12 Mar 2014

A Look at Comparison Shopping Engines for Ecommerce

There’s a lot to like about comparison shopping engines (CSEs). They increase your store’s visibility, attract new customers and best of all, boost your sales.

CSEs are effective because:
  • CSEs influence 50% of online shopping decisions.
  • 94% of online shoppers invest time to find the best price and 65% of online shoppers spend 15+ minutes comparing products on CSEs before making a purchase.*
  • CSE shoppers tend to be motivated buyers - they are more likely to make a purchase. 

*Reflects generally accepted statistics averaged from various resources as: CPC Strategy, Forrester Research, Internet Retailer, MerchantAdvantage, and Practical eCommerce

1. Google Product Listing Ads (Paid)

Google Shopping is one of the biggest and most popular shopping engines around. To utilize it, you’ll need to use two platforms: Google’s Merchant Center and Google’s AdWords. In the Merchant center, you’ll manage all of your products. In your AdWords account, you’ll manage your Product Listing Ads (PLAs), set a daily budget and adjust bids.
Once submitted, your ads can be seen both in regular search results and on Google’s shopping site. Plus, Google Shopping is available in multiple countries such as the UK, Germany, France, Japan, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Brazil, Australia and Switzerland.

Easitill's back office system has an export function we have written to export your ecommerce data in a Google Feed format to be uploaded to your Google Merchant Centre account.

Pros of Google Product Listing Ads:

  • They have a 21% higher click-through rate than text ads
  • No minimum bids, making it ideal for those with smaller budgets
  • Free to include a marketing message, such as “Next Day Delivery”

Cons of Google Product Listing Ads:

  • Must manage two platforms (Merchant Center and AdWords) to run your shopping feeds
  • Strict guidelines on data quality leading up to account suspension
  • CPCs rates have increased by 53% compared to last year

Insider tips on Google Product Listing Ads:

  • Avoid watermarked images
  • Don’t use all uppercase product titles
  • Avoid using “free shipping” in your product descriptions

2. Amazon Product Ads (Paid)

You probably know that you can sell on Amazon via Amazon Marketplace. But did you know you can also advertise with Amazon Product Ads? These product ads are shown to Amazon’s 44 million customers each month in many places, including the Detail Page, Search and Browse, Tower Ads and Buy Box. To have your ads displayed, you have to set up a Seller Central account and have a daily budget and minimum bids.

Pros of Amazon Product Ads:

  • Allows products that can’t be listed in Amazon Marketplace
  • Provides suggested bids to help you bid wisely
  • Has an easy bidding system where the products are divided based on product categories, with three different price ranges in each category

Cons of Amazon Product Ads:

  • It’s one of the most costly sites to list your products, but it is also has high traffic and could be worth the cost for the right merchant.
  • No control over which categories your products are submitted to
  • Stricter content requirements than Amazon Marketplace
  • Automatically decides the type of ad placement: All or Targeted

Insider tip on Amazon Product Ads

  • Increase visibility and reach the most relevant customer by using up to five keywords that best describes each product
  • If you’re new to Amazon Product Ads, you can get £50 in free clicks by signing up

3. Nextag (Paid)

Nextag is popular for helping shoppers find great deals on products, event tickets, real estate, travel tickets and coupons. It gets 30 million unique visitors every month and is also available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Spain.

To list your ads on Nextag, you need a monthly budget and minimum bid for all categories. It also has three traffic-driving programs you can take advantage of: Display Rank, Merchant Logo and Marketing Message.

Pros of Nextag

  • You can collect reviews from customers once the sale is completed to increase credibility
  • ROI Optimizer helps easily track sales and conversion rates on the Nextag website
  • You can create complex shipping rules using the advanced interface

Cons of Nextag

  • Uses a bid ranking program to display products – the higher the bid, the better the position
  • Monthly budget is consumed faster. Products are displayed to qualified traffic in an accelerated manner instead of being spread across a day or month
  • Promotional marketing message costs anywhere from $0.05 to $0.10 based on the category

Insider tip on Nextag

  • Set Max CPC bids on your best selling products to beat your competition and get the highest rank possible

4. Shopping.com (Paid)

Shopping.com is part of the eBay commerce network and has 8 million online purchasers every month. You can advertise your products using targeted ad placements on Shopping.com and its partner websites such as  Bing. When you do, customers will see product details such as title, price, image and shipping details along with product reviews and ratings.
Shopping.com works on a monthly budget (minimum of £100 to get started) and offers free optimization tools such as an ROI Tracker and Survey Tool. In terms of your international reach, you can advertise in the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Australia.

