Singapore-based Carousell, a second-hand online marketplace, wants to remain free to use for its users to inspire every person globally to start selling and buying in order to do more for one another.
That is why the platform is operating on a largely ad-dependent model, with advertising currently one of Carousell’s main revenue streams.
According to Lewis Ng, the seven-year-old start up’s chief commercial officer, Carousell’s products need to be engaging and impactful like Facebook and Google in order for its operating model to succeed.
While he acknowledges that it will be tough, he says Carousell is embracing the challenge because it believes growth and monetization go hand in hand in this virtuous cycle.
“We have built targeting models that predict propensity to purchase, which allows advertisers to choose from a variety of campaign strategies.
“Our internal advertising platform allows advertisers to optimize their campaigns on reach for optimal brand awareness campaigns, or on the propensity to purchase for optimal conversion campaigns,” he said.
“Our new video format also allows advertisers to create engaging, story-telling campaigns, optimized across user journeys. Ultimately our combination of highly granular data with our in-house proprietary technology is how our advertising strategy is helping Carousell build valuable strategic relationships and a key revenue source for Carousell.”
He continues: “Internal users can access self-serve native CPC ads on our platform, also known as “Spotlight”. It provides targeting options for real-time keywords, categories and many more.”
It is understandable why advertisers are keen to work with Carousell, which also has a presence in countries like Hong Kong, the Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan – They want to access the platform’s large troves of aggregated data, which it is constantly exploring ways to use effectively.
Ng, who previously led commercial relationships at PropertyGuru and TripAdvisor, was hired in May to drive this and transform Carousell into a premium publisher.
According to him, the platform’s data shows that on average, a Singaporean spends approximately 13 minutes per day on Carousell. He also claims that the average Carousell user logs in to the app five times a day, which he says is a result of the platform’s targeting and push-notification strategy.
Carousell has also made its inventory available to media buyers on the Singapore Media Exchange (SMX), a publisher co-op jointly formed by rivals Mediacorp and Singapore Press Holdings that aims to offer advertisers a one-stop selection of programmatic brand-safe options to reach top-quality audiences across South East Asia, including exclusive access to premium formats.
Being on SMX means Carousell has the opportunity to combine its own first-party data with other marketplaces in the co-op like Kaidee and Mudah, to create richer audience data for more precise and effective targeting for advertisers.
The platform previously hired former Singapore Press Holdings’ deputy chief marketing officer and senior vice president of sales strategy and operations, Su-Lin Tan, as its new vice president of operations.
Tan, who spent two decades at SPH, fronted advertising print sales for the media conglomerate for 13 years, before moving up to lead its digital transformation efforts. She was instrumental in bringing SPH to the table with Mediacorp to form SMX.
“Carousell wants to inspire every person in the world to start selling and buying in order to do more for one another. Advertisers support this mission by working with us to engage the community, and this helps us sustain the overall business,” explains Ng.
“With our advertising solutions, our goal is to provide accurate and granular user insights to our sellers and advertisers that will ultimately drive product recommendations, thereby streamlining the buying and selling experience for every Carousell user while driving growth.”
“We are also working with a number of programmatic partners where our main goal is to streamline our user experience by offering highly targeted advertising and product recommendations while continuing to grow Carousell’s revenue streams.”
One way Carousell has helped advertisers with its first-party data is to understand users’ shopping behaviors on its platform as young families, students and young working adults make up a majority of its users.
It uses data like search, browsing and purchasing data to segment users into more distinct categories and target our audience based on six different segments like demographic, life stage, behavioral, location, seller type and by the RFM model (recency, frequency and monetary).
As a marketplace with both buyers and sellers, Carousell can also tap into its buying and selling data to more accurately determine what life stage its users are in, like young families in the market for baby, children, and maternity products.
Using advanced keyword association analysis and external data feeds, the platform is able to further segment its parents’ category into maternity, which is those who are currently pregnant, babies, which are those with children between zero and two years old, and kids, who are those with children from two to five years old.
Carousell is also able to split these segments by location, age, and gender, which ensure the platform is extremely targeted in its product recommendations.
Through these methods, it has found that mothers are the most generous group of users, with more than half of active users in the #blessings category are mothers with babies or kids, and 43% of #blessings listings are created by mothers with babies and kids.
“We are also able to identify users preparing for an engagement, marriage or appear to be preparing to upsize their homes and cars. This allows us to not only identify those currently in the parents’ life stage but those about to enter into it,” explains Ng.