Continuing my praise for shopping engines which are helping consumers find deals, while Pronto doesn’t have the cute ‘X% off’ stars that you can find on Become or PriceGrabber, they do have a handy dandy tab which allows you to quickly filter by all Sale items. That’s the beauty of accepting a ‘Sale Price’ from merchants through the data feed. Nice to see almost all the shopping engines now pushing Sales/Deals in various ways.
Note to merchants: Fill in the Sale Price field in your data feed!
Note to Google Product Search: Add a Sale Price field!
Here’s a search for Mirrored Armoire on Pronto. That On Sale tab sticks out nicely!
This holiday shopping season is going to be rough. Deals/Sales/Cashback/Special Offers are all going to be key. If you’re a product manager at shopping engine X, ask yourself what you’re doing to promote savings. As I said in a post at the beginning of the year:
Unfortunately, the shopping engines have fought for years to be known as more than just price comparison engines. Reviews! Search! Cash back! Social shopping! Mobile! Safe shopping! Green! Well, all those things are nice and should be part of a strategy, but right now, this is the perfect opportunity for the shopping engines to step up their marketing efforts (or at least run some bold tests) highlighting the fact that they save consumers money.
Note: If you read the full post from the beginning of the year, take a look at Pronto’s current home page which emphasizes SAVINGS (best prices) vs. product discovery.
Once upon a time I owned http://www.paypalshopping.com. I’m not going to get into specifics of how or why I acquired the domain. Not important or relevant to this discussion. What you need to know is that about a year ago, I gave this URL to PayPal.
And sadly, they’re just redirecting it to www.paypal-shopping.com, which is a pretty crummy site.
As I hate to see a good thing go to waste, here are some ideas for PayPal:
-Redirect the URL to http://paypal.thefind.com/, which searches only PayPal stores. And then let them have some lattitude to test/track. TheFind has done a solid job on Bill Me Later Shopping. [Note to TheFind: the terms of service on BML Shopping still refer to Become.com]
-Give the URL to Shopping.com and tell them to do the same thing TheFind is doing with paypal.thefind.com. Less stores, but at least you’ll keep it in the family. And Shopping.com is making all their merchants switch to PayPal for billing, so you already know their merchants have accounts with PayPal.
-Give the URL to Shopping.com and tell them to create an Epinions clone (as they have at PriceTool).
-Jump on the Cashback bandwagon (Bing!) and copy paypalshopping.co.uk, which redirects to PayPal Offers.
-Just in time for the holiday shopping season, create an awesome coupon site and list offers from all your merchants.
-Give the site to a super affiliate like David Lewis who knows coupons and cashback and let him optimize the site.
-Give the site back to me.
As I said yesterday, in my post about getting ready for the holiday shopping season, I noticed changes not just @ PriceGrabber, but also @ Shopping.com. I’ll blog about it myself as well, but CSE Strategies also picked up on the changes. Here’s their coverage.
The shopping engines always change little things around, but it looks like they’ve all made (or are currently testing) some bigger UI changes the last couple weeks (ok, some of these are months old!) in preparation for the holiday shopping season. Most notably, I’ve seen changes on PriceGrabber and Shopping.com. I’ll highlight a couple PriceGrabber changes in this post and hit on SDC changes in another post.
1. Highlighting merchants on the search results pages. As opposed to having to click through to compare prices, consumers can now see the 3 lowest prices available (assuming there are three offers available). ShopWiki used to to the same exact thing, but actually changed their format since last I looked carefully. Merchants should definitely be aware of this change and monitor their results closely. From PriceGrabber’s perspective, I’m sure it’s a great way to increase # of clicks, but that doesn’ t mean the consumers clicking are more targeted than they would have been clicking from a compare prices page. Screenshots:
2. Highlighting more merchants on the search results page. Not only is PriceGrabber pushing merchants directly from the search results page on the right hand side, btu you can also mouse over a link that says ‘x sellers’ where x represents the number of sellers who offer the product and see a couple offers through a pop up without having to click through to the compare prices page.
3. Highlighting that consumers can SAVE MONEY. Pretty much an exact duplicate of what Become.com implemented a couple months ago, PriceGrabber now highlights % off numbers for consumers with a little red button on top of a product image.
4. Continuing the advertising theme from earlier today, PriceGrabber is now giving premium real estate to text advertisements on the compare prices page, right below the product description and above the merchant listings. In most of my clicking around, I found the same ad for AT&T. The ad seems to be completely unrelated to whatever product page you’re on, but it’s sorta subtle, so I guess no one is complaining.
