SideStep Launches Activities Search

April 27, 2006

SideStep today launched Activities Search Beta which offers comprehensive, real time search and quick links to booking options for local entertainment in categories such as Museums, Sports, Outdoor & Adventure, Amusement & Theme Park, and Dining. The service also offers powerful filtering options such as duration (3 Hour tour or all day tour?), city (Visiting NYC? You might want to see Stamford, CT), and day (Rest the first couple days and then choose an Segway tour for the third day of your trip).

This service isn’t just for someone planning a vacation, but also for anyone who wants to book an activity in his or her local area. SideStep’s Activity Search would actually be a very strong stand alone offering, but has even more potential when integrated into flight and hotel searches.

You’d think that something like this is already out there…but I think that SideStep is the first to comprehensively aggregate disparate types of activities through search, provide advanced filtering capabilities, and then link to activity providers where you can buy tickets. It’s taking CitySearch to the next logical level.

Read my introduction to SideStep Activity Search over at VerticalSearch.net…it was written at around 1am this morning, so please excuse any errors.


Shopping.com’s Q1 2006 Revenue and Earnings

April 25, 2006

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m not too impressed with Shopping.com at the moment. I think the company has incredible potential and after a wave of personnel changes (remember, it’s 6+ months after the eBay acquisition closed), Shopping.com should now be getting back to basics; providing a great user experience.

If you think I’ve been unfairly bearish on Shopping.com, it seems that I’m not the only one with this opinion. I think the eBay earnings call completely backs up my position.

-First, the announcement of eBay’s Q1 2006 results – the standard press release that eBay put on the wires – made Shopping.com look like the ugly step-child of eBay…

“Q1 was an excellent quarter for the company, with strong growth across our portfolio of businesses,” said Meg
Whitman, President and CEO of eBay Inc. “eBay, PayPal and Skype are successful businesses on their own,
and together they create additional opportunities for innovation and expansion.”

Is Meg saying that Shopping.com is not a successful business on its own? You can spin that any way you want, but that hurts.

Read the rest of this entry »


Scripps’ (SSP) Q1 Results

April 25, 2006

Scripps (NYSE: SSP) is up just over 2% in early morning trading (9:58am).

Here is Scripps’ first quarter earnings release.

Relevant Shopzilla numbers:

Interactive media revenue from the company’s online comparison shopping services, Shopzilla and uSwitch, was $58.6 million for the first quarter. Segment profit was $13.9 million.

Interactive media results include revenue and a contribution to segment profit from uSwitch for the two-week period after it was acquired by Scripps on March 16. The company acquired Shopzilla on June 27, 2005. At Shopzilla, revenue was $55.6 million, up 107 percent on a pro forma basis.

This compares to Q1 2005 results of $26.9m in revenue and $6.3m in profit. I’m hoping Scripps breaks out segment profit for Shopzilla on the conference call so we can also do an apples to apples comparison of on that front.

I won’t be able to listen to the call this morning, but I’ll check out the transcript later on today. A quick look at year over year (Y/Y) growth for Scripps other businesses shows how important the interactive unit is. Revenue for:
Newspapers is up 2.3% Y/Y
Licensing and other media is down 8.6% Y/Y
Broadcast television is up 15.9% Y/Y

Without interactive media growth of 100%+, Scripps just looks like another old school media company.


IMing

April 24, 2006

My IM systems have been on the fritz. I just got back up and running. If you sent an IM to my Yahoo! handle in the last couple weeks, I wasn’t ignoring you.

Please try contacting me again.

Y! IM: brismi
AOL, Skype: brismiandrew


Bob Tedeschi’s Wiki Article In NYTimes

April 24, 2006

Tedeschi’s e-commerce report has become a must read the last couple months.

Today he covers Wikis from ShopWiki, Amazon, and Wikipedia.

Read the article


Catching Up – This Week In Shopping Search

April 24, 2006

Way behind on posts & emails. Sorry. Should be able to get caught up today…

What to expect this week:
-Closer look at ShopWiki (you’ve got the shopping engine facts, now let’s see what’s under the hood).
-Return to mobile. I introduced Frucall a couple weeks ago, this week it’s Slifter (consumer side)/GPShopper (marketer side).
-eBay’s conference call – where’s Shopping.com?
-Scripps’ conference call (Tuesday morning) – will Shopzilla continue to drive growth? Any further details on uSwitch?
-Thoughts on Ad:Tech
-and more…


Vertical Search Remains Hot

April 19, 2006

While I’m trying to keep ComparisonEngines focused on shopping search, I think it’s important to keep you up to speed on other verticals like job search and travel search.

-SimplyHired announced a $13.5m investment led by Fox Interactive Media (FIM) and Foundation Capital. This is a continuation of a trend in which old school media companies are investing in high growth vertical search engines. NYTimes and Indeed. Scripps and Shopzilla. IAC and Pronto.

-While most reporters picked up on all the bells and whistles that came with FareChase’s official launch, what’s more important is that FareChase results are now integrated into Yahoo! search results. This is a big step forward for travel search.

If you’re interested in vertical search, make sure to check out VerticalSearch.net, where I cover job search and travel search.


