A Little More about the Redesign

December 27, 2007

Thanks for the comments on the redesign (and a big shout out to Matt @ eCopt for the in-depth review)!

I thought it was important to explain my intentions with the new look and feel.

It was time for a change. Eric Hwang, a colleague from years back (now at Pronto) designed the original site which launched in May 2005 (yes, ComparisonEngines.com is 2.5yrs old!). But 2.5 years is a long time and the site was missing a three key components:
1) emphasis on comments
2) a smart way to bring ME into the picture
3) a smart way to incorporate the other sites I run

The new emphasis on comments is extremely important because my hope from the start was to create a forum for people to disucuss the industry. There are a number of people who now comment regularly, but it’s only a small fraction of the readership. That will always be the case, but I think I can do a bit better with a more comment friendly interface. In the old design, there was no way to quickly view recent comments. Someone would say something insightful but no one would know about it. My hope with the new site is that more people will be excited about commenting and then even more people will respond to those comments (joining in and furthering the discussion).

I know many reps from the shopping engines read ComparisonEngines.com. I’d love for you to join in the discussion as well. Some engines have gently discouraged their employees from commenting on ComparisonEngines. Some engines are scared that they’ll be flamed for their involvement. Some engines just don’t like me. But we’re in a new age where it’s time for companies to get involved in the conversation as opposed to trying to control it. Yes, we all have competitors. And yes, we all have legal departments and corporate parents to consider, but think about this opportunity. You have a chance to join the discussion and engage influencers who can better your business.

So take note of the Recent Comments. Take note of the link to the comments at the top of each blog post. And expect comments to be highlighted in additional ways in the near future.

Yes, it’s all about me, me, me! Well, not exactly. Why is my mug shot (ok, headshot – taken by Joanne Brooks) up there? First and foremost, I was freaked out by people thinking I was some 40-something recluse! (I’m only kind of kidding!). It really comes down to me wanting to make this site a little more personal. As opposed to most blogs, I don’t regurgitate press releases. I speak my mind. I share my random musings. I want to do more of that. It’s what gets me in trouble, but I think it’s part of what gives this site personality. So expect to see and hear more of ME.

Branding Brian Smith is also just plain smart business. And that’s what I’m building, a business…

Integration of other Comparison Ventures, Inc. sites
I run a venture backed data feed management, data feed submission, and data feed optimization company called SingleFeed. I run a data feed optimization blog called LoveYourFeed. These ‘properties’ are part of the Comparison Ventures, Inc. family. I’ve never hidden this fact, and I never will. I like what Reviewed.com did with their Ethics and Independence Pledge, and might do something similar.

If I hadn’t started ComparisonEngines, I wouldn’t have figured out that there was an opportunity to help merchants submit feeds to the shopping engines. Without SingleFeed, I couldn’t afford to continue to write ComparisonEngines. Without LoveYourFeed, I couldn’t have engaged as many merchants in a discussion about data feed optimization. These sites feed off of each other. In the end, without the data feed knowledge acquired through managing, submitting, and optimizing hundreds of feeds, discussing the industry with shopping engines, merchants, job seekers, analysts, bloggers, and press, and figuring out the quirks of data feed optimization, I wouldn’t be valuable to anyone.

I will use ComparisonEngines.com as a lead generation tool for SingleFeed and LoveYourFeed. However, I will also discuss my competition. I am very open and honest about SingleFeed. Sometimes we’re not the right fit for a merchant. I often make recommendations and introductions to our competition. ChannelAdvisor, Channel Intelligence, Mercent, Performics, MerchantAdvantage, and FeedPerfect are also listed under the Data Feeds section (on the sidebar). If merchants do their research, they will look at all these companies before making a decision.

As for other features…
-Check out the categories. I have about 900 posts to retroactively categorize, so don’t expect every category to be fleshed out, but this should make it much easier to find articles related to a certain topic.
-Search is still front and center (well right and center).
-The emphasis of the blog is still the content.
-I’ve added the ShareThis Widget. Digg a post. Email a post to a friend. There are a couple kinks to work out, but this should make it easier to spread the word.

I’ll be testing other widgets and design elements, but I’m liking the basic elements. Again, thanks for the feedback thus far. Keep the comments coming.

One last look at the old design…

ComparisonEngines old design

ComparisonEngines.com Redesign

December 24, 2007

Will be working out the kinks over the next couple weeks, but would love to hear what you think of the redesign. Notice the emphasis on comments…so go ahead, comment away!


Happy Holidays!

Accoona’s Buyer’s Edge

December 23, 2007

buyer's edge logo

According to Paid Content, Accoona pulled its IPO because of ‘unfavorable market conditions’.

I just glanced at the prospectus to find out a bit more about Buyer’s Edge, Accoona’s shopping comparison engine. Accoona purchased Buyer’s Edge for $5m. According to the document, Accoona only had 269 merchants registered as of May 30, 2007. I believe Buyer’s Edge supplements those merchants with Shopping.com listings.

Here are some relevant passages from the Accoona S-1:

a database of over 300,000 consumer products with features, specifications, images, and descriptions organized by category and subcategories. We supplement data on these 300,000 products through a syndication arrangement with a third-party, which also provides us with information on an additional 2.2 million products. This gives BuyersEdge access to information on over 2.5 million products;

As of May 30, 2007 there were over 269 merchants registered to use the BuyersEdge site
BuyersEdge also partners with other shopping comparison engines such as Shopping.com to further sell-through of click inventory and maintain a rich offering of product categories for consumers.

