ShopAdvisor has closed a $5 million investment round led by Pittco Capital Partners, with participation from Seavest Capital, Rationalwave Capital Partners, and the Boston-based investors Rob Soni and Bob Davoli. The company, which originally launched as an app to help consumers remember and shop for products later, has moved in a B2B direction in the last year by adding comparison-shopping opportunities for media sites, tablet apps and print publications.
This round brings ShopAdvisor’s total funding to $7 million. ShopAdvisor CEO Scott Cooper told us that the investment will be used to build out the company’s customer base, which currently includes Time Inc. and Hearst titles like Cosmopolitan and the beauty magazine Allure.
“You’re reading Cosmopolitan on your tablet, paging through that magazine, and you come upon an Oscar de la Renta ad for a new fragrance. A button appears to shop, you click on it, and you see more products that hover over the ad. You put them on a list of products to interact with later. It’s the deferred concept; it’s like dog-earring a magazine,” Cooper said.
In recreating the experience of dog-earring a magazine page, ShopAdvisor is aiming to give magazines a point of sale that feels natural to print readers. Consumers can keep track of items they may be interested in purchasing once they’re done reading, and when they give ShopAdvisor their email address, they open themselves up to later marketing.
Magazines can make both advertisements and original content shoppable. The placement of the shopping opportunities, which typically appear as buttons, is up to the editorial team, Cooper said; ShopAdvisor provides the technology and product suggestions from their 16,000 affiliated merchants.
Cosmopolitan has done a particularly good job engaging their readers with comparison shopping by being careful to build a button that works with their aesthetic and positioning it consistently to make it feel comfortable and familiar to readers. Cooper acknowledged that readers won’t interact with ShopAdvisor product suggestions the first time they see it, but instead need a bit of soak time to become comfortable with using it.
Although Cooper declined to comment on click-through rates on ShopAdvisor’s shopping buttons, he did say that tablet use rates have been particularly high.
“The average rate of clicking on a banner ad for a website is well below 1 percent. [With digital magazines] we see click rates 10 times higher than on banner ads.”
Not everyone is a fan of the current state of magazine apps, but as more publications look to digital as a way of boosting and monetizing their readership, they’re going to want services like this that replicate familiar habits of print media consumption. In that light, ShopAdvisor could do very well for itself.