IQ News: Firm Offers User Data To E-commerce Sites

Angara, an Internet marketing company based in Mountain View, Calif., today opened for business with its first offering, Angara’s E-Commerce Targeting Service, which provides anonymous consumer profiles to e-commerce sites.
When a user visits a site, E-Commerce Targeting Service scans its database for demographic information on that visitor such as age, gender, income and geographic area. Promotions for specific products, special offers and other product information can then be targeted to the user based on these demographics.
When a user visits a site utilizing Angara’s software, “the request [for the page] is intercepted by our service, we see if the user has been to any of our data providers before and, if so, match him or her up with the consumer marketers’ segmentation model,” said Rich Clayton, vice president of marketing at Angara.
Angara’s data providers, which include Naviant of Newtown Square, Pa., initially supply the company with the user demographics. This information is collected when users register at various sites online, such as portal sites or free ISPs, or when they make purchases on the Net.
“The data is stripped of identifiers such as name and Social Security number and sent to us,” Clayton said. When users register, they are not aware that their information will be used to target them when they visit other sites. This is generally the case and is accepted
practice, according to Seamus McAteer, a senior analyst with Jupiter Communications, a New York-based research firm.
If the Angara data providers have information on a visitor, this information is used to determine which promotional material will appear to the user.
“We did a test run on one of our customers’ sites, greatcoffee.com, and doubled its conversion rate,” said Clayton. In one of the tests, 70 percent more visitors living in the Northeast bought coffee when targeted with Vermont-made Northeast Green Mountain coffee.
“What distinguishes us from competitors like Net Perceptions or Personify is that they require a previous history of Net behavior,” said Clayton. “We use the information from our database.” Clayton said Cogit.com, a profiling company based in San Francisco, is “the only pure play” company that does what Angara does.
Hollis Chin, Cogit.com’s vice president of marketing, agreed, adding, “Our advantages are the richness of our data, encompassing 100 million U.S. households and covering over 500 demographic attributes including age, gender, hobbies and type of car, and our ability to send predictors based on what customers buy on a company’s site.” Polk Company of Southfield, Mich., supplies Cogit.com’s data.
Angara worked with McKinsey & Company of New York researching “how to turn visitors into customers,” Clayton said. “McKinsey’s research showed that Web firms are spending an average of $250 per person to acquire new customers. We’re hoping to make it a little less costly.”