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Home goods merchant Wayfair is testing two TV ads: One from its agency and one made by employees

Posted by Scott Kirsner  November 2, 2012 10:23 AM

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Wayfair, the Boston e-commerce site that sells furniture and home decor, has set up an advertising face-off that will play out on cable TV this month.

One of the spots it is running on cable networks like HGTV and ABC Family was made by the San Francisco ad agency Penabrand, and the other was conceived and shot by Wayfair's in-house video crew. Penabrand has produced TV ads for GE Healthcare, Jeep, and Wayfair's video crew, Ian Eshelman and Ian Kilburn -- known as The Two Ians -- typically make product videos for Wayfair's site, training videos, and recruiting videos that help the company project a fun image to prospective hires. Needless to say, they've never made a TV commercial before. (Eshelman's initial gig at Wayfair was as a customer service representative. He and Kilburn attended University of Vermont together.)

Wayfair, known until last year as CSN Stores, only started advertising on television in September, initially using a spot created by Penabrand. (The ad from the Ians started running this week.) CEO Niraj Shah tells me they're carefully monitoring the impact that the ads have on traffic to the site -- and purchases. Right now, the company is splitting its ad spending between the straight-faced, design-driven Penabrand ad and the more humorous ad created by the Ians. If one performs better, Shah says that Wayfair will tilt its spending toward that one. The company plans to spend about $1 million between now and the end of the year on the cable campaigns; last year, Wayfair raised $165 million in its first infusion of outside funding.

Here's the ad made by Penabrand:

And here's the ad made by the Ians:

Which one do you think will attract more buyers to Wayfair's site? Vote or comment below.

<a href="" title="Which Wayfair TV spot do you like better?">Which Wayfair TV spot do you like better?</a>

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Innovation and technology news that matters, on a new website from the Boston Globe, featuring Scott Kirsner and other original reporting.

About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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