Ziff Davis Moves Beyond Content

Ziff Davis’ new owner aims to move the venerable tech brand from content company to a platform for content, data and commerce. Two announcements today could help it get off its advertising addiction.

Ziff Davis has acquired LogicBuy.com and launched BuyerBase, a new ad-targeting service focused on technology products.

Three-year-old LogicBuy.com lets folks search for coupons and deals on products; it also encourages registered users to post ones they’ve discovered. While the Ziff Davis deal emphasizes technology products and services, LogicBuy also has channels for travel, apparel, food and home décor. The company says it had 10 million visitors in 2010.

BuyerBase aims to capitalize on audience data by scoring and analyzing data from not only the ZD sites, but also 100-plus undisclosed partner websites. The platform focuses on product-specific research and shopping activity, as opposed to general browsing behavior, determining which product a consumer may be ready to purchase. The data then is used to target relevant product offers to those consumers as they visit third-party sites displaying BuyerBase ads.

At this point, LogicBuy and BuyerBase have no connection beyond both being part of Ziff Davis’ greater strategy to combine content, data and commerce, according to Bennett Zucker, SVP and general manager of data solutions. Zucker, a veteran of ad exchange Right Media, was hired to launch BuyerBase.

“BuyerBase helps advertisers to connect with and market to buyers. We work with them on any basis that makes sense for the advertiser,” Zucker says. “We’re also doing branding campaigns and everything targeted to a person’s current shopping interests.”

Zucker would not speculate on the potential for future integration of LogicBuy coupons and the BuyerBase network, such as using BuyerBase’s analytics to deliver targeted coupons to ZD visitors and/or to third-party sites displaying BuyerBase ads.

“Today, we expect to earn the bulk of our revenue from ad sales. On the Ziff Davis sites, we’re pretty well sold out at healthy rates. With BuyerBase, our new revenue will be from new advertising sales to existing advertisers,” he said.

ZD properties such as PCMag.com and Geek.com are rich with product comparisons and reviews, but they don’t include ways to immediately purchase products in the reviews. LogicBuy could allow its sites to complete the purchase loop, according to Derek Gordon, partner in Re:Imagine Group, a digital consultancy.

He says, “Publishers are trying to figure out how to let people complete transactions inside their own content. If consumers are at Ziff Davis, let’s hammer out this whole transaction where they’re at. This is another way to get that done.”

At the same time, Gordon believes, integration with LogicBuy better positions Ziff Davis’ sites for changes in consumer behavior and search engine results in the future.

While online coupon aggregators have been around for many years, the viral success of Groupon and Living Social have made this kind of deal-hunting both cool and mainstream.

This mainstreaming effect means that more consumers will head to their search engine of choice to find deals, instead of specific deal sites, Gordon says.

He thinks it’s inevitable that Google and Bing will begin to aggregate coupons and handle transactions using them with the search interface, in the same way that they now do for shopping results. If that happens, Ziff Davis will have still another channel to distribute LogicBuy deals.

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