While I wasn’t invited this year, I’d still highly recommend ChannelAdvisor’s Catalyst Conference April 1-3, 2008. There will be a session on comparison shopping: Why, What, How? – Ask the Comparison Shopping Engines and representatives from the usual suspects (Amazon, eBay/PayPal, Google) will be in attendance.
Truthfully, Microsoft should pick up PriceGrabber, but MSFT is a bit busy these days with their frenemies at Yahoo.
So why IAC?
-Pronto has a solid base because it powers IAC’s Ask.com. The line in Pronto’s recent press release announcing ‘Pronto’s explosive traffic growth through the second half of 2007 coincides with its entree into the Social Shopping space’ is nice, but the reason for the growth is a mix of becoming Ask’s default shopping engine and aggressive keyword buying on the PPC engines. Pronto has room to grow in both those marketing channels, but adding PriceGrabber would allow it to tackle the third leg of a shopping engine’s traffic acquisition strategy: business development partnerships. PriceGrabber powers the comparison shopping functionality of hundreds of strong content sites. The addition of this partner network in conjunction with PriceGrabber’s established traffic base would quickly vault Pronto to tier 1 shopping engine status as opposed to a steady battle for growth through expensive PPC ads.
So is there any chance that this would happen?
-IAC has the money. And if the company really wants to play in the shopping search space, which I believe it does, buying PriceGrabber would considerably accelerate it’s growth. There are some big cultural issues to overcome, but I think if both teams sat down to look at their strengths, I think they’d realize this is a solid match.
Note: I did not talk to either party about this potential match.
With eBay’s fee changes, I’ve heard rumblings that at least one marketplace automation software program has been WAY under-reporting costs for sellers. Anyone experiencing this type of problem? I had assumed that the marketplace software programs were grabbing actual costs vs. estimating costs based on some internal table. As everyone knows, I’m not an eBay expert. Just digging around for some friends. Ina, have you heard anything? Thanks.
According to the press release, current Shopping.com CEO, Josh Silverman, is moving to sister company Skype, where he’ll be CEO.
Andre Haddad, currently a SVP at eBay, will become Shopping.com’s new CEO. Haddad joined eBay in 2001 after eBay acquired iBazar, a European online marketplace he co-founded.
I believe Haddad will be the 4th Shopping.com (after Dan Ciporin, Lorrie Norrington, and Josh Silverman) since
starting I started covering the shopping industry less than 3 years ago.
According to this Bloomberg article:
Experian Group Ltd., the world’s largest credit-checking company, said “lots of interest from private-equity and listed companies” in the PriceGrabber price- comparison Web site prompted it to consider selling the unit.
[thanks for the tip, Colin]
Now the interesting part is figuring out who the listed companies might be. Already fielded a couple calls on the subject this morning, and I’m truthfully having trouble pinpointing this one.
According to Reuters, PriceGrabber is up for sale.
PriceGrabber’s parent, Experian, had been hit hard by the credit crunch.
As explained by thisTelegraph article.
Experian’s problems are not of its making, though. Its most important clients are financial institutions who use the company’s services to vet prospective credit card and mortgage customers, for example. Because the banks are sharply scaling back their lending programmes, demand for Experian’s data is drying up.
From October 16, 2007 – January 16, 2008, Experian dropped aprx. 24% (here are historical prices). But the stock has rallied since that low to wipe out those losses over the last month (and is beating the DJIA and FTSE).
Not sure if the sale of PriceGrabber is meant to shore up Experian’s finances in the face of troubled times in the core business unit, but that hypothesis makes some sense. The question now is who would buy PriceGrabber. Need to think that one over.
Amazon sent a blast email out this morning announcing its Product Ads program.
I’ll have lots of comments on this before the end of the week, but I at least wanted to spread the news. With Amazon Product Ads, merchants can now list products on Amazon and drive consumers back to their sites as opposed to having to buy through Amazon. That’s a BIG change.
From the email
Product Ads is an advertising program designed to give customers seamless access to products available on web sites external to amazon.com. As a seller, you simply upload your catalog and set your cost-per-click bids. We will then display highly targeted ads for your items on select amazon.com product and search pages. Customers can click over to your web site and purchase the product directly from you. Product Ads uses a cost-per-click model, and there are no monthly fees. You only pay for clicks generated by your ads. You can manage how much you spend by setting a daily budget.
If you don’t buy a ton of PPC traffic, how do you get traffic to your shopping engine? One way is partnerships. But just saying you have a partnership is only the beginning. True partners actively promote each other.
Back in June 2007, TheFind announced a partnership with PayPal. It wasn’t clear at the time how much PayPal would promote its new shopping site, but they’ve been testing the waters. First with Back to School and then with Holiday shopping.
Well, it looks like PayPal is continuing to push the co-branded shopping site, this time, just in time for Valentine’s Day. I received an email from PayPal on Monday. I’d send you a link, but there wasn’t a ‘if you’re having trouble viewing this…’ link.
Here’s a snippet:
Clicking through, brings you to a not so pretty site (there are some major optimization opportunities), but it’s a first step. TheFind co-brand site is featured at the bottom of the page:
Not clear how these promotional activities are working, but you’d have to assume that both partners are happy if this is the third promo they’ve worked on together.