The Top Ten Comparison Shopping Engines Compared

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The purpose of this study is to compare the best comparison shopping engines(or CSE’s) and see how they rank in terms of size/volume, cost, return rates, and overall service using in-house data using the following categories:

• overall traffic driven • average amount of revenue generated • COS (Cost of Sale) % or return on spend • average CPC rates • responsiveness rate among the engines • usefulness of merchant tools

  And for those of you who can’t possibly wait……

The Best Comparison Shopping Engines

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Our study involved accumulating data from Q1 of 2009 from a select number of our own clients focusing in soft goods (non-tech) accross a wide array of industries, sizes, and product lines in order to reduce engine bias as much as possible. It’s important to note that these are what we’ve deemed in our experience the best comparison shopping engines that our clients are listed on, out of literally hundreds of different engines out there. Google Base as it’s referred to in this study is known to many as “Google Product Search”, “Google Shopping”, and originally as “Froogle”, but all refer to the same product. Results will likely vary among individual merchants across specific engines, but this accumulative study should give a good idea of how the engines compare to each other, and which shopping engines are the best. Overall this should give merchants who aren’t yet on the comparison shopping engines, or those already on and looking to expand their campaigns a decent idea of what to expect.

Traffic (average clicks per month)

While getting a lot of traffic is not the primary goal of a (good) comparison shopping campaign, it’s desirable in that one can always cut products in order to reduce traffic and costs–whereas it’s much more difficult to force traffic onto a campaign on a smaller shopping engine. Our “big 4” definition of paid shopping engines is primarily derived here, as Shopzilla, Nextag,, and Pricegrabber are the primary traffic drivers to our merchants’ sites.

Revenue (average per month)

Next we look at average revenue generated by each shopping engine. While there’s a strong correlation between traffic that was brought in, since more traffic in theory should lead to more conversions, in our study Nextag pulls ahead of the pack due to their strong abilities to drive quality traffic to our merchants’ sites–but again each engine has the ability to drive a decent amount of revenue to each site.


COS % is a metric defiend as spend/revenue, and gives merchants an idea of the return that they’re getting for every dollar that they’re spending. Since all traffic generated off of Google Base is free, it tops our list here since all revenue comes at zero cost–while Microsoft’s Cashback was slightly behind it as it gives merchants the ability to set their own revenue share percentage (generally we find a range of 5-10% to be a good range to generate sales while keeping costs low–but enough to create incentive to buy). For many merchants this is the most important metric in a campaign as they generally seek to maximize the return on their spend–and as a result we’ve doubled the importance of this measurement within our study for our final rankings.

Average CPC

Google Base and Microsoft’s Cashback top our list here since their traffic is essentially “free”, while Become and Smarter, being two of the smaller shopping engines they have lower rates in order to allow them to compete with the larger engines since there is a higher demand in order to be listed on them.

Responsiveness Rating (ranking from 1-10, 1 being best)

1.   2.   3.   4.   5.  6.   7.   8.   9.   10.   As a merchant it’s very important to have good responsiveness times and feedback from the shopping engines in order to ensure that your campaign is going smoothly. As a full service comparison shopping management company, our account managers are constantly working with the various engines via e-mail/phone and have rated each of the comparison shopping engines in terms of their overall levels of responsiveness. Pricegrabber tops our list here due to their unmatched responsiveness levels, while Google Base is at the bottom this time due to their lack of having any true support system. You get what you pay for though right? Merchant Tools(ranking from 1-10, 1 being best)


2.   3.   4.   5.   6.   7.   8.   9.   10.   Finally we’ve ranked each shopping engine by the tools that they have in order to help the merchants run a successful campaign. For the sake of this study, for Google Base we used Google Analytics, which is a highly comprehensive tool which allows for custom reporting at all sorts of levels, and provides breakdowns that none of the shopping engines offer. We’ve also found that the larger engines generally offer a great tool set for merchants to work with, and in figuring out exactly where their money is being spent. Important features that we find most valuable include SKU/category level reporting, bidding systems, and overall user friendliness. ConclusionIn the end we ranked each comparison shopping engine by each of our metrics from 1-10 and assigning a point value for each category (10 being the highest), while doubling COS % making that out of a possible 20 points, summed it up, and got the following:

Engine Traffic Revenue Cos % Avg. CPC Responsive- ness Merchant Tools Total
Google Base 6 6 20 10 1 10 53
Nextag 9 10 12 2 5 7 45
PriceGrabber 8 7 10 1 10 8 44
Shopzilla 10 9 4 3 8 9 43
Shopping 7 8 14 5 2 6 42
Bing Cashback 1 1 18 9 7 5 41
Smarter 2 2 16 8 4 3 35
Yahoo 5 5 8 7 3 1 29
Become 4 4 2 6 9 2 27
Pronto 3 3 6 4 6 4 26

With its cost-free structure and highly regarded Google Analytics tool, Google Base is the best comparison shopping engine for online retailers, and see no reason at all why a merchant should not be listed on there. The next tier of shopping engines are all close together but all share the ability to generate plenty of traffic and exposure for a mechant’s products, which generally speaking is the main purpose of being listed on a comparison shopping engine. Final Thoughts Our goal entering this study was to find as non-biased a way to measure the effectiveness of all the comparison shopping engines, and our final rankings certainly reflect our subjectiveness attitudes toward the shopping engines. Google Base again is a no-brainer to be listed on, while being on Nextag, Pricegrabber, Shopzilla, and is also important for merchants looking to grow up their campaigns and getting as many sales from them as possible. The final tier of comparison engines included in our study, while not as major as traffic drivers to a merchant’s site, are also important to be listed on as complementary to the larger ones, and are especially appealing due to their generally lower cost per click rates. Again we should note that while there are many dozens of comparison shopping engines out there, and while each may be unique to listing specific products in particular categories, what we deem as the top 10 is a good start for any merchant looking to go on the comparison shopping engines, or in expanding their campaigns. — Blog Home Follow us on Twitter! RSS us