The Comparison Shopping Report: Q4 2013
What is the best Comparison Shopping Engine?
What’s the best Comparison Shopping Engine (CSE)? It’s an important question for online merchants looking to increase online orders, drive traffic, and rank high on search.
We study performance on each of the comparison engines and rank them based on:
- Conversion Rate
- Cost of sale (COS)
- Shopping Engine Responsiveness (gives retailers, marketers and agencies an indication of how helpful each data feed marketing channel is with merchant support)
- Merchant Tools (gives retailers, marketers and agencies an indication of how easy each data feed marketing platform is to use)
How We Rank The Comparison Shopping Engines
*Please note that the rankings below are based on CPC Strategy clients results on the CSEs. That means how we’re managing the comparison shopping engines directly affects the numbers we report, and doesn’t necessarily reflect the results you’ll get if you were to list on them.
Here’s how we manage CSEs:
- ROI is a focus. Retailers have razor thin margins and we’re expected to hit them, so we cut fat wherever possible.
- Our product feeds follow best practices and are custom-built.
- Our Data Analysts adjust bids on a daily basis, which affects all reporting variables.
- Numbers and strategy vary across categories, so for certain category retailers, COS numbers are lower or higher.
Google Note: Like the previous quarter, we separated free and paid Google numbers.
Best Comparison Shopping Engine: Q4 2013
- Best Comparison Shopping Engine: Conversion Rate
- Best Comparison Shopping Engine: Cost Of Sale (COS)
- Best Comparison Shopping Engine: Traffic
- Best Comparison Shopping Engine: Revenue
- Best Comparison Shopping Engine: Responsiveness Rating
- Best Comparison Shopping Engine: Merchant Tools
- The Comparison Shopping Report Q4 2013: Top 10 CSEs
Bing nabs the top spot this quarter with a conversion rate of 4.52%, ousting Amazon’s 1st rank from last quarter. Of note is the fact that no CSE conversion rates in Q3 2013 cracked over 3.00%, yet in Q4 (where the intent to buy is seasonally higher), we see 4 shopping engines exceed a 3% CR.
Google Shopping enters back into the conversation in Q4 with a 3.2%, once again pitting it against the historical winner, Amazon. It’s clear that shoppers head to these 2 giants when the intent to buy is high.
Conversion Rate Changes From Q3 2013:
- Google Shopping regains a high conversion rate after its huge dip in Q3, increasing to a 3.2% CR from a 2.41% CR in Q3
- Amazon Product Ads goes from being the best converting CSE with 2.78% conversion rate during Q3 to the 2nd best with a 3.48% in Q4
- Bing’s CR boosts significantly from a 1.32% CR in Q3 to its leading 4.52% CR this quarter
- Shopzilla makes significant strides in Q4, raising CR from 1.86% in Q3 to 3.12% this quarter
Excluding the 2 free shopping engines, cost of sale percentages were noticeably higher across the board in Q4. Google PLAs reclaim their top spot of the lowest COS with 13.15%. Amazon also enters back into the conversation as a lucrative investment for retailers, posting its highest COS ranking since Q1 2013.
Cost of Sale Changes From Q3 2013:
- Google PLA COS dropped from 16.73% in Q3 to a leading 13.15% in Q4
- Amazon nabs the second lowest COS in Q4 with 16.06% despite seeing an increase from Q3’s 15.03% COS
- Shopzilla’s COS rises significantly from Q3, going from 13.91% to 26.19%
- Nextag’s COS increases the most significantly, rising from Q3’s 2nd place 12.53% COS to Q4’s 9th place 28.51%
- Q3 COS leader Pricegrabber sees a COS increase from 11.49% to 20.26% in Q4
Once more, Google PLAs dominate holiday shopping traffic over its shopping engine peers, driving more than 2x as much traffic as 2nd place eBay Commerce Network (Shopping.com). The Top 4 traffic drivers remain the same from Q3 to Q4, with Google, eBay Commerce Network (Shopping.com), Pricegrabber, and Nextag nabbing the top spots again.
Traffic Changes From Q3 2013:
- Google widens the gap slightly between its top spot and 2nd place from Q3 to Q4
- Amazon’s clicks decrease significantly in Q4, going from a 28.95 weighted average to a 7.82 average in Q4
Google PLAs win by a longshot here, solidifying itself as the best investment for ecommerce merchants. eBay Commerce Network (Shopping.com) comes in 2nd here with a little over just a quarter of Google’s revenue. For all the shopping engines not named Google, the huge decreases from Q3’s revenue rankings is not due to poor performance but rather to Google doing that much better than everyone else.
Revenue Changes From Q3 2013:
- Nextag falls heavily, from 2nd place in Q3 with half of Google’s revenue to 4th place to under a quarter in Q4
- eBay Commerce Network boosts from 6th place in Q3 to 2nd place in Q4
Comparison shopping engine responsiveness is rated on a scale of 1-9, 1 being the most responsive comparison engine, and 9 being the least responsive.
Comparison Shopping Engine Responsiveness
|2. Amazon Product Ads|
|6. Ebay Commerce Network (Shopping.com)|
The Account Managers at CPC consult with the shopping engines, and support daily in order to troubleshoot campaign issues and optimize strategy. They know first hand which engines are quickest to respond and how helpful those responses are.
In general (and with AdWords Support), persistence pays off.
Comparison shopping engine merchant tools are rated on a scale of 1-9, 1 being the shopping engine with the best merchant tools, and 9 being the comparison engine with the least helpful tools.
Comparison Shopping Engine Merchant Tools
|5. Ebay Commerce Network (Shopping.com)|
|8. Amazon Product Ads|
The top comparison shopping engines are rated based on the number of products we’re sending for each engine compared to the previous year. A perfect score this quarter would be an 83.
|Comparison Shopping Engine||Traffic*||Revenue*||Conversion Rate (%)*||Cost of Sale (COS)**||Comparison Engine Responsiveness||Comparison Engine Tools||Total|
|Google Product Listing Ads||15||15||12||16||1||9||68|
|Amazon Product Ads||1.17||1.42||13.5||14||8||2||40.09|
|eBay Commerce Network||6.01||4.22||6||10||3||5||34.23|
*Based out of a total of 15 maximum points. The leader in each category gets 15 points, while the rest are weighted based on a percentage of the leader.
**Based out of 20 maximum points, with 20 being achievable for only the free-click CSEs (Google’s remaining free clicks and Bing).
e.g. If CSE1 got the top spot with 100 clicks and CSE2 got 50 clicks, CSE1 would get 15 points and CSE2 would get 7.5 points.
The takeaways here are clear: Google remains the safest and most lucrative investment for online retailers while Amazon makes considerable gains, leaping from 5th place overall to 2nd place in Q4 2013. Amazon is expected to rise next quarter, especially with their recent announcement that its Product Ads would be advertised alongside Marketplace listings. Nextag also sees a significant dip, losing its 2nd place spot that its held for over 1 year.
So whether your goal is to increase traffic/order volume, or to cut costs and make the most efficient use out of your spend, there’s a strategy in place for you and a need for each of the CSEs that will work.