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Shopzilla acquires Connexity to enhance audience-buying unit

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Shopzilla Inc. has acquired Connexity, a demand-side platform. Shopzilla manages online shopping brands in the United States and Europe, such as Bizrate, Beso, Shopzilla, Retrevo, TaDa, PrixMoinsCher, and SparDeinGeld, as well as a series of B2B businesses.

Shopzilla said it would link Connexity’s programmatic media-buying platform to its Aisle A division, which specializes in audience-buying.

“Shopzilla is in the business of connecting millions of consumers with retailers and brands, whether it’s on our owned and operated sites, our publisher network, or through Aisle A, our fast-growing audience activation division,” said Bill Glass, CEO of Shopzilla. “We have been investing substantially in data science to build out a compelling set of audience segments for advertisers of all types — retailers, brands, and manufacturers. This capacity, combined with Connexity’s programmatic media buying platform, will give Aisle A unprecedented reach to deliver targeted audiences in scale for its marketing partners.”

Shopzilla and Connexity have been partnering for the past year. Shopzilla expects to fully integrate Connexity’s platform into the Aisle A division in the next few months.

According to the company, Aisle A will help to identify, reach and convert high value consumers through an audience-centric programmatic solution. The Aisle A audiences, referred to as “Aisles,” will be available exclusively through the platform and the team will be rolling out a new suite of audience centric products in the coming months, including the ability to reach multiple devices in the household with bridged multiscreen targeting.

Aisle A, the audience activation division of Shopzilla, specializes in leveraging the power of shopping to create value for brands, manufacturers and retailers. It is powered by proprietary data and premium retail inventory collected from Shopzilla’s portfolio of shopping websites and a premium partner network. Aisle A is headquartered in Los Angeles with regional offices in New York, Chicago and London.

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Instant mobile e-gift cards? There’s an app for that

BY CSA STAFF

The new Wonder e-gift card app from Wonder Technologies is available free in the iTunes App store. Wonder allows consumers to instantly deliver e-gifts from participating retailers to anyone with an email address or mobile phone number.

The user links the app to a credit card via the app itself or Wonder website, and can select an amount and also include a personalized message. The recipient can accept the gift and send a thank you note immediately from their smartphone or computer. The Wonder e-gift card never expires. Once accepted, the recipient can redeem the gift when they want. Balances are visible on the app, and GPS reminders tell recipients when they are nearby the merchant for redemption.

Other features include the ability to browse a friend’s favorites, select from curated picks, and group gifting. The cards are securely stored in the cloud. Wonder can redeem e-gifts using existing payment systems, enabling retailers of all sizes to participate and have access to advanced market data. Wonder targets brick-and-mortar businesses in the restaurant, health & beauty, activity & events, shopping, and hospitality categories

“Wonder connects gift card buyers and recipients in a more thoughtful and meaningful way and offers the best redemption experience by simply swiping your credit card,” said Gerry Goldstein, CEO and co-founder of Wonder Technologies. “Only with Wonder can consumers conveniently give e-gift cards from any merchant in the U.S., whether it’s a favorite local boutique or a national brand.”

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Safeway considering possible sale

BY CSA STAFF

Safeway has confirmed that it is in discussions concerning a possible transaction involving the sale of the company. However, the company declined to comment further at this time.

"Although the discussions are ongoing, the company has not reached an agreement on a transaction, and there can be no assurance that these discussions will lead to an agreement or a completed transaction," Safeway stated as part of its earnings release.

Earlier this week, Credit Suisse research analyst Ed Kelly speculated that an outright sale to Cerberus/Kroger would be the best-case scenario for investors.

Safeway is postponing its annual investor conference, which had been scheduled for early March 2014, the grocer announced.

Separately, the company has decided to distribute the remaining 37.8 million shares it owns of Blackhawk Network Holdings (approximately 72.2% of the outstanding Blackhawk shares) to Safeway stockholders. Currently, the plan is to make the distribution on a pro rata basis to all Safeway stockholders in a transaction intended to be tax-free to Safeway and its stockholders. However, if the company consummates a sale transaction, the distribution may be taxable. The timing and details of the proposed distribution will be determined in the near future, and further announcements will be made when those decisions have been finalized.

In addition, Safeway owns 49% of Casa Ley S.A. de C.V., the fifth largest food and general merchandise retailer in Mexico based on sales. Based on Casa Ley’s improving performance, the company believes it is an appropriate time to explore alternatives to monetize its investment in Casa Ley.

Safeway reported sales and other revenue totaled $11.3 billion in the fourth quarter of 2013, a 0.9% increase. An identical-store sales increase (excluding fuel) of 1.6% was largely offset by a decline in fuel sales. For the year sales were $36.1 billion in 2013, essentially flat compared to 2012. Identical-store sales increases (excluding fuel) of 1.7% and higher other revenue were offset by lower fuel sales and the disposition of Safeway’s Genuardi’s stores.

"We are pleased with the progress we made in 2013," stated Robert Edwards, Safeway’s president and CEO. "Strategies to grow sales and improve operating profit dollars have begun to produce results. In 2013, we generated our best volume growth since 2006, and we had our best identical-store sales growth in the last five years. At the same time, we continue to pursue strategies to enhance momentum and increase shareholder value. We look forward to continuing progress in 2014."

Safeway posted net earnings from continuing operations of $100 million (35 cents per diluted share) for the fourth quarter of 2013, representing a 41.4% decline as compared to $170.7 million ($0.71 per diluted share) for the fourth quarter of 2012. The fourth quarter of 2013 includes a $57.4 million loss ($0.14 per diluted share) on foreign currency translation, a $30 million loss ($0.08 per diluted share) from the impairment of notes receivable and a $9.7 million gain (net of noncontrolling interest of $3.8 million) ($0.04 per diluted share) from the reduction of contingent consideration related to Blackhawk’s acquisition of Cardpool.

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