WebCollage Takes Ad Copy Mobile for Top Retailers

If you click to the product page for L’Oreal Healthy Look Sublime Mousse medium brown hair color on Walgreens.com, you’ll pull up a detailed product description, a list of ingredients, and even a video review from a happy customer named Jen. Search for the same product on CVS.com and you’ll find identical content pertaining to the L’Oreal hair coloring—right down to that same video featuring Jen raving about all the compliments she’s received on her newly dyed coif.

The technology platform that gives L’Oreal the ability to post consistent ad copy on multiple retailers’ sites is made by New York-based WebCollage. The company, which was founded in Israel 12 years ago, has grown rapidly and is now syndicating ad copy for 700 manufacturers. WebCollage’s customers—which also include Sony, Microsoft, Pfizer, and Disney—use the company’s software-as-service platform to market 19,000 products, says CEO Scott Matthews (pictured above).

Now WebCollage is getting ready to roll out new functionality that will allow its customers to go mobile. As it stands, ad copy created on WebCollage’s platform is best viewed on desktops and laptops, because it’s laid out in a tabular fashion. So when a customer clicks on a button that says “take a product tour,” she is brought to a screen with labeled tabs that say “overview,” “video reviews,” and the like. “That content wouldn’t look good on a three-and-a-half inch display,” Matthews says. WebCollage’s new tools will automatically optimize ad copy for whatever mobile device a consumer is using.

Considering that virtually everyone who has ever bought a consumer product online has probably interacted with WebCollage’s platform at some point, it’s somewhat remarkable how quiet the company has been. Matthews says the company has focused on marketing its technology capabilities directly to consumer-products manufacturers, and has succeeded at adding about 150 customers a year. WebCollage has raised about $33 million since 2002, according to SEC documents, and its backers include Sierra Ventures, Greylock Partners, Cedar Fund, Gilde IT Fund, and GSI Commerce.

One of the keys to attracting customers, Matthews says, is that WebCollage is “agnostic to the type of content.” That means regardless of whether the advertising material is plain text, video, or even flash, the platform can host it. That has helped WebCollage stand out from competitors that offer specific services, such as video tools for online advertisers, Matthews says.

Matthews says the mobile capabilities will be added to the WebCollage platform at no extra charge for customers. The newly enhanced software platform will automatically transform existing ad copy into content that can be viewed on Apple, Blackberry, and Android devices.

WebCollage charges customers based on how many products they’re selling via the platform and how many sales channels they want to cover, Matthews says. “We have customers that have one product for sale at one retailer and pay us $800 a year,” he says. “Our largest customers pay us over $1 million a year. We have a pretty wide spectrum.”

WebCollage continues to look for ways to help product manufacturers enhance the online-shopping experience for their customers. On July 11, the company partnered with UK-based E-Tale to offer direct links to retailers from manufacturer’s websites. So when shoppers go directly to a manufacturer’s site to read about a product, they can see right on that page which retailers have it in stock, then link directly to a retailer’s site to make the purchase.

Matthews says WebCollage is cash-flow positive and developing a strategy for an overseas expansion. “We have customers publishing content in 10 or 11 different languages, but I don’t have a robust infrastructure around the world to support them,” he says. “We’re now considering our options for how best to operate on a global scale.”


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