Digital platform


March 26, 2013 by wizeblogmin

The Wize Commerce platform uses big data and statistical methods to drive optimal monetization and ROI for our customers.

It all starts with predictive modeling.

To succeed in a simple system, you gotta have a gimmick (or so they say). But when you’re dealing with complex digital systems—with massive streams of real-time and offline data at every step of the way—you need powerful algorithms to beat the competition.

Like our merchant customers, we use algorithms every day to solve a myriad of challenges, including social interest identification, mobile conversion improvement techniques, SEM keyword selection and bidding, page optimization, product recommendations and ROI projections to optimize cross-channel marketing spend.

But for us, two things are different.

The first is our scale. We create over $1B worth of transactions per year, and have been delivering competitively unbeatable results for over a decade, working with many of the world’s biggest sellers across a huge range of categories.

The second is how much skin we have in the game. The nature of our business is that we have millions of dollars invested in keyword bids and other traffic and revenue optimization techniques at any one time. Essentially, we’ve “bet” the money before we‘ve even begun. So our forecasts better be accurate.

Predictive modeling is at the core of what we do and how we think. Statistical methods drive our technology, which in turn drives our statistical methods… and this virtuous cycle is what drives our business. Over ten years, millions of scenarios, and hundreds of product categories, we’ve developed our algorithms to predict:

  • Quantitative ad value for different sites and publishers
  • Optimal search rankings and recommendations
  • Optimal weightings of social signals at each step of the purchase process
  • Etc.

Behind the scenes, we use Hadoop for data aggregation, and Hive and Cassandra to store and access data across millions of products and user profiles. And we’re always refining. Search algorithm changes last year delivered significant revenue lift on Nextag.com and these algorithms are now used across many of our Shopping Network sites to optimize different objective functions.

Because we’re an independent service provider, when we win, our merchant customers win as well. Here are two common traps we help with:

  • The big search, social, and content ecosystems have created enormous value, but their business models are essentially extractive: merchants who work directly with or optimize only for only one ecosystem are essentially playing blackjack against the house—and the house always wins. The Wize Commerce platform uses predictive modeling to optimize traffic and monetization across all channels, not just one.
  • Over time, individual merchants tend to develop deep expertise in their own data and catalog and the unique quirks of their business. But the danger of narrow specialization is that you optimize the wrong thing, and ignore a trend, signal, or important technique that could help you. We’re expert at such techniques, as our Silhouette, our in-store optimization service, and others demonstrate with real results.

Contact us to learn more about how Wize Commerce predictive modeling expertise can boost your traffic and revenue performance.

The Wize Commerce platform uses big data and statistical methods to drive optimal monetization and ROI for our customers. It all starts with predictive modeling. To succeed in a simple system, you gotta have a gimmick (or so they say). But when you’re dealing with complex digital systems—with massive streams of real-time and offline data…

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February 27, 2013 by wizeblogmin

Wize Commerce regularly hosts expert talks on topics of interest to our internal global staff, and external partners.

One of our recent talks features experts Jijoe Vurghese, Platform & Infrastructure Manager, and Julian Ong, Principle Engineer UI Platform, talking about the Wize Commerce technology platform.

The edited notes and video for this talk are below.

How we’ve built our Services Platform

Wize Commerce is a platform for acquisition and revenue optimization of e-commerce traffic. We have been profitable for the past 10 years and Nextag is now the #2 paid comparison-shopping site on the Internet.

We’re evolving from a shopping-comparison engine, to offering our Wize Commerce platform to businesses outside of our company. To accomplish this, we have to make it easy for customers to leverage our platform. We think the best way to do this is to make this platform a set of services.

The work at Wize Commerce is progressing along two tracks. First, we are building a framework to support services with features like request prioritization, controlled rate of service requests, and automated generation of documentation to make it easier for people to consume these services. The second track requires developing and deploying the actual services themselves.

Having an SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) helps our partners achieve their goals by having all the heavyweight business logic, such as billing calculation, user personalization, search results customization , etc., go to the back-end of the website. So the front end of the website just has to worry about presentation. 

