Shopwiki Shoutout @ Affiliate Summit

January 23, 2007

Publishers need detailed product data
The most successful publishers don’t use the product description fields
Data is power
CJ has 1700 advertisers
Kelly Pollard
kpollard@cj.com


Why I’m at Affiliate Summit 2007

January 22, 2007

Guess I should explain what I’m doing here…

I managed my first affiliate program back in 1999 for VarstiyBooks.com. During the bust, with my SEO and PPC knowledge in tow, I became a super-affiliate for a number of merchants. For a brief time in 2005, I unsuccessfully managed the Logoworks affiliate program.

I love affiliate marketing, because, as Michael Sanchez, CEO of ClubMom just explained, it’s all about performance marketing. Now anyone can back out a CPA or rev share number from a cost per click (CPC) campaign so you could argue that what the majority of the shopping engines are doing, charging merchants on a CPC basis, is fine. However, you quickly run into issues with merchants absolutely hating the shopping search engines because of low conversion rates. Merchants start whittling down their product list or more likely, merchants just give up on the channel (somewhat easy decision when Google Adwords is a much easier marketing channel to manage and can drive more volume).

Well, in this environment, it makes sense that you have Shopping.com testing out a revenue share system. It makes sense that Jellyfish is positioning itself as a cost per action (check out Wingo’s post and associated comments regarding Jellyfish and Shopzilla) network.

I’m definitely not saying that the shopping engines are going to change their revenue model overnight (and they can’t with big corporate parents depending on healthy revenue and profit), but there’s gotta be a lot of pressure. You have the CPA/RevShare model on one side and more comprehensive free shopping search on the other (ShopWiki, TheFind, etc.). Sure, Shopzilla is laughing all the way to the bank right now, but I’m confident their model will evolve considerably over the next 24 months.

So why am I here? Well, Shawn and Missy invited me (thanks!), but more to the point, the CPA/RevShare model is a powerful force in ecommerce and marketers love it. I was sitting next to a large multi-channel (stores, online, catalogs) marketing company in the keynote and spoke to him a little about his online marketing programs. Shopping comparison engines definitely is not the most beloved program he’s running. When your customers are not happy with your product – and there’s definitely a lot of tough love towards the shopping engines – there’s a great opportunity for someone else to innovate.


The Need for True Performance Marketing – Michael Sanchez, CEO ClubMom

January 22, 2007

affiliate summit club mom

Affiliate Summit…random notes from Michael Sanchez’s keynote. This is not verbatim and should just be used as a guide. Contact Michael for exact details.

Intro
-Michael started Clubmom in 1999. Andrew Shue (Melrose Place) also involved.
-Raised more than $50m in VC
-Bulk of business for first 5 yrs was a loyalty program – moms would shop, fill out surveys, get points and redeem them. Added 100s of millions of dollars in revenue for our partner companies. Over the last couple years, we’ve shifted online – community/social networking. A couple months ago we launched CafeMom – social network for moms. Growing like weeds.
-Shawn Collins (head of Affiliate Summit) ran the original ClubMom affiliate program. Paid affiliates about $5m throughout the years.

Web 2.0
-consumer is completely in control
-want to create and interact with their media
-must have a great product that consumers are excited about
-go fast, try stuff, repeat, iterate

Marketing 101
-reach the right person at the right time with the right message
-awareness –> consideration –> qualified lead –> transaction –> loyalty/usage

Affiliate
-pay per lead – LendingTree – one of the reasons it works is that they’re providing a lot of data to the lenders
-sites like Upromise doing really well for marketers/affiliates
-social networks – huge opportunity
-pay for performance is the holy grail, but too many affiliates are not driving quality traffic, sometimes affiliates/marketers are not aligned on true metrics

CafeMom
-social network for moms to connect with friends – old and new, express themselves
-new members are averaging 100-200 pv/member results in $25-$50 in revenue/yr

Conclusion
-consider testing several performance structure and incentives
–check out what Glam.com is doing
-get more data

$1m Challenge
-Will pay an affiliate $1m by Mother’s Day if they can drive true performance
–looking to test program for 2-3weeks
–might be for qualified leads, page views, provide more data, people who return within 72hrs


Robin Liss to Launch Reviewed.com

January 22, 2007

Speaking of reviews…

Robin Liss, the force behind CamcorderInfo and DigitalCameraInfo is set to expand her empire to cover more consumer electronics products. Her new site, Reviewed.com will be ‘a new consumer electronics review network that will revolutionize how people understand, shop for, and use the latest technology and consumer electronics.’