During March 2006, BE Comparison Corp. was incorporated as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Accoona to acquire the assets and assume certain liabilities of Internet Media Group, LLC (d/b/a BuyersEdge) (“BuyersEdge”). BuyersEdge is in the business of comparison shopping over the Internet. The acquisition consummated by BE Comparison Corp. was accounted for using the purchase method with an effective date of April 1, 2006.

BuyersEdge recognizes revenue from its shopping comparison engine as services are rendered. BE Comparison Corp’s revenue amounted to $202,938 and $-0- for the three months ended March 31, 2007 and 2006, respectively.

BuyersEdge recognizes revenue from its shopping comparison engine as services are rendered. BE Comparison Corp’s revenue amounted to $818,712 from April 1, 2006 (date of acquisition) to December 31, 2006.

On March 15, 2006, pursuant to the BuyersEdge Asset Purchase Agreement (“Asset Purchase Agreement”), Accoona created a wholly owned subsidiary for the acquisition of the assets and assumptions of certain liabilities of BuyersEdge for which it paid $5,000,000. BuyersEdge is in the business of providing Internet comparison shopping and related services. The acquisition was consummated by Accoona by creating a wholly owned subsidiary, BE Comparison Corp. and placing the assets and liabilities into it.

Comparison Shopping for a President on PriceGrabber

December 23, 2007

If we comparison shop for products, online education, travel, and mortgages, why not presidential candidates?

And according to PriceGrabber, Bill Richardson is my man.

PriceGrabber Election 2008

Answer a bunch of multiple choice questions through Candidate Match, covering issues related to foreign policy, national security, the economy, social/healthcare, and science/environment, and PriceGrabber will tell you which candidate is your best match. The only thing that’s missing is an ability to weight a certain issue – if national security is more important to you than science/environment, then that could change which candidate is your perfect match (and in case you were wondering, Bill Richardson is not my perfect match…but PriceGrabber was close).

You can also rate and discuss candidates.

As we step into the election year, I’m sure PriceGrabber will get some great buzz because of this addition.

Shopping.com Encouraging Users to Click on AdSense Ads

December 21, 2007

Last weekend Shopping.com encouraged its users to click on AdSense ads.

Here are examples for a couple searches. Notice the big SEE SITE buttons next to the ads:

Shopping.com AdSense

Shopping.com AdSense

According to my read of the Google’s AdSense Policy, Shopping.com’s actions are in violation of that policy:

In order to ensure a good experience for users and advertisers, publishers may not request that users click the ads on their sites or rely on deceptive implementation methods to obtain clicks. Publishers participating in the AdSense program:

* May not encourage users to click the Google ads by using phrases such as “click the ads,” “support us,” “visit these links,” or other similar language
* May not direct user attention to the ads via arrows or other graphical gimmicks
* May not place misleading images alongside individual ads
* May not promote sites displaying ads through unsolicited mass emails or unwanted advertisements on third-party websites
* May not compensate users for viewing ads or performing searches, or promise compensation to a third party for such behavior
* May not place misleading labels above Google ad units – for instance, ads may be labeled “Sponsored Links” but not “Favorite Sites”

When I asked Shopping.com about this, they said that their “relationship with AdSense is confidential.”

Does this mean that Google AdSense sanctioned this test? I figured that this was just a programmer error, but that’s obviously not the response that I got.

So I’ll put it to my readers:
1. Is this a violation of Google’s AdSense Policies?
2. Is this a good user experience or is this just tricking the users into clicking on a link. The SEE SITE buttons Shopping.com posted next to the AdSense ads are the same ones they use for product listing results:
shopping.com adsense

A Holiday Gift for Me

December 20, 2007

Have you found ComparisonEngines.com a valuable resource?
Have I given you an idea about how to grow your business?
Have I infuriated you so much that you now rue the day you found ComparisonEngines?
Have I put a smile on your face?
Did I help you in your job search?
Did I help you tune your financial forecast for a company?
Did I help you make an informed investment decision?

If you answered YES to any of the above questions, please consider making a donation (or getting your company to make a donation) to one of the following organizations:

Hope for Henry Foundation
-Hope for Henry brings smiles and laughter to kids in not so bright or funny situations. I know the founders of the organization. I knew Henry for a short time. I worked with Henry’s father years ago. I trust that even a $10 donation (two trips to Starbucks) would go to good use. You can make an online donation right now.

Donor’s Choose
-Donor’s Choose allows teachers to post proposals for funding. There are proposals as simple as getting books for all the students. I went to high school with Charles Best, the CEO and Founder of the organization. I trust that even a $10 donation (two trips to Starbucks) would go to good use. You can make an online donation right now by choosing a specific proposal or letting Donor’s Choose choose for you.


Happy Holidays!

Banners Ads Coming Soon to ShopZilla

December 17, 2007


I’ve been waiting a while for Shopzilla to start displaying graphical ads (banners)…seems like that day might be just around the corner. There’s currently a job posting on Shopzilla for an Online Ad Traffic Coordinator:

The Online Ad Traffic Coordinator will interact with ad serving and web technologies to execute ad insertion orders per specifications and monitor delivery of multi-faced ad campaigns to ensure successful execution. In this position, the Online Ad Traffic Coordinator will partner with the Banner Ad Sales Director to provide inventory availability, traffic creative from agencies and clients, and assist in banner proposals and request for proposals. Keeping abreast of the future of online advertising, providing support for our sales efforts and helping enhance Shopzilla’s relationships by providing exceptional service is necessary for the success of this position.

With Shopzilla’s redesign focusing more on product discovery, the company has the potential to make a pretty penny from online ad sales. This is a no-brainer for the company. I just hope that they don’t make the page about the banner ad…there’s still amazing potential for product search.


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