Some of the services we’ve developed for our shopping comparison sites:

  • Product search service, which allows us to access our vast catalog of millions of products.
  • Our visit and click servicewhich allows us to track users across our site and allows us to bill merchants based on what features the user is seeing.
  • Our Buzz Score service (a Buzz Score is basically a measure of the social buzz around a product), which will help a site create much more compelling social features.

Next on our roadmap is A/B testing services. Over the years, we’ve developed a very robust and highly optimized A/B testing framework in Java.  We’re exposing this experimental framework as a service and creating a Ruby client for it.

How our clients use our Services Platform

When a client wants to sign up for services provided by Wize Commerce, the first thing they do is set up and provision their account. Secondly, they provide their catalog. We support several different formats for the catalog to make it easier for our customers. We call this our import service, which ingests a customer’s catalog and makes it available for search. Then, we agree on the specific products and categories we want to bid on. 

When a user comes to one of our client sites, the first thing that will happen is our visit service will be called. This will create a visit, which will begin the process of tracking the user throughout the site. Next, the client site will call our experimentation service, which will determine which side of the A/B tests the user will be on – for the hundreds of tests we have going on at any given time. The user will then browse around the site for a bit, and when the user makes a significant click, they’ll call out to our click service which will record the click information into our data store.

In front of these three services, we have a shared externalization layer, which handles authentication, throttling, and json translation. What this allows us to do is control access to our services, as well as translate our thrift responses (Apache Thrift is the language in which our services speak) into whatever format the client wants.

Final thoughts

In its end state, the Wize Commerce platform exposes millions of events that occur inside the platform in near real time to our clients, calling our traffic acquisition and revenue optimization services.

Subscribe to the Wize Commerce blog to get news on Wize Commerce expert talks and other events, as we launch them.

Wize Commerce regularly hosts expert talks on topics of interest to our internal global staff, and external partners. One of our recent talks features experts Jijoe Vurghese, Platform & Infrastructure Manager, and Julian Ong, Principle Engineer UI Platform, talking about the Wize Commerce technology platform. The edited notes and video for this talk are below….

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November 2, 2012 by wizeblogmin

The Wize Commerce team has been hard at work with our Silhouette launch clients in recent weeks, with many merchants running new customer acquisition engagements.  With their input, we are pleased to announce that today we released the Silhouette Performance Reporting module.  Wize Commerce clients now have access to self-service reporting to monitor marketing performance in the Silhouette.

Silhouette Reports provide a 360 degree view of the conversion funnel – with key traffic acquisition metrics such as impressions and click thru rate, Silhouette performance metrics such as conversion, and merchant site conversion metrics including orders and sales.  Together we work with clients to optimize business results, and calculate and improve marketing ROI and overall cost of sale.  Of course the reporting is configurable and can be viewed online or exported.

Check back often for Silhouette product enhancements.

The Wize Commerce team has been hard at work with our Silhouette launch clients in recent weeks, with many merchants running new customer acquisition engagements.  With their input, we are pleased to announce that today we released the Silhouette Performance Reporting module.  Wize Commerce clients now have access to self-service reporting to monitor marketing performance…

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June 15, 2012 by wizeblogmin

I’m excited to introduce a big new chapter in our history – the launch of Wize Commerce, from day one already a global leader in digital marketing and online commerce.

What started as Nextag, way back in the late 1990s, has grown over the years into a powerful e-commerce platform built on state-of-the-art technology, operating in 9 countries today.

For over a decade, we’ve designed, built and operated the large-scale and high-performance technology and processes powering sales for many of the world’s largest, as well as fastest growing, companies.

Now, for the first time, we’ve packaged these services for enterprises around the world.

What makes Wize Commerce unique? (more…)

I’m excited to introduce a big new chapter in our history – the launch of Wize Commerce, from day one already a global leader in digital marketing and online commerce. What started as Nextag, way back in the late 1990s, has grown over the years into a powerful e-commerce platform built on state-of-the-art technology, operating…

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