I don’t love when companies claim to be developing revolutionary services this day and age – they usually just end up being a mashup of stuff we’ve seen before – but I expect a strong offering from Robin and her crew.

Oh, and she’s looking for a Managing Editor for DigitalCameraInfo.


Wize Gets Funding

January 22, 2007

Congrats to the Wize team on their $4m round. I haven’t really followed these guys, Retrevo, or the hodgepodge of other review sites enough to intelligently comment on if there’s something really interesting and useful emerging in the reviews/research aggregation space, but I guess it’s another area to look into. There’s definitely something lacking with the basic 4 star reveiws of the shopping engines, but I’m not sure if Wize is the alternative/answer.

Here’s a featured Garmin StreetPilot C330 on Wize and the associated set of reviews on PriceGrabber and Froogle. Pretty good already.

And then there’s Become. If they’ve already figured out the crawling, how hard would it be to add an aggregated rating system?


Affiliate Summit, Shop.org, SearchSIG, ChannelAdvisor Catalyst

January 20, 2007

Where you’ll find me the next couple months…

Affiliate Summit – January 21 – 23: Delving into the affiliate model.
Shop.org First Look – January 31 – February 2: With CI, CA, Bazaar Voice, Performics, PriceGrabber, Power Reviews, Shopzilla, and Traffic Leader sponsoring and speaking, I’ve gotta be there…although I still need to find a hotel.
SD Forum Search SIG – Moderating Comparison Shopping Panel – Yahoo! Shopping will be there…still selecting the other companies.
Channel Advisor Catalyst – March 19 – 21: Moderating Comparison Shopping Panel…still selecting the panelists with MJ.

Thanks to Scot & MJ and Beach for thinking of me!


Shopzilla/Bizrate Emails – Golden Globe Award Winners

January 16, 2007

Update: Sorry about the disappearing post. Ran into problems with Flickr so went over to Photobucket, but that ended up messing up the WP formatting…went back to Flickr.

Shopzilla is the only shopping comparison engine to truly take advantage of email newsletters. Must be an incredible $$$ maker for Shopzilla.

Impressive that they put this together less than 24hrs after the Golden Globe awards were announced.

shopzilla golden globe email


Google Base – The Comparison Shopping Story of Q1 2007

January 12, 2007

I predict that Google Base refinement options on Google will be rolled out over the next 2 months. Yes, we’ve been waiting for this to happen for a while…and there were signs that the implementation would take place last quarter. I don’t know what’s causing the delay, but if I were Google, I wouldn’t have made any major changes during the holiday season…so it just makes sense that changes will start to show up now. Also, Google has been much better about kicking out eBay affiliates which were spamming Base and shutting down duplicate accounts (to the dismay of many many etailers – especially b/c both accounts are basically de-activated at once).

Even though smart search marketers have been giddy over Google Base for a while and have been using Froogle effectively for a year or 2 or 3, adding a Google Base search refinement option to Google.com will dramatically increase the visibility of the service (I love my obvious statements). I estimate that there are currently about 30,000 merchants actively submitting feeds to Google Base. That number could easily double as search marketing firms wake up to the opportunity and companies like SingleFeed announce full support of Google Custom Attributes.

But it’s not just Google Base that will be the story, it’s Google’s steady march toward supremacy of small and medium size merchants. Ok, I guess Google already is a leader in servicing small and medium sized businesses (in my estimates, aprx. 125K merchants – not affiliates – currently use Adwords), but the web it’s weaving with Google.com, Adwords, Base, Checkout, and Analytics is pretty awesome.

Base listings get premium placement on Google OneBox results. Adwords clients that support Checkout get higher clickthroughs (and therefore higher placement) because of that little shopping cart icon. Base users can already create individual Adwords ads for their listings on Base or through their feed and are being pushed to sign up for Adwords and Checkout. Checkout orders can be approved through Base. Adwords users have a tab for Analytics. Analytics automatically recognizes Adwords clicks. More merchants will adopt Google Checkout as credit card processing is free for 2007 and that $10 coupon for first time consumers is kicking ass for the merchants who have implemented it well (looking for a home improvement plumbing?).

