The merger allows brands that use both platforms to more easily access user-generated content and reuse the content throughout the ecommerce business.

Two vendors focused on user-generated content—Pixlee Inc. and TurnTo Networks Inc.—announced their merger in January.

TurnTo provides technology for question-and-answer sections and consumer ratings and reviews on ecommerce websites. Pixlee is an influencer marketing platform and focuses on integrating user-generated content (UGC) on social media onto a merchant’s website.

“For us, tactically, we think the combination of customer reviews, visual UGC and influencer marking are the sweet spot of consolidation,” says Pixlee CEO Kyle Wong.

Pixlee and TurnTo are not the only ones that consider this section of services a good combination, as each of its top competitors teamed up. In August 2020, product reviews and UGC vendor Bazaarvoice Inc. acquired Curalate, which provides shoppable social media and influencer marketing, for an undisclosed amount.

Pixlee and TurnTo already had a few overlapping clients, such as watch retailer Nixon Inc. (No. 611 in the 2020 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000) and cosmetics brands Lime Crime (No. 907) and Morphe (No. 406). Combined, the two vendors now have more than 1,000 clients, Wong says.

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Each vendor will continue to operate as unique products. With the merger, the back-end systems will more easily link to each other and have a shared content database. For example, if a shopper submitted a review of a sweater with a photo using TurnTo’s technology on an apparel merchant’s website, the review and image would go into a shared database with Pixlee. If that apparel merchant’s marketing team was looking for a consumer image of that sweater to use in a social media ad, it could easily find it. Both of the technologies have an automatic tagging system. For example, the woman with the sweater review could be tagged with that product, her gender, age, race and the fact she’s wearing a mask.

Pixlee’s platform is meant for brands to get more use from its user-generated content and serve as a hub for the brand to access. For example, a brand’s merchandising team, ecommerce team and marketing team could all look in the database to find a photo tagged with their needs, such as consumers in a certain season, consumers of a certain demographic or consumers using a certain product.

“For ecommerce retailers, one of the hardest challenges of website scaling is the content that is required to have a good digital commerce experience,” Wong says.

Lime Crime uses both vendors to ensure it captures all of the images its influencers create on social media. When an influencer posts about Lime Crime’s products on Instagram, the retailer uses technology from vendors Pixlee and TurnTo to add those images to its ecommerce site—both on the homepage and product detail pages—to showcase what consumers can do with the product, says Kristin Kim, head of marketing at Lime Crime. Just as consumers go to Instagram for inspiration, Kim wants shoppers to be inspired on LimeCrime.com and discover creative ways to use Lime Crime cosmetics.

“The biggest idea-ators in the space are the consumers themselves and what they come up with with our products,” Kim says. “Consumers push the boundaries of how to use our products, which has been phenomenal.”

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Lime Crime embeds influencer images on its homepage.

Lime Crime embeds influencer images on its homepage.

Using submitted customer photos is cost-effective, Wong says, as retailers don’t have to shoot photographs every time their marketing campaign needs to target a certain niche. Plus, it helps with conversion, as shoppers want to see products used in real life, Wong says.

Wong says consumers who interact—such as view, like or comment—with customer photos are 1.2- to two-times more likely to buy than shoppers who don’t interact. A December 2020 survey of 8,051 consumers from Bazaarvoice Inc. finds similar results. 74% of consumers say they prefer to see previous customer photos and videos on a retailers’ websites rather than professional images. Plus, 62% of consumers say they are more likely to buy if they can view both photo and video content from previous customers.

Pixlee charges monthly based on the volume and services the clients select, Wong says. Costs can be anywhere from a few hundreds dollars for a smaller direct-to-consumer brand to tens of thousands of dollars per month for large enterprise customer, he says.

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