U.S. News

Staying In Front of Online Customers

Linda R. Sittenfeld

The Internet can be a complex cobweb of sites. If you are a business, how do you get customers to come to your shop and actually buy something? Chad Little, founder of Fetchback, has an answer.

What's the Fetchback innovation?
It's the ability to reach people who've come to your site but haven't bought anything. They can be shopping, the phone rings, and they're off onto other things. Later in the day they go somewhere else, and see an ad for that first site. It's a way to stay in front of someone who's visited, who's interested. It's the equivalent of someone saying "can we help you with something" as you walk out the door of a store.

How does it work? How do the companies coordinate behind the scenes?
That's the secret sauce. It's "wait, wait, come back" technology. There are many relationships behind the scenes. The technology utilizes cookies, of course.

Should shoppers have privacy issues?
No personal information is saved. The card you use at the grocery store has a lot more personal information. Plus, you can opt out if you want, and go back to dancing aliens. This way, instead of random ads, you'll see ads for things you already have an interest in.

How much does Fetchback cost an advertiser?
Last year advertisers spent $17 billion on online ads. The majority was for a click on, say, Google's website. An advertiser might pay 50 cents a click. With Fetchback, for two to four cents, you can follow a visitor who didn't buy anything for three to six more ads.

Here's a scenario:
Someone shopping for a car might do a lot of research, and have some lead time. A car company spends a lot of money, with tv and other ads, and ads on, say, Google. For an additional eight cents for each lost prospect, a car company can put an ad in front of a prospective buyer maybe 20 to 30 times. And these are different ads: Incentives to buy, mileage benefits, etc. And don't forget that you're getting an ad no matter what - dancing silhouettes from lower my bills.com - so now instead you'll get ads for cars, or things you are interested in.

How's business?
Fetchback opened up shop in May after working on the idea for five months. It started with three people; now there are 12, with an expansion to 20 or 30 people by the first quarter of 2008. Fetchback has angel investors, not necessarily venture capitalists, who have known founder Chad Little for years.