings changes for advertisers.
America Online’s new shopping search site, inStore, has been tailored to give advertisers more control over their promotions. It will also, through a deal with CrossMedia Services, give that firm’s advertisers wider distribution of their online sale circulars.
In launching the new offering, plans for which were first reported by ClickZ News last week, the company made several changes to make the site more attractive to advertisers. First, the inStore product is available both on the AOL service and on the Web at in-store.com, making it accessible to a larger audience. Additionally, the user interface is cleaner and less cluttered than the old Shop@AOL site. And behind the scenes, advertisers can log in to a Web-based interface and make changes in their promotions and their creative.
"We’ve taken what had been a very static model and made it dynamic through that offering," said Bill Bradford, executive director for e-commerce product marketing for AOL Search.
Advertisers choose a particular "panel" on the front page of the site, with more prominent panels commanding greater expenditures. Within their own panels, advertisers get real-time reports on user reaction and can switch out images and copy in response.
"If the cropped pants are not doing well, you can swap the promotion out in real time, much like you do in an offline store," Bradford explains.
The advertisements for each panel rotate, so each advertiser that has chosen that panel gets a chance for exposure.
The pricing model has also metamorphosed to become more like other shopping search engines like Yahoo Shopping, BizRate, NexTag, or Shopping.com.
"By and large, what we’re trying to do is move away from an impressions-based model," said Bradford. "Merchants were telling us more and more that they wanted a performance-based model. Basically, there’s a fee for entry, and, in most cases, a performance deal on top of that. They are very much incented [sic” to provide great content so our users will click on it."
Advertisers can also bid on keyword-based inventory that appears in the so-called Rapport box, an area where can refine their search results. That inventory is priced on a pay-per-click basis, and Google AdWords ads will appear when AOL hasn’t found an advertiser.
Bricks-and-mortar retailers will also get a chance to appear in front of inStore users. AOL, in the next couple of days, plans to add the ability for users to search for items on sale in their neighborhood stores. That functionality comes through a deal with CrossMedia Services. The firm, owned by newspaper companies Gannett, Knight Ridder and Tribune Company, works with retailers to create an online version of their printed sales circulars.
"For a long time, the online and offline marketing spend were really kept separate. We feel that that is not the long term trend," said Bradford. "That bifurcation still is out there, but we’re helping to bring the two of them together in one experience."
On the heels of a fantastic event in New York City, ClickZ Live is taking the fun and learning to Toronto, June 23-25. With over 15 years' experience delivering industry-leading events, ClickZ Live offers an action-packed, educationally-focused agenda covering all aspects of digital marketing. Register today!
Want to learn more? Join us at ClickZ Live San Francisco, Aug 10-12!
Educating marketers for over 15 years, ClickZ Live brings together industry thought leaders from the largest brands and agencies to deliver the most advanced, educational digital marketing agenda. Register today and save $500!
Pamela Parker is a former managing editor of ClickZ News, Features, and Experts. She's been covering interactive advertising and marketing since the boom days of 1999, chronicling the dot-com crash and the subsequent rise of the medium. Before working at ClickZ, Parker was associate editor at @NY, a pioneering Web site and e-mail newsletter covering New York new media start-ups. Parker received a master's degree in journalism, with a concentration in new media, from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce
This Magic Quadrant examines leading digital commerce platforms that enable organizations to build digital commerce sites. These commerce platforms facilitate purchasing transactions over the Web, and support the creation and continuing development of an online relationship with a consumer.
Paid Search in the Mobile Era
Google reports that paid search ads are currently driving 40+ million calls per month. Cost per click is increasing, paid search budgets are growing, and mobile continues to dominate. It's time to revamp old search strategies, reimagine stale best practices, and add new layers data to your analytics.
June 10, 2015
12:00pm ET/9:00am PT