Chairish creates high-revenue sponsored listings platform with Adzerk


Chairish, the design lover’s marketplace for the best in vintage furniture and art, was looking to incorporate sponsored product listings into their site and app.

chairish sponsored listings
chairish sponsored listings

Such ad units had already proven successful for other eCommerce marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy. Chairish knew that having a similar product - where sellers could pay to promote their product listings for relevant searches - could be a lucrative new revenue stream.

amazon sponsored products
amazon sponsored products

So Chairish decided to build their own sponsored listings platform for displaying sponsored listings in search results. To speed up the process, they incorporated Adzerk's ad serving APIs to power the delivery, optimization, and reporting of the product.

"Adzerk is perfect for marketplaces looking to add sponsored products to search results, especially if engineering resources are limited."
Josh Hudner, Software Engineer

What Chairish Wanted

In designing their platform, Chairish had a few key goals:

  1. To create a high-margin, new revenue stream
  2. To have product listings look and behave like organic listings - including the ability to "heart" the listing
  3. To add a self-serve opt-in into their seller's portal so that advertisers could join the program easily
  4. To release the product in weeks, not years

As no standard ad server could provide the flexibility to accomplish these goals, they realized they would have to build it themselves. Unfortunately, Chairish had limited engineering resources to devote to a project that could take a year to build.

So Chairish reached out to Adzerk, whose APIs could allow them to build the exact sponsored listings product they wanted in just weeks.

What Chairish built with Adzerk

After integrating Adzerk's APIs into their mobile and web applications, Chairish quickly built their sponsored listings platform - with a single engineer.

With this product, Chairish maintained the user experience - and the sponsored listings blend in nicely with the standard listings. These paid listings behave exactly like normal listings too, such as having the heart button and linking to a product page.

The only visual difference between the paid and standard listings is a clearly-marked "Promoted" tag.

chairish ads
chairish ads

Targeting-wise, these paid listings appear just for relevant searches, such as the above example, where the Niagara Furniture side chair appears as a promoted listing for a search of "chairs".

Additionally, Chairish created a "Promoted Listings" tab within their self-serve seller's portal that enables sellers to opt-into the program with one click. Sellers can also see reporting in this tab.

chairish ads
chairish ads

With Adzerk, Chairish now has:

  1. A new revenue-driving ad product that barely changed the user experience
  2. A way for sellers to promote their own listings and drive more sales
  3. A self-serve interface so sellers could start/stop campaigns themselves
  4. An ad platform that was compliant with all privacy laws since it relied on intent and search terms, not PII

By using Adzerk to power the decision making process and reporting, Chairish built this product in just a few weeks - enabling them to start monetizing much faster than expected.

"Building our sponsored listing program was easy and fast with Adzerk - and our sellers love it."
Josh Hudner, Software Engineer

The results

Chairish saw positive results immediately upon launching:

Return on investment Chairish is seeing an 18x ROI - meaning that the revenue they are driving from these sponsored listings is 18 times higher than their monthly Adzerk cost
Seller adoption Since it was easy to opt-into the sponsored listings platform, hundreds of sellers quickly joined, thereby increasing the money that Chairish made from each of them
Launch date Using Adzerk they released this product in just weeks - letting them launch 9x faster than if they had tried to do it entirely by themselves
  1. Revenue growth - Chairish is seeing an 18x ROI - meaning that the revenue they are driving from these sponsored listings is 18 times higher than their monthly Adzerk cost.
  2. Fast Response Times - Since it was easy to opt-into the sponsored listings platform, hundreds of sellers quickly joined, thereby increasing the money that Chairish made from each of them.
  3. Launch Date - Using Adzerk they released this product in just weeks, letting them launch 9x faster than if they had tried to do it entirely by themselves.

How Adzerk Helped

As the market leader in ad serving APIs, Adzerk's tools made it easy for Chairish to build the exact sponsored listings platform they wanted. Chairish took advantage of these specific Adzerk features and benefits to design the product:

  1. Adzerk's Decision API - this API enables Chairish to request ads server-side and then get a response containing ad information like the product SKU to promote, metadata tied to the listing, and the image URL.

    For instance, below is an illustrative example of what an automated API request from Chairish to Adzerk could contain. Here they are asking Adzerk what event to display for a search of "chair".

    chairish ads
    chairish ads

    After sending this, Chairish gets a response in JSON containing details about the product listing to display. Chairish then takes this information and inserts it directly into their backend app/web client, ensuring that the sponsored listings use the same CSS/formatting as the surrounding listings.

    Below is an example of the type of information returned in the JSON response, which contains data they can place into their apps - such as the image URL, the listing's price, and the product name.

    chairish ads
    chairish ads

    Additionally, Chairish can make a single request at once for all three sponsored listings that appear in the row, and the Adzerk response will contain data about which ones to show and where.

  2. "Adzerk allowed us to quickly create a new revenue stream and immediately paid for itself."
    Josh Hudner, Software Engineer

  3. Fast responses - Since ads are requested server-side - not through page-slowing JavaScript tags - Chairish can place this content without any delays. Adzerk's tools can respond in as quickly as 50ms - an order of magnitude faster than most tags.
  4. Malware-free and privacy-law-compliant tools - By not using client-side (on-page/in-app) code, Chairish ensures Adzerk can't insert malware or drop cookies that could leak user PII. Plus, as Adzerk is GDPR-, CCPA-, and LGPD-compliant (as well as other laws) by default, they didn't have to worry about building their own compliance software.
  5. Revenue optimization algorithm - Using Adzerk's revenue optimization tools, if there are multiple listings that are eligible for a given search, then the algorithm will select the listing that'll drive the most revenue for Chairish.
  6. Management & Reporting APIs - First, Chairish built a self-serve portal for advertisers to log into and manage their campaigns and reporting. They then connected this to Adzerk's Management and Reporting APIs so that any changes in the UI will be reflected in Adzerk's system.
  7. Privacy-first, cookie-free, high-revenue targeting - Adzerk's robust targeting tools - including Custom Targeting, Keyword Targeting, and the proprietary targeting language Zerkel - let brands easily tailor content based on intent and context - neither of which require PII or cookies to serve high-value ads.

By using Adzerk to launch in weeks instead of years, Chairish easily built a sponsored listings platform with 18X ROI.

Interested in learning more?

If you're interested in building your own sponsored listings platform, please feel free to reach out, and we'll set up a free demo.

"Adzerk is a great partner, and we recommend them to anyone building a custom ad server."
Chief Digital Officer, Bed Bath & Beyond

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