@ PubCon & SES Chicago, NOT @ Ad-Tech

October 31, 2006

A little change of plans…

I won’t be attending ad-tech next week in NYC.

I will be attending PubCon Nov. 14 – Nov. 17.

I will be attending SES Chicago Dec 4 – Dec 7. And I think I’ll be a bigger part of the shopping search session…assuming I’m allowed to jazz it up (much more interactive, lots of prizes) this year. Seriously. Proposed a lot of new ideas (game show, live optimization, etc.) to Allan Dick, the man with the tubs. Any suggestions, please send them my way.

Also, if anyone has suggestions of where I should speak next year, please let me know. Thanks!


Smarter Launches Visual Search Beta

October 31, 2006

Hot on the heels of Become launching its color search offering, Smarter today launched Visual Search Beta. Right now I’m just going to discuss the basics. I might follow up on the technology behind the offering at a later date.

Visual search can be found by clicking on the Clothing & Accessories tab or by searching for any product within that section. Right now Visual Search Beta is a bit hidden as the consumer has to click on a small link under the header.

When Paul Willmes of Smarter walked me through Visual Search, I was happy to find that Smarter took a different approach than ShopWiki and Become. This feature is all about clothing. Users select gender, then a top (shirt, sweater, etc.) and bottom (pants, shorts, etc.), then choose the color for each.

Smarter.com Visual Search

Smarter Visual Search then returns two bands of products (the top on top, the bottom on bottom) so users can see what the products might look like together. The searcher can easily scroll through the listings to see more choices.

Smarter Visual Search

This is a good start for Smarter, but to make the feature truly useful for consumers, Smarter needs to add the ability to view selected products together…click on a top and a bottom and then view the 2 products together in a separate window without store, pricing, and descriptive information in the way.

But that’s just the first piece of the puzzle as a user can’t easily buy the two products together. Even if the products are sold by the same merchant, a user has to click through, put the first product in a cart, then toggle back to Smarter, repeat the process, then close 3 browser windows. Not the smoothest operation. Without a universal shopping cart feature (which I’m not at all recommending Smarter.com tackle), things get ugly pretty quickly.

At the end of the day, I think consumers will welcome Smarter’s Visual Search tool. It’s how people shop for clothing. Eventually, Smarter’s tool should extend to shoes, hats, handbags, and other accessories.

As for merchants in the Clothing & Accessories category, I think the tool will drive more clicks. And conversion? I’m not sure what happens. Part of me thinks that conversion goes up because searchers will better understand what the potential ensemble looks like and therefore be more apt to buy…however this feature could also just lead to more browsing and less buying.

Would love to hear from some clothing retailers on this one…

Related Posts:
Become Adds Search By Color – October 19, 2006
A Different Way To Shop – September 8, 2006
Riya (launching soon) – September 7, 2006
Kaboodle Collage – August 29, 2006
ShopWiki Shop By Color – June 14, 2006


Yahoo! Celebrates Halloween

October 30, 2006

I’ve been writing the Shortcuts/SmartAnswers/OneBox/Instant Answers series for SearchDay. I think my Yahoo! Shortcuts piece is coming out tomorrow. Just ran across Yahoo! Celebrates Halloween 2006.

Love the integration of local, editorial, shopping, movies, music, games, Yahooligans, and Flickr!

Found the site by searching for Halloween. Why didn’t Yahoo! publicize this more?


Google Base Listings Almost Here?

October 29, 2006

After my post last week and Ina Steiner’s echoing of my thoughts yesterday, Garrett Rogers of ZDNet found this product search integration on Google.


$$$

October 26, 2006

When I ‘signed’ on to be a correspondent for SEW, I said that I wouldn’t be paid.

Well, if no one has any objections, I’m going to take a very small fee for the work I do for Danny and Chris. I don’t think this will cloud my objectivity as I will still write what I want when I want, but please let me know if you have any concerns.

In related news, Danny signed on to continue working with Incisive on Search Engine Strategies through 2007.

Oh, and in case you missed it, there’s a great series over at SearchDay (no, I’m not biased!) about Ask Smart Answers, Microsoft Instant Answers, Yahoo! Shortcuts, and Google OneBox.


Google Base or Froogle? Google Base…sort of

October 26, 2006

The Google Base Guide (from the Google Base Help Discussion Group) “strongly suggest[s] that you update your Bulk Uploads to include the new Google Base attributes. Doing so will not only help to ensure that your bulk uploads process correctly, but will also add additional structure to your data,” according to the post from October 23.

