Bazaarvoice Makes Brand Ad Play with ‘Stories’ Product

Bazaarvoice, a provider of tools that allow retailers and e-commerce firms to host on-site customer reviews and ratings, has upped the ante in an appeal to branding-oriented advertisers.

A new product offering, called Bazaarvoice Stories, lets manufacturers, retailers, and e-commerce destinations invite consumers to talk about their experiences with a product.

Cosmetics company Philosophy and David’s Bridal are among about 20 clients that have committed to deploy Stories. Many are among Bazaarvoice’s 225 or so existing clients.

“It’s a great manufacturer play,” said Bazaarvoice CMO Sam Decker. “Think about Subway with the Jared story, which they happened across by accident. There could be a story for a brand that they couldn’t know about, unless they opened up [this channel].”

Philosophy created a Stories campaign for Mother’s Day with its agency dotbox. Through messaging on the Web site, e-mail blasts, and other channels, Philosophy invited consumers to share your mom’s philosophy. E-mail campaigns were sent using Responsys, which Philosophy has used as an ESP for some time.

Dotbox built a Google Map API onto the site to pinpoint where users’ submitted stories were from. Consumers were able to search for stories from a particular location. During the course of the campaign, over 1,000 stories were submitted, and many visitors voted on stories. Thirty-nine percent of all site traffic in May originated on the Stories page; and 33 percent of new visitors to the site spent time on the Stories page.

In terms of conversions, visitors to the Stories page had 81 percent higher page views, 20 percent higher average order value, and 19 percent more items per order.

“We saw a significant spike in traffic that month,” said Sarah Superfon, director of interactive marketing and direct response at Philosophy. “That really supports that when you engage a customer, it gives them more reason to shop, buy, become involved, and understand the brand a little bit better.”

A story filter function allows to users sort through categories of stories, and a widget capability lets people share stories through Facebook, Digg, del.i.cious, and other social networking sites. The platform is also search engine optimized, which brings additional traffic to the site.

While brands and specialized retailers may be the most natural fit, Decker argued e-commerce retailers may also want to deploy Stories. For instance, he said an electronics retailer might implement the product at the category level in the form of “how-to” videos, such as in the video camera, or HDTV sections. While the product can support only text and photos, a retailer can build on additional features as Philosophy did with its maps API.

A white label, hosted product, Stories is priced according to the number of page views per deployment and the specific implementation.

Bazaarvoice’s other products include reviews and ratings, similar to those popularized by Amazon, and questions and answers.

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