Pros of Shopping.com

  • You can see your competitors’ top bids
  • It works on a value-based pricing model – bids are adjusted based on the quality of traffic
  • Free ROI tracker provided to measure performance and conversions

Cons of Shopping.com

  • Automatic payment plan requires linking to PayPal account; no credit cards allowed
  • No product level bidding
  • No promotional marketing messages allowed

Insider tip on Shopping.com

  • Sign up with Google AdWords to get listed in the Shopping.com “Sponsored listings” section

5. Shopzilla (Paid)

Shopzilla, known for helping shoppers find unique retailers and sales, has over 100 million products listed and 20 million unique monthly visitors.  If you advertise on Shopzilla, be sure to have a monthly budget and minimum CPCs for various categories, and be aware that it rates businesses to help consumers make their purchasing decisions.
Being on Shopzilla also means you get featured in Bizrate and Beso.com, and can advertise products in the UK, France and Germany. Plus, you’ll be able to list your coupons for free at RobotOatmeal.com.

Pros of Shopzilla

  • You can bid at three levels: Category, Sub-category and Product level
  • It uses a smart pricing model where CPC is adjusted based on the traffic quality
  • You’re charged $0.01 more than the next highest bid in a given subcategory

Cons of Shopzilla

  • Products are categorized as “Catalog” and “Non-catalog” based on manufacturer SKU availability
  • A minimum bid of $4 is required for all products
  • Product ads are shown quickly and removed once the monthly spending cap has been reached

Insider tip on Shopzilla

  • Send images that are at least 200×200 pixels and less than 1000×1000 pixels

6. Pricegrabber (Paid)

Pricegrabber compares product prices and offers weekly specials, coupons and top searches, making it easy to boost your business’ visibility. It has 26 million active users, can be used by Canadian and UK-based businesses and, as an added bonus, has partnered with Yahoo! Shopping to show its listings.
To get started on Pricegrabber, you should have a monthly budget and minimum CPCs for your products. And fun fact: Pricegrabber allows you to specifically target Spanish-speaking customers.

Pros of Pricegrabber

  • No minimum bids
  • Offers three bidding source options: bid via feed import, bidding tool, CPC rate card value
  • Has a variety of media options to garner more attention: Banner Placements, Featured Merchant, Featured Products and Category Showcase

Cons of Pricegrabber

  • Ad Spend/Budget is consumed more rapidly since ads are shown in an accelerated manner to qualified traffic
  • No daily budget to control how much you spend in a day
  • Have to pay a minimum of £.10 to display your logo on your ad, in addition to a minimum ad spend of £500

Insider tip on Pricegrabber

  • Submit the same feed file as the one created for Google Shopping

7. TheFind (Free)

TheFind is a free comparison shopping engine that requires no advertising spend. It’s primarily a discovery shopping engine that has over 500 million products and 25 million visitors. In addition to submitting your products for free, you can also submit your products to TheFind by creating a Merchant account. Plus, they have an Upfront Merchant program which can help you gain more visibility and highlight your products in their results.
10csesthefind The Top 10 Comparison Shopping Engines for Ecommerce And How To Succeed On Each

Pros of TheFind

  • This engine is free, hence no bidding or budget
  • Accepts the same feed file as the one accepted by Google Merchant Center
  • Free to upgrade to be an Upfront Merchant

Cons of TheFind

  • TheFind has to crawl your website before displaying products on its site
  • ROI tracking is not provided
  • Reporting functionality isn’t available

Insider tip on TheFind

  • Send larger images to gain better placement

Although these CSEs are great for business, you’ll want to pick the ones that best suit your needs and budget. Before you start, be sure to research which products you’re allowed to advertise on each engine and its specific feed specification requirements.