The Comparison Shopping Report – Q4 2010




Author | Tien

The purpose of The Comparison Shopping Report is to compare the major comparison shopping engines and see how they rank.

What’s New

  • The Q4 rankings here look at the most competitive time of the year amongst not just merchants but for the shopping engines as well.
  • The varying CPC rate increases proved to be crucial this quarter, with each engine utilizing different strategies across the board.
  • Smarter was left off the last list in favor of the free engine TheFind which is gaining considerable traction due to them offering more than just a traditional shopping engine, including social media tools and local search abilities.
  • We created a special edition of the rankings which  looks specifically the period from Black Friday all the way up to Christmas day. It can be found by clicking here.

For a more in-depth look at our methodology, feel free to take a look at our original comparison shopping report which provides further details into the sections below.

Here are the criteria we use to rank the CSE’s:

Our study is based directly from our merchants’ data and how they performed on the CSE’s. We aggregate and calculate how each engine performed against its competitors and present them based on the following criteria:

  • Overall traffic driven
  • Average amount of revenue generated
  • Conversion rate
  • COS (Cost of Sale) % or return on spend
  • Average CPC (cost-per-click) rates
  • Responsiveness rate among the engines
  • Quality of merchant tools

For the first two categories, the results are based on an index of 100, with the rest expressed as a percentage of the leader.

A few things to note in order to avoid confusion:

  • “Google” refers to Google Product Search and does not consider Google’s organic listings or their paid offerings like Adwords or Product Listing Ads
  • Similarly, Bing Shopping refers to just the shopping portal that Bing offers, and not Bing the shopping engine
  • Amazon Product Ads is a separate entity from the Amazon Marketplace. The primary difference is that Product Ads lead a customer off of Amazon’s site, whereas on the Marketplace the purchases are made directly on Amazon’s site

Traffic

comparison-shopping-traffic-q42010

Google Product Search takes the early lead here by a healthy margin over the rest of the comparison shopping engines. With a lot of holiday shoppers beginning their search on the search engine, many will find what they’re looking for directly on Google and end their search there.

The biggest jump here was by Amazon, which since introduced has gone from a 2nd-tier engine in terms of traffic driven to our 2nd most trafficked engine period this quarter.

While Google is by far the largest search engine on the internet, Amazon is by far the largest retailer on the internet, so it was only a matter of time before its Product Ads solution caught up with Amazon’s great reputation.

With Google and Amazon taking most of the share in this quarter’s rankings, most of the other engines saw drops in relative share as a result, except for Bing Shopping which like Google is itself powered by a popular search engine.


Revenue

comparison-shopping-revenue-q42010

Google continues the trend here being the top dog while the others saw drop-offs due to Google’s dominance.

Below the charts are broken into two parts, dark blue represents data from Q4 2010, and light blue reflects data from Q3 2010.


Conversion Rate % (orders/clicks)

comparison-shopping-cr-q42010

Even though they’ve ended their popular Cashback program, Bing Shopping remains our best converting engine along with its search engine brother Google, but suffered a slight drop due to the lack of Cashback incentives.

Nextag is the leader among paid engines but as we see in the rest of the list, every CSE but Amazon (which saw great conversions last quarter) saw improved conversion rates due to the holiday season. Pricegrabber saw the most dramatic improvement with nearly a 1/2 percent gain from quarter to quarter.


COS % (Cost/Revenue)

comparison-shopping-cos-q42010

Once again, other than the free engines, Amazon takes top honors as the best performing engine based on ROI for our merchants.

Still, similar to the conversion rates, the overall COS improved in spite of the CPC rate changes, with the exception of Amazon.


Average CPC (Cost-per-click) Rate

comparison-shopping-cpc-q42010

A controversial subject for many, the Q4 shopping season represents a time when CSE’s raise their rates as demand and traffic ramp up for the holidays–some by as much as 25% across the board.

Become and Amazon, like the free engines, saw no rate increases which is a move we have much respect for.

Others, like Shopping.com didn’t raise rates across the board but only for some of the categories, so their overall CPC rate didn’t change as dramatically as the other comparison shopping sites.


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

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In spite of being a smaller engine, Become.com once again tops our comparison shopping report as being the most responsive by not only answering all questions we have in a timely manner but by taking initiatives as well–though the same can be said about most of the top comparison shopping sites on our list.


Merchant Tools (ranking from 1-10, 1 being best)

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For purposes of our comparison shopping report, Google Product Search is represented by its cousin Google Analytics.

The tools that an engine provide are a crucial part of running a successful campaign. While most CSE’s provide similar tools for tracking cost and revenue, some go above and beyond to provide the necessary resources to push a campaign’s success to its limits.

For instance, Shopzilla allows a merchant to not only see product and category performance but be able to bid specifically on those as well.

Amazon Product Ads is the only paid CSE that does not have its ROI tracker so the only way to track orders generated from clicks made there is through a 3rd party tracker.

Also lacking from the Product Ads login is the ability to run SKU reports over custom-time frames, which is also crucial for monitoring how a specific product is doing.

Being a relative newcomer to the CSE’s they have come a long way, but there’s still a gap between them and the longer established comparison shopping sites.


Conclusion

In the end, we ranked each comparison shopping engine from each of our metrics from 1-10 and assigning a point value for each category (higher being better).

We doubled the COS % value making that out of a possible 20 points, and weighted traffic + revenue as 1.5 each for a maximum of 15, summed it up, and got the following:

Google runs away with it again leading in a few key categories, with Nextag in 2nd and not far behind them is Shopzilla along with Amazon, which isn’t bad at all for an engine that less than 2 years ago was essentially non-existent.

We continue to stress that each comparison shopping engine has its own strengths and that managed properly it makes sense to be listed on as many as you can–and we continue to vouch that these are the top 10 shopping engines to be on.

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If you want to check out the comparison shopping engines for themselves, take a look at their sites here: