Q4 2012 CSE Rankings

Intro

Like the recent Super Bowl (sorry 49ers fans), the 4th quarter is the biggest and most competitive stage for ecommerce retailers. It’s the time when they’re really allowed to shine and demonstrate their worth after three grueling quarters of build up.

What made the previous quarter (Q4) especially interesting compared to prior years is the emergence of Google Shopping. It is now an even bigger source of traffic than it was previously, since Google shifted it to a paid model.

When we did the rankings in Q3, the new Google was only beginning to take off–but even so it still proved to be a dominating player in the comparison shopping world.

This time around we were especially curious how it would perform now that the program has matured.

The full results in this, the 16th edition of our quarterly rankings,  are below.

Changes

Due to a request from TheFind’s CEO, Siva Kumar we have omitted them from our rankings this quarter. A full interview can be found on our blog with a detailed explanation, here is a snippet:

But the fact is that some of the traffic tagged with ‘Pricegrabber’ as a source or ‘Shopping.com’ as a source may have originated from TheFind.com, which is why we wanted to give the shopping engine an opportunity to share their traffic relationship with other comparison shopping engines, and also share how you can integrate more closely with TheFind to get even more traffic.

The Study

Like we did with our rankings each of the past two quarters, we’ve split up the rankings into 4 specific categories:

  • Apparel
  • Electronics
  • Home & Garden
  • Sporting Goods

 

Stay tuned for these category rankings, which will be released next week.

For full details of how we measure the CSE’s check out our previous rankings’ page: http://cpcstrategy.com/blog/the-top-ten-comparison-shopping-engines-compared-q3-2011/

How We Measured Google

Last time around we combined the free clicks that merchants were getting along with the ones they were paying for to give an idea of what a merchant simply listing on “Google Shopping” could expect, this time we separated the two out to demonstrate the differences between not only the amount of traffic of free vs paid traffic a merchant was getting, but the performance of the two as well.

So let’s get started.



Traffic


 

Even though we separated paid Google listings from the free listings, we can see that PLA is still the king when it comes to driving traffic, sending about 61% more traffic than its nearest competitor: Pricegrabber.

Takeaway: Pricegrabber, Nextag, and Shopping.com are all next in traffic because they are listing products on Google PLAs, whereas Amazon Product Ads does not, and Shopzilla has just begun to. Next quarter we should see a boost in Shopzilla once they fully are listing on Google PLAs.

So not only is Google PLA the big leader of the pack, they are helping give a boost to the other CSEs that list on there.

 


Revenue

Not much changes here, the gap is widened a bit with Amazon placing 3rd getting about half the amount of traffic that Google PLA provides.


Below the charts are broken into two parts, dark blue represents data from Q4 2012, and purple  reflects data from the previous quarter, Q3 2012.


Conversion Rate % (orders/clicks)

 

Amazon is our leader here making a considerable jump compared to last quarter, showing that Amazon searchers during Q4 are serious buyers.

Free Google traffic came in second, with Nextag, paid Google Listings and Shopping.com rounding out the top half.

With the exception of Pronto, all CSE’s saw an increase in conversion rate during Q4 compared to Q3.


COS (Cost divided by Revenue) %

 

Cost of Sale % is dominated by paid Google listings,  and Amazon coming in second which is helped by its high conversion rates.


Average CPC (Cost-per-click) Rate

 

On the opposite end of conversion rates and cost of sale, we see that CPC rates were higher across the board for all except for Pricegrabber and Become.


Shopping Engine Responsiveness Rating (ranking from 1-9, 1 being best)

      1.  
      2.  
      3.   
      4.   

Our account managers here are constantly in touch with the shopping engines in an attempt to optimize our merchants’ accounts, and know first hand which engines are quickest to contact and who acts best.


Merchant Tools (ranking from 1-9, 1 being best)


Conclusion

In the end we ranked each 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:

1.  (paid)

2. 
3. 
4.
5. (free)
6.
7. 
8. 
9. 
10.

 

It’s no surprise that Google is still the comparison shopping king given that it’s not only such a high driver of traffic, but a high driver of quality traffic.

 

Pricegrabber and Nextag finish tied in second, with Amazon and Google (free) rounding out the top half.

 

We see the strength of Google PLAs in not only being a huge direct traffic provider, but indirectly helping out Nextag, Shopping.com, and Pricegrabber in driving traffic as well.

 

When it comes to comparison shopping the possibilities are now limitless given how much traffic Google as a whole gets, so  it ultimately comes down to the management of the campaigns to maximize a merchants presence and potential on the channel.

 

Breaking Down the Rankings by Category

Through special demand by our readers asking us to break down the CSE’s by specific categories, we have created separate studies that concentrate on apparel, electronics, home & garden, and sporting goods. Stay tuned for these individual reports next week.

 

About the AuthorTien Nguyen is a co-founder of CPC Strategy and deals with data feeds in his waking hours and often in his sleep. He spends his free time with Rubik's cubes while rooting for the underachieving Raiders and UCLA sports teams where he graduated with a mathematics/economics degree. See all posts by this author here.