Helping Consumers With Their Online Shopping Research

Media Morph: Webcollage

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NEW YORK ( -- Every week Ad Age Digital's Media Morph looks at how emerging technology is changing the way consumers get their information and media companies and advertisers present their messages. This week: Webcollage.

What it is: Another breed of marketing-content syndicator that puts marketer-owned and -created content, such as videos, images, how-to ideas and tips, on retail sites.

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How it works: When a consumer goes to an online retailer to buy, say, a digital camera, clickable buttons might appear next to Kodak product images: "See product info from Kodak" or "Visit the Kodak showcase."

Who's using it: Kodak, Sony, Palm and Bose are among the more than 500 manufacturers, while CompUSA, Sears, Macy's and Circuit City are some of the 100 online retailers. Jed Alpert, VP-marketing, said many initial clients have been consumer-electronics companies, though WebCollage has recently added toy and sporting-goods clients and is beginning to target consumer-package-goods marketers.

Who pays for it: Manufacturers pay WebCollage to collect and distribute their product information. They either pay a flat annual service fee or set up a pay-per-click system.

Why it works: More than three-fourths of consumers research products online before they buy, and they're twice as likely to do so on a retailer's site as on a manufacturer's site. According to WebCollage research, purchases increase when marketer content is available. In tests where half the audience saw the content and half didn't, Mr. Alpert said, there was a 6% to 15% increase in shopping-cart value among those who had access to the content.

Why it matters: Online video syndication is growing, and for marketers who already own digital marketing materials, the rewards could range from increased brand awareness to sales conversions. A DoubleClick study found "consumers are roughly twice as likely to play ... an online-video ad unit as they are to click through on a standard JPG or GIF ad."
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