Online marketplace ShopClues—which entered the startup unicorn club earlier this year—launched ADZone, its new ad platform for sellers, in Bengaluru on Wednesday. The platform enables sellers to initiate advertising campaigns via a bidding process, for a minimum budget of Rs 1,000. ShopClues Co-founder and CEO Sanjay Sethi, speaking at the launch, said that this is entirely a volunteer initiative for sellers. “We are not enforcing value for adspace. It helps visibility so that the sellers can compete to get more business out of the platform.” He added that 35 percent of their revenue is non-transactional.
AdZone enables sellers to promote products using native and custom ads on ShopClues. The top bidding products will go on page one and on top of the pages, depending on the bid. The ads will be customised according to the customers’ browsing history and usage. The campaign created can be accessed on desktop as well as on the mobile app/site. Since it is a self-service platform, sellers can choose the period and budget.
The bidding system is expected to bring in more transparency, as AdZone dashboard displays the product clicks and sales on each seller’s campaign, and they are charged for the number of clicks on their products. The money is automatically deducted from the seller’s budget. Arun Goel, Vice President, Products, said at the launch: “The platform also has features for real-time tracking of products, their product views, revenue and return of investment for the seller.”
Sanjay said that ShopClues will continue to focus on its USP – targeting customers in Tier II and III cities, and providing them unbranded local products at cheaper rates. This demands wider selection of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), he added.
At a time when sellers and marketplaces are not really getting along, such initiatives can make a difference. These campaigns enable the sellers to not just reach out to a wider audience, but also target them with precision, as online marketplaces play the role of discovery platforms.
Globally, Amazon and Alibaba had crossed over $1 billion in revenue from native advertising. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba generates more than half its sales from ads, according to data by iResearch Consulting Group.
India’s largest marketplace Flipkart, which claims monthly ad sales revenue of $1 million, had launched Product Listing Ads (PLAs) to enable sellers on the platform gain more visibility last year. They followed up with ‘Brand Story Ads'—ads in an interactive story format with images and product guides—on their mobile app in March 2
016. In May, Snapdeal also launched a similar platform, ‘Snapdeal Ads’, which assists sellers to target customers based on browsing history and geographical location. (Snapdeal had launched the first version of their ad platform in November 2015 to provide native advertisements, following the acquisition of programmatic advertising platform ReduceData in September.)
ShopClues had acquired Bengaluru-based mobile-payments startup Momoe last week. Co-founder and CBO Radhika Aggarwal, who was also present at the event, told YourStory: “We are looking out for more acquisitions, mostly in data analytics.” These developments stress that competition among online marketplaces is surely and strongly rising.