HOT COMPANY PROFILE: Personalised and retargeted ads provider myThings

Personalised ads

London-based myThings specialises in ad retargeting, tracking consumers as they browse a website and then showing them personalised ads based on their interactions. Aimed at retailers, the firm claims that its ads can boost click-through rates by more than 11 times compared to standard display ads, a figure that has helped to attract big-name brands including Littlewoods, Carphone Warehouse and Thomas Cook. While marketing VP Shachar Radin-Shomrat admits that the service is more expensive than standard ad providers, she says most advertisers find it “more cost-effective”. Having established itself in a number of European countries, including the UK, France and Germany, the firm is now expanding its focus to look at emerging markets such as India, Russia and Brazil.

¤ What differentiates myThings from other ad providers?
Imagine that you are an online retailer. It’s a well-known fact that about 98% of the traffic will basically leave without converting. What myThings is offering is to engage with those users after they’ve left the retailer’s website with personalised banners that are generated in real time, dynamically, based on the user’s interactions with the retailer’s websites. The content of the banners is highly personalised and based on the entire inventory of the retailer, which obviously has much more impact because it’s more relevant for the user.

myThings also offers a CPA [cost per action]-based model in which the retailer only pays for actual conversion. We take most of the risk upon ourselves in terms of media buys. And while this is part of our business model, it actually has a lot of impact on our entire chain of operation. Our engines are positioned for conversion, we have the entire backend system that supports the CPA model.

But the main differentiator is our segmentation engine, which analyses hundreds of data points around each interaction of a user with a retailer website – duration of browsing, time from last visit, the URL that the user arrives from, key words. We offer this to retailers to leverage that data in their display campaign

¤ What is your business model?
We support CPM [cost per mille], CPC [cost per click] and CPA, because some advertisers still prefer the CPM or CPC model, and we charge retailers a commission. I believe most retailers find us cost-effective because the conversion rates are higher and they only pay for actual sales. The industry CTR [click-through rate] is around 0.07%, with myThings you typically see CTRs of 0.8 or even 1%. And we see CPAs of around 10%, and sometimes even higher. We sell tens of millions of dollars and have recently become profitable.

¤ Who are your main competitors?
Mostly Criteo.

¤ What is the biggest challenge you face?
We are providing a boutique-level service to the top online retailers and we currently face demand from much smaller businesses and we do not always supply that demand. So automation for the longer term.

¤ What is the hottest trend in digital media
Data-driven creative is part of one of the biggest trends. The fact that display is now shifting from being an art to actual science with accountability, with personalised content that is generated based on actual data and is optimised for data relevancy.

Ad retargeting is becoming increasingly popular as it allows brands to use data to target their ads and produce performance-driven campaigns. Advertisers like the format because it increases the effectiveness of their campaigns. Media owners like it because they can charge more for their ad inventory. And users should like it because it delivers personalised ads that are relevant to them.

myThings is just one of the firms to recognise the opportunity that retargeting offers, with the firm pivoting from its previous incarnation as a web service that enabled users to keep track of their online purchases in 2009 after CEO Benny Arbel decided that its algorithms were better suited to deliver targeted advertising. It is a move that appears to be paying off, with Radin-Shomrat claiming that the firm recently became profitable on revenues of tens of millions of dollars. However, she is reticent to disclose how many customers myThings has, saying only that the firm is targeting the top online retailers in Europe.

The main concern around retargeting is privacy. Previous targeting technologies, with Phorm the prime example, have proved controversial and, while consumers want ads more tailored to their interests, they remain wary of being tracked across the web. Radin-Shomrat is quick to highlight that myThings does not collect any “personally identifiable information” such as names, addresses or payment details. The firm also complies with all industry standards, offering users the chance to opt-out on every ad it displays, as well as through a centralised system on the IAB website.

With the display ad market only expected to continue growing in the coming years as more ad dollars head online, myThings finds itself in a prime position. However, the firm will need to ensure it continues expanding its focus, moving beyond retargeting to offer a wider range of performance-based campaigns. A move into new markets is also key as brands increasingly expect global solutions to their ad needs. myThing’s ROI is impressive, but it will need to watch out as firms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter increasingly move into the display space.


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