Ads for the new age: Shopping links in web photos

March 12, 2010 6:41:28 PM PST
Mountain View's Pixazza had its best day ever during and right after last Sunday's Oscars. Its new online advertising platform provides links where consumers can find the gowns and accessories, or similar ones, the movie stars were photographed wearing.

Professor Kirthi Kalyanam at Santa Clara University calls it a breakthrough in online advertising. He is director of the university's Retail Management Institute and a professor of marketing.

"The designers, I think, historically have had trouble monetizing their creations," Kalyanam. "The celebrity wears it. The average consumer cannot afford it, but cannot even figure out where to go to get something that even looks like it."

As people place their mouse over a photo of Oscar winner Sandra Bullock, for example, up will pop information to buy what she is wearing. It's a first-generation approach to converging advertising with content.

"Our service shows not just the exact matches, but garments that look similar and are more affordable, so we try to make these styles accessible to the broadest possible audience," says Pixazza CEO Bob Lisbonne.

Website readers do not have to click on the links, but if they do, it is clear to advertisers that the consumer is truly interested in shopping. It is an effort to target ads related to what you are viewing online.

"People have the option of mousing in and seeing, and it's a discovery process for the user, and then whenever when one of our information cards opens up, it's at their request, and we have their undivided attention," says chief technology officer Jim Everingham.

Pixazza was the first Internet start-up to get funding from Google. The company plans to branch out beyond apparel, adding real estate, sports and travel in the near future.


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