Ziff Davis Shakes Up Publishing Model, Launches Ad Platform, Acquires Coupon Co.

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Digital publishers looking to supplement ad revenue may want to look toward Ziff Davis. The company on Tuesday unveiled the launch of the ad platform BuyerBase and revealed the acquisition of LogicBuy.com, which provides tech deals and coupons.

BuyerBase, an audience-based ad-targeting platform, relies, in part, on a piece of code embedded in more than 100 content and commerce Web sites owned by Ziff Davis and third-party companies. The unidentified "collection of properties" under BuyerBase gets more than 40 million site visitors and generates more than a billion buying signals monthly. The companies agreed to provide Ziff Davis with the data to integrate into the platform.

The platform collects, scores and analyzes data sent by Web site code snippets to BuyerBase. The technology identifies activity related to search queries, product codes and model numbers, and how often site visitors interact with the content. The platform identifies patterns to connect consumers with ads. Some of those actions include viewing product reviews and prices.

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Once the platform collects the information on patterns it pings ad networks, exchanges, portals and publishers across the Internet to bid on ad inventory.

Integrating the technology from the LogicBuy.com acquisition, the platform will serve up deals and coupons on specific technology across Ziff Davis properties such as PCMag.com. It will tap into relationships with tech manufacturers and retailers to bring deals to site visitors.

Ziff Davis CEO Vivek Shah makes no qualms about it. "We want to reinvent the publishing model that connects content, data and commerce," he says "This strategy is a three-leg stool and we just added two that we didn't have."

Shah acquired Ziff Davis with Great Hill Partners in June 2010, intending to build a digital media company geared toward helping consumers decide what to buy. The former Time Inc. exec also wanted to buy or build a way into ecommerce.

"Not all content is the same, and I wanted to work with content that informed buying decisions," he says. "Ziff Davis was a perfect company for us to do that. We acquired the company with the idea of launching BuyerBase."

Shah declined to disclose the financial investment in BuyerBase, but says the platform should become a "meaningful business tool from a revenue standpoint, and generate a good amount of cash flow" within the first year.

There's a chance that, if successful, Ziff Davis might white-label the tool and take it into other industries or publishers, according to Shah. "Success means running the campaigns and delivering the ROI," he says.

Securing consumer privacy, Ziff Davis complies with the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising supported by industry groups including the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the 4A's, the Better Business Bureau and The DMA.

Ads delivered using BuyerBase, as well as pages on Ziff Davis' Web sites, will include an icon that allows users to learn about the data collection and easily opt out of targeting. Ad and site notice will be powered by Better Advertising, the first DAA-approved provider of the consumer notice and choice program.

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