While I switched to the Google Base attributes back in July (a month after Google recommended to do so) and have been recommended the same for all merchants, I’m not sure this has been the best advice.

Unfortunately, the Product Search OneBox results at the top of Google’s main search engine results page (SERP) lists Froogle items, not Google Base items. In other words, all the work everyone has done to switch to the Google Base format and optimize for Google Base is great, but Google Base gets no traffic. Merchants who didn’t make the change have been much better off.

So the question to the Google Base Guide is…when are the Google OneBox results going to reflect Google Base listings as opposed to Froogle listings? News came out of the PESA meeting in SF last month that Google would start pushing Base listings, but so for, I haven’t seen any changes. And in case you weren’t sure…the holiday shopping season is here…now.


Become Adds Search By Color

October 19, 2006

It’s great to see companies adding cool, innovative features in the shopping space!

First it was Etsy, then it was ShopWiki, now Become has entered the search by color arena. And we had a strong release from TheFind today and expect Riya and another hot little shopping site (very stealth) to hit the web soon.

But this is a post about Become…

Become shop by color

Test it out for yourself. Do a shopping search for ‘dress‘, ‘handbag‘, or ‘seven jeans‘ and then click on a color to get started. Simple. I’ll follow up with Become soon to get the scoop on the technology behind the service…or John, if you’re reading, feel free to comment.

Official release comes out next week. Congrats on the launch, Become…and btw, the shop by color feature looks nice with your new design!

Related Posts:
ShopWiki – Shop By Color – June 14, 2006
Kaboodle Collage – August 29, 2006
Mobile Commerce Update – GPShopper & Channel Intelligence, Frucall, Neven Vision & Google, Riya, and Scanbuy – September 7, 2006 (check out the part on Riya)
A Different Way To Shop – September 8, 2006


TheFind Beta Launches

October 19, 2006

Check out TheFind Beta. Congrats to Siva and his team!

I’m excited about the concept of TheFind as comprehensiveness has been a pet peeve of mine since I first talked to Sergei Burkov at Dulance. One problem with Shopzilla, Shopping.com, NexTag, etc. is that these guys work off of a CPC model. To play, the merchant has to pay. Unfortunately, this automatically cuts down on the comprehensiveness of these engines as merchants are forced to remove low margin/low cost items from their feeds.

Shopwiki, Windows Product Search Live, and TheFind don’t charge for inclusion and crawl the web for products as opposed to working predominantly through feeds.

However, playing devils advocate for a moment (as I’m sure my friends at Shopzilla, Shopping.com, and PriceGrabber will have plenty of comments for me today) comprehensiveness isn’t everything. Relevance is another BIG piece of the puzzle.

Testing out TheFind…
A search for Polo Jeans didn’t exactly bring up what I expected. And the first result for red sweater, a $525 mens designer sweater from Bluefly which is ‘not currently available’, didn’t really delight me. Oh, and a search for nintendo wii returned a Super Mario Galaxy Badge before the Wii AND TheFind returned a price of $249 from Pandora’s Cube when Pandora’s Cube indicated a price of $599. 0 for 3. If Jose Reyes of the Mets had played like that last night, I wouldn’t have been able to function this morning.

So take a look…the problems you find will be addressed. TheFind is well funded and has a smart team on board…and it doesn’t hurt that the site is searching over 500,000 stores and finding over 150,000,000 products.


CPC Rate Adjustment Day – NexTag and PriceGrabber

October 18, 2006

Within hours of each other, NexTag and PriceGrabber both announced rate hikes for the holiday season.

Here are the details:
NexTag – 25% increase across all categories effective November 2
PriceGrabber – 20% increase across all categories effective November 1

This follows Shopping.com’s announcement last week of a 20% increase across all categories effective November 1.

All engines claim that conversion rates increase during the holiday shopping season…makes some sense as browsers turn into buyers…but the other reason for these rate increases is that these engines have to cover their higher costs on Google Adwords and Yahoo! Search Marketing.


Google Base Down

October 17, 2006

Update: Ok, I’ll give Google Base a little credit. They did warn people in the Google Base Help Discussion Group…I just wasn’t signed up to get updates every day (it’s not that active a group). So where’s the Google Base Guy? I discovered this on my own…you should have been all over me!
——–

I’d like to be given at least a little warning…even if it is a free service.

Google Base


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