5. I can’t figure out how to spawn these pop ups (they might just show up after a set amount of time), but PriceGrabber has added price alert pop ups to the compare prices page. I LOVE these ads…and yes, they are ads as they are ‘sponsored’ by an advertiser and include Google AdSense links. Brilliant way to generate some more page views and therefore more revenue. BUT, more importantly from a pure marketer’s perspective, I’ve always said that an in-house email list is like platinum because these are people who have at least expressed interest in your product/service and therefore are inclined to receive information from you. You’ll notice that PriceGrabber is also opting in all those who sign up for a price alert for the PriceGrabber newsletter. Nice!
Ok, there are many more changes, but those are some of the bigger UI ones that stand out.
All the shopping engines these days are loaded with ads – banners, buttons, and sponsorships.
And why not? If the shopping engines are getting 10-20M+ uniques per month, they should take advantage of that traffic and monetize their page views as much as possible, assuming that they are still providing a positive experience for the merchants listing products.
Shopzilla added banner ads to their pages last year and for the first time (I think), is pimping out its homepage for Walmart for back to school:
Become sent out a nice kit today discussing their sponsorship opportunities, many of which were big display media ads, but still inexpensive enough for the average merchant to take advantage of.
All the shopping engines have pushed credit card companies on the product pages and this year is no different, with PriceGrabber leading the charge with ads from Visa:
Words of caution for the average merchant interested in these sponsorships for Q4: track, track, track. And think of some of these opportunities as a branding exercise. Most of these ads are not sold on a PPC basis, but rather CPM. You might get some clicks, but I think that it’s more about getting your brand out there. This might have a side effect of boosting the click through rate (CTR) of your product listings on the shopping engines, but don’t count on it.
For years I’ve wanted to bring the shopping engines and merchants closer together. This new Yahoo! Group is an attempt to do just that: get the decision makers – big and small, merchant or shopping engine – in the same (virtual) room to discuss the most important topics, best practices, network, help each other out, and more.
This group will be moderated and access restricted to those who are serious about learning and helping others. This is not a group about selling your wares.
Sign up now by going to the Yahoo! Group today.
The long awaited deal between Yahoo! and Microsoft is done. You can find out all about the deal on the mini-site that Microsoft created. Besides hearing about disgruntled investors, you’ll read all about how this will or will not change the search war against Google.
Here are the main points as summarized at Search Engine Land:
-Microsoft will acquire an exclusive 10 year license to Yahoo!’s core search technologies, and Microsoft will have the ability to integrate Yahoo! search technologies into its existing web search platforms [Note from Danny Sullivan: Exclusive suggests Yahoo itself won't be able to use the technology or develop it, which means after 10 years, what's left probably isn't that useful]
-Microsoft’s Bing will be the exclusive algorithmic search and paid search platform for Yahoo! sites. Yahoo! will continue to use its technology and data in other areas of its business such as enhancing display advertising technology.
-Yahoo! will become the exclusive worldwide relationship sales force for both companies’ premium search advertisers. Self-serve advertising for both companies will be fulfilled by Microsoft’s AdCenter platform, and prices for all search ads will continue to be set by AdCenter’s automated auction process.
-Each company will maintain its own separate display advertising business and sales force.
-Yahoo! will innovate and “own” the user experience on Yahoo! properties, including the user experience for search, even though it will be powered by Microsoft technology. [Note from Danny: AOL used similar words about how it would somehow make Google-powered search "better" despite not owning the technology. People still went to Google].
While Yahoo! will still concentrate on some of it’s great properties like Finance or News, the deal says nothing about what happens with Yahoo! Shopping. The problem I see is that Cashback is a core part of Bing, and therefore I’m not sure that cutting Cashback listings out of a Bing search experience would make sense to Microsoft. That would be like cutting off one of Bing’s 4 legs…although with this deal, Bing just got a couple new legs that don’t depend on a $100m advertising effort. So, something to think about going forward (realize that going forward is 1yr+ away).
I’d currently vote to keep Yahoo! Shopping as it’s a small group that makes a boatload of cash. However, Bing is onto something with its cashback efforts – especially in this troubled economy – so perhaps there is a hybrid opportunity in the future. I often hate the hybrid model because it can confuse users and merchants, but merchants have pulled back their listings on the shopping engines and are excited to take advantage of a CPA model (yes, CPC numbers can be backed out to CPA numbers, but CPA is just easier to grok and lower risk to basic merchants). Or if Google Product Search goes to an affiliate or cashback model and Yahoo! Shopping is forced along this route, I’m sure Bing will be there waiting to assist.