Former DoubleClick Execs Launch ShopWiki

April 19, 2006

ShopWiki shopping search

Last week, I sat down with the founders of ShopWiki; Kevin Ryan, Dwight Merriman, and Eliot Horrowitz. If you recognize the name Kevin Ryan, it’s because he is the former CEO of DoubleClick. Dwight is the former CTO of DoubleClick. Eliot was a software engineer at DoubleClick. Read full bios here.

Talking with the ShopWiki founders was like talking to old friends because from the start, we were speaking the same language. All the issues that I’ve been harping on for the last 6 months – comprehensiveness, price floors, lack of loyalty/poor user experience – were dismissed as we discussed how to create a better shopping experience and provide relevant results to users.

Relevance. That’s what this comes down to. Some of the current engines are not consistently providing relevant results to users. If 35 – 45% of revenue comes from people clicking on Google AdSense ads as opposed to results aggregated through data feeds (your main business), isn’t that an indication that there’s a lot of room for improvement?

Now I’m not saying that ShopWiki is the answer. ShopWiki is far from perfect and the service has a long long way to go, but it’s on the right path and is a long term threat to the established players who are not thinking seriously about crawling.

I’ll post specific comments/criticisms on ShopWiki very soon, but let’s just get the facts out there. Following is my interview with the founders of ShopWiki; Kevin, Dwight, and Eliot.

Introduction…
“Dwight and I spent months going through different verticals. Comparison shopping was the biggest from the beginning and the problem hasn’t yet been solved. With travel, you ask 100 people where to go and 50 would say Expedia. In comparison shopping, ask a hundred people and not more than 5 say I use [comparison shopping site] X. You already have 6 engines out there which are incredibly profitable. For us, we’re creating a better product.”

Read the rest of this entry »


Frucall Q&A – Mobile Shopping Search

April 13, 2006

As most of you know, I’m a little skeptical of mobile shopping search solutions at this point as I don’t think we’re there yet. Mobile will matter for shopping, but I’m not sure what form it will take. You have old-school WAP solutions (PriceGrabber), SMS solutions (Froogle), GPS/LBS solutions (through a downloadable application) (S’lifter), and now Frucall.

I’m looking into all of these options and will write up my thoughts on the pros and cons of each. In the meantime, below is an e-mail Q&A with Nasser Manesh, CTO of Frucall.

How many individual product SKUs are covered?
“Right now we are covering Amazon’s database, which is a few million items. See below for more details.”

Where does the product database come from? Are you just working through Amazon’s API?
“The initial launch of the service was with Amazon only. Work is already under way to expand the search beyond Amazon, and take advantage of not only e-retailers such as Amazon, but comparison shopping engines. The goal is to provide the best possible online prices to the in-store shopper.”

What is your relationship with Amazon? Is it a basic affiliate relationship?
“We are an AWS (Amazon Web Services) developer, and the business relationship at this point is the basic affiliate relationship.”

Is there a certain category that you focus on like Books or Digital Cameras?
“The vision is to cover everything, and our software is designed to handle that. However since the initial focus is on UPC codes, our
service in its current state is more helpful with books, CDs, DVDs and movies, games, and electronics because the shopper can easily spot the UPC and call us to perform the search.”

Do you hope to develop your own database of merchants or will you partner with a shopping comparison engine?
“We prefer to stay focused on our area of expertise, which is delivering information to the communication device of the user’s choice. We are establishing partnerships with comparison engines to extend the reach of their data to the mobile shopper.”

How do you plan to make money? Affiliate relationships? Advertising?
“A combination of different channels. Both affiliate relationships and advertisement are in our plans, as well as other types of partnerships.”

Is this just a test program to prove Millenigence CBU’s technology?
“No, this is not a test program. Millenigence is fully committed to making Frucall the number one brand for mobile comparison shopping.”

Are there other companies doing this?
“There are a few other companies or experiments with services that may seem similar to Frucall, but Millenigence is the only company with a commercial focus and established partnerships for promoting mobile comparison shopping. Early on in the process of building the service, we filed patents and we continue to see Frucall as a key area of fast growth and high demand in our Consumer Business Unit.”


Dulance Not Dead? Dulance And Google?

April 12, 2006

Update: Google acquired Dulance. See my post at SEW.
—————-

Techworld says that Dulance was acquired by Google and that Sergei Burkov, the CEO of Dulance, will run a new Google research center in Russia. I have no confirmation of this. I don’t know how strong the Dulance technology is. However, the idea of crawling for product data is gaining more and more momentum with Pronto, FatLens, and ShopWiki attracting attention (at least from me) because of the number of merchants these sites cover.

Relying on data feeds limits the comprehensiveness of shopping comparison engines (although as Preston Wily and I have said before, price floors are another reason for low comprehensiveness). Dulance, assuming the company had the technology to back up the idea, might have been a great buy for a shopping comparison engine which wasn’t yet concentrating on crawling, but will have to in order to compete with 2nd generation engines.

Thanks to Googlist for pointing out the TechWorld article.

Related Posts:
Dulance – The Long Tail – What Happens When You Move Past Feeds – July 20, 2005
Dulance – We hardly knew you – March 29, 2006
ShopWiki – CTO & Founder, Eliot Horowitz – March 30, 2006
InterActive Corporation’s (IACI) Pronto – April 4, 2006


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