I’ve said numerous times that Google Checkout is a wonderful and scary proposition for merchants However, I think that most small and medium sized merchants are short-sighted enough not to care. If they can increase sales tomorrow by implementing Checkout, they’ll do it. Google.com feeds Adwords. Google Base feeds Adwords. Analytics feeds Adwords. Checkout feeds Adwords.

I’ve never been a cheerleader for Google, but I have to admit that the Google (search), Adwords, Base, Checkout, and Analytics package is coming together better than I ever expected.

While Google has never confirmed or denied its numbers, my educated guess is that Adwords has aprx. 125,000 merchants (not affiliates), Base has aprx. 30,000 active merchants (active = submitted feed in the last 30 days), and Checkout has aprx. 1,000 merchants. As for Google search…a couple people using that. Analytics…not really sure. But imagine when Base refinement options show up on Google. As I said earlier, that could double the number of active merchants submitting feeds…which leads to more Adwords clients…which leads to more Checkout clients. This should also lead to more Analytics clients, although Google has a ways to go in educating merchants how to effectively use the Analytics software.

The debate over whether to use Checkout will go on in the hearts and blogs of people like myself as I still have major concerns about the lack of up-sell options and the idea that Google potentially controls the customer relationship, but I don’t think small and medium sized merchants are going to pay any attention. They see dollar signs and that’s it. I just really wish that these small guys would talk to a couple airlines about their excellent relationship with the GDSs.

I could have stopped this post after the first paragraph as that contains the main point – Google Base is going to be one of two huge stories in the comparison engines world in the next couple months. I hope merchants are paying attention and asking their data feed managers what they are doing to ensure feeds are optimized for Base. However, there’s a bigger picture in terms of how all Google’s properties in search and commerce are coming togetherintermingling…something to pay attention to as shopping engines continue to rely on Google Adwords crack, new entrants such as Shopwiki and TheFind figure out their place in the ecosystem, and all engines try to figure out how to deal with that little concept called loyalty.

Some screenshots (click to enlarge):
to share or not share your email?
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

pushing adwords and checkout in base
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

pushing adwords for base listings
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

analytics and adwords…the happy couple

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Related links:
Google Base Gets a Facelift – December 11, 2006
Conversion Tracking and Google Checkout – December 20, 2006
When Google Checkout Adoption for Merchants Makes Sense – November 8, 2006
Google Checkout Should Capture Small-to-Midsize Market by Jeff Molander – November 28, 2006


The buySAFE Revolution – 2007

January 4, 2007

I’ve been mulling over my initial post of 2007 as I think it sets the tone for the year (ok, maybe just for the week, but still…). Over the next month, I’ll review holiday shopping numbers for the shopping comparison engines and profile a bunch of players in the shopping ecosystem.

But I’ve decided to dedicate my first post of the year to buySAFE. eBay sellers know of buySAFE, but if buySAFE executes correctly, this company has the potential to become a major player in the ecommerce world by the 2007 holiday season. It’s not going to be an easy feat, but the company has already established the foundation for success.

For those of you who don’t know buySAFE, read this introduction and this follow up. In a nutshell, buySAFE guarantees ecommerce transactions, allowing consumers to buy with confidence (which I think should be the company’s tagline).

Over the last year, buySAFE has started to swim out of the relatively calm auction seas and into the rough oceans of website bonding. In the future, consumers will be able to go to Evogear, FlyingPeas, Froth Au Lait, A&E Security, ThrillingAudio, Dive Rite Express, Compasseco, Shortporch, or any of the estimated 250,000 non-eBay/Amazon Marketplace ecommerce sites and choose to bond their transactions during or post check out. If you’re BestBuy or Amazon or Tommy Hillfiger, you could care less. If you’re a lesser known small or medium sized business (which 98% of etailers are), though, the bonding service could significantly improve your store’s conversion rate and average order size. The company’s data for auctions demonstrates this – click on the links on this page or read this press release for more information.

Now the problem for buySAFE is that being one of the cool kids on the eBay block doesn’t mean much off of eBay. Running a big marketing plan targeting small businesses is possible, but those pesky small businesses are notoriously hard to reach. So what does the company do? It closes a business development deal or 3. Last June, the company announced its website bonding program and signed its first ecommerce partner, Zoovy. The idea is that it’s much easier to use the power of an ecommerce solution provider (aggregator) than go after individual etailers. Unfortunately, I can’t even find buySAFE mentioned on Zoovy’s site at this point. Ok, buySAFE is there, but hidden among a slew of partners.

Read the rest of this entry »


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