Creating a Kayak for the pet-obsessed

Geoffrey Roche talks about finding ways outside of advertising to support his efforts to help dog owners.

Canadian ad icon and Poolhouse president and co-founder Geoffrey Roche has created a price comparison hub, GoodDogDeals, an offshoot of his company’s site Three Million Dogs.

Three Million Dogs, formerly known as Dogbook, was launched by Roche and his son Alexandre in 2007, and received the full attention of the elder Roche in 2011 after stepping down from the agency he helped create. It features news, videos and advice relevant to dog owners.

Part of the motivation to launch sister-site GoodDogDeals is to find new ways to differentiate and support Poolhouse’s group of sites, which also include Three Million Cats and Three Million Horses. Just over two years ago, Three Million Dogs was redesigned to make it more appealing to both users and advertisers. Today, Roche has realized that a site of its size needs to look to other sources for revenue.

“I’ve failed so many ways over the last two years, but we’re finally getting somewhere,” he says. “We can’t support the business with just ads, there has to be better a business model attached to this. It’s been challenging, but I love a good challenge.”

Roche thinks that GoodDogDeals, and the affiliate deals it has set up with retailers, is step towards solving that challenge. The idea came after Roche saw the value in sites like RedFlagDeals and Kayak and wondered why something similar didn’t exist for pet products, a category in which owners spend almost $1,500 every year. The site currently features dog food, toys and health products, comparing prices from retailers including PetSmart, PetCo and Amazon. Poolhouse receives revenue for every visitor that clicks through to a retailer’s site, as a well as a portion of sales made from those referred. Keeping with Three Million Dogs’ “making the world a better place for dogs” motto, GoodDogDeals will also allow users to compare prices for veterinarians, breeders, boarders and walkers in the future. Also, every four months, GoodDogDeals will select a different animal shelter to receive 5% of all profits from the site’s sales.

GoodDogDeals is being promoted through advertising on partner websites and email newsletters to Three Million Dogs members. It will also have a “Cyberdog Monday” sale following American Thanksgiving, complete with a contest to win a shopping spree on the site.

Three Million Dogs currently boasts two million visitors per month, approximately 70% of which is coming from the U.S., according to Roche. GoodDogDeals is focusing on attracting that American audience, shipping to them from the U.S. partners. Canadian customers can purchase from the site, but Roche says that the cost of shipping products here negates most of the savings the site provides, although the company is currently looking into ways to change that. Poolhouse will also explore the option of creating similar deal shopping hubs for its cat and horse sites.