We did a first-ever public demo of the Canned Banners API at SF New Tech last week. This particular SF New Tech event was centered around e-commerce, and it was a pleasure sharing the stage with e-commerce innovators like Shopify (with whom we partner), Lexity (with whom we hope to partner), and Stripe (which we use to process credit card payments).
Turning XML lead into display ad gold
Watch the demo and see how we grab raw product XML (product names, images, prices, etc) using Best Buy’s BBYOpen API, and then use the Canned Banners API to turn that XML into display ads.
I don’t have an online store. Can I still use the Canned Banners API?
You bet! The Canned Banners API can work with virtually any data or content source within any industry. The demo video above just happens to focus on e-commerce using the BBYOpen API as a sample data source. Other data sources could include:
Real estate data (ex: property listing data)
Travel data (ex: real-time ticket prices & availability)
Here are two of the ads they made (the 728×90 has been scaled down to fit our blog…sorry if the images appear a little distorted):
We were curious as to exactly what “element-level display advertising” meant, and Simpli.fi was kind enough to give us a quick run-down. We thought the concept was worth sharing.
In case you’ve forgotten why targeting is important…
Canned Banners handles display ad creative, but targeting is extremely important as well. Even with the best ads ever made, a poorly-targeted campaign will fall flat, and good targeting can help inform the creative process so that successive iterations of display ads do a better and better job of connecting with prospects.
Consider a few basic questions and how the answers might affect the design of your ads: is a given viewer young or old? Rich or poor? Male or female? Between those 6 ultra-basic attributes, there are already 8 separate “archetypes” you need to think about when creating and testing ads. Now imagine that you’re a company like Procter & Gamble, with thousands of products and tens (hundreds?) of millions of customers. How do you stay on top of the targeting challenge?
Simpli.fi specializes in “element-level” targeting, which basically treats every member of your audience as a unique prospect with unique attributes. This might seem like an obvious approach, but it’s not the way most ad campaigns are run.
Consider a hypothetical search retargeting campaign for a major retailer. The retailer might easily target 100,000+ keywords across various product categories and brands. To manage this much data, advertisers often create audience segments like this one for Prada handbags:
Obviously this approach has value. The campaign manager will have insight into the behavior of Prada handbag buyers as a group, as well as the ability to fine-tune the performance of the Prada handbag segment against other segments such as “prada shoes,” or “skinny jeans.”
Simpli.fi, however, takes this a step further with element-level targeting. In this case, an “element” would be a keyword. And when you gain insight into specific keyword performance, you get a clearer picture of what’s really going on in the audience segment:
In this case, you could further optimize the campaign by targeting the three higher-performing keywords more aggressively, while dialing back the investment in the under-performing keywords.
You can read more about Simpli.fi’s pitch on their website. They offer element-level targeting across several different marketing channels, not just search retargeting. And of course, when you need 100,000 ads to target 100,000 “elements,” you’ll know who to come to.
CS-Cart sells standalone software for any size of online store. It’s not a subscription-based service, meaning you pay for the software once and it’s yours forever. They even have a free edition!
Seriously, there are a lot of features to check out—too many to list in one blog post. So if you’re thinking of setting up an online store (or even an online marketplace with multiple independent stores), we recommend checking out CS-Cart.
And if you’re a CS-Cart shop owner and you want to make some Flash banners for online advertising, check out CS-Cart’s partners page to get a special discount code.
Mademoiselle M is an online store that sells hand-fabricated jewelry, made from gold, silver, pearls, and other precious materials.
They recently made a set of banner ads using Canned Banners, and we wanted to feature them because:
They’ve got great-looking product photos. Professional product photography is key if you’re selling online. If you own an online store and you already have professional product photos, it’s easy to use those photos when designing banner ads with Canned Banners.
The overall color scheme is consistent. The jewelry photos were taken against a white background, and the color scheme for the banners matches this, resulting in a clean, elegant look.
The font choice of Tallys matches the banners’ overall elegant, sophisticated style.
The banners follow the important Final Frame Rule, meaning that you can tell what the ad is trying to say by looking only at the very last frame.
Note that the 728×90 has been scaled down to fit the 600px page width of our blog.
Have a look at the demo video to see all the hot e-commerce ad building action:
What’s next? Well, we still need to add more template choices (still just the one banner template, but it’s a flexible one!), and we’re planning on adding a subscription plan for stores that need to make more than just one or two sets of ads.
Oh, and look out for the app on other e-commerce platforms as well…mwuh huh hah hah hah…
“Etailers within Shopify’s platform have one more option when it comes to advertising: flash banner ads. This week, Canned Banners rolled out a new banner creation platform, which is self-serve, for the site.” Visit BizReport.com to read more.