Some e-commerce sites are so sophisticated that they treat users differently depending on who they are.
For example: A person in the middle of a workday who uses a computer with a Fortune 500 company IP address in a major metropolis to visit a travel site is served completely different options for purchase than an Apple computer user late at night logging on from a Midwestern neighborhood.
The site may assume the first person is less price-conscious with little time and provide a page with simplified flight options, while it pegs the second user as a visual person with more time and puts up a site with more graphics, vacation packages and ads.
Magnify360 Inc., an L.A.-based startup, develops technology that makes this possible. It is black-box software that can track an Internet user's behavior and characteristics, based upon 300 data points on each individual, to client Web sites. It automatically changes site content depending on everything from a user's online shopping pattern and type of computer to the time of day.
The product is sold to e-commerce companies, advertising agencies and lead generation companies.
"If we add up enough data points, we're able to tell who someone is very quickly even before we serve the home page," said Olivier Chaine, chief executive of Magnify360. "If you don't know who the person is how are you going to serve them?"
That is the driving question behind every advertising campaign seeking to snag the right customers in the online marketplace. What Magnify's technology does for e-commerce is a bit more cutting edge. It's like rearranging the layout of a store for every customer who walks through the door.
This kind of technology in e-commerce will help advertisers see better returns on the estimated $24 billion that will be spent on online advertising this year, said Suresh Vittal, analyst at Forrester Research.
Companies such as Magnify are vying for a piece of that advertising budget, which is mostly spent on search marketing and branding. Vittal said typical online advertising, based on search or media, gets people to a site but doesn't necessarily keep them there.
"The minute they come to the Web site, advertisers don't pay attention to them. These technologies are helping fix that," Vittal said.
Magnify's technology is innovative but not revolutionary, he said. There are others who do similar work. The nascent sector comprises about a dozen companies. Magnify's biggest competitors are Chicago's Amadesa; New York's X+1 Inc.; and a Omniture Inc. based in Orem, Utah.
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