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Comparison Shopping PPC Search Engines

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Although comparison shopping search engines have been a fixture on the Internet for a number of years now, only lately have they become an increasing popular area for experimentation by advertisers.

Most comparison shopping search engines provide a lot of information to shoppers to make informed decisions, including not just merchant reviews, but also reviews from magazines and “experts”. Results pages can usually be sorted by the different headings, such as price.

Once you click on a seller or product, you are taken to the seller’s website and you purchase the item there.

Comparison shopping search engines do not conduct actual transactions; instead they act primarily as an information center as well as a pay-per-click search engine, sending the visitor to the advertiser’s website to make the actual purchase.

Merchant information is available via a simple click underneath each individual product for sale and often reviews of merchant/advertisers are available that are compiled from user feedback.

In fact, most of this type of search engine rely at least somewhat on users to report any differences in pricing, product availability, or other details when they actually check the product out on the seller’s website.

Some larger sellers arrange data feeds to the search engine, but smaller advertisers need to ensure that their product line data is kept up-to-date to avoid negative user reports and perhaps removal from the site.

Shopping comparison sites are becoming more popular with consumers because of the variety of information they offer in one place, thus saving the consumer valuable time.

If you wish to advertise on a shopping comparison search engine, you will probably have two options.

The first is basically pay-per-click advertising for your product(s), for which you pay a standard set amount per click to be included in a specific category.

The process of advertising is usually very easy, often with a step-by-step walkthrough that leads you through creating your listing, setting your pricing, methods of payment you will accept, adding an image, describing the product, and so on.

Although setup is usually free, there arc various charges associated with most options that are needed for a competitive listing, and restrictions on terms such as what kind of payment options you can offer.

Sometimes your ads are limited to certain categories and the search engine changes you when an item is sold.

An example might be $1 plus 4.75% of the sales price, including, shipping and handling charges.

In all cases, you are responsible for ensuring that the proper taxes are charged, collected, ad delivered to the appropriate authorities.

Many are beginning to offer more sophisticated reporting to their advertisers, moving from providing data only on the number of sales, etc., to cost-per-click analysis and ROI conversion tracking.

Sales are usually monitored, as are purchases and users each day, in order to assign you to a category that dictates your maximum selling limit over the next 30 days.

You may not list anything for sale at a price above this limit, to ensure that only active sellers are participating.

Comparison shopping sites are concerned with maintaining a high-quality shopping experience for their visitors-thus, many restrictions and rules are tracked and enforced on advertisers.

The second option for selling, especially if you wish to sell in higher volumes, is to become a merchant. At this level, more tools and options are available to you, but you still need to adhere to numerous rules and constraints.

Usually, you will need to work with an account manager and pay a setup fee to integrate the data feed necessary to keep your sales information as up-to-date as possible.

The usual tracking tools are provided in the program-number of sales, cracking of sales in a very close to real-time environment, etc.-with reports available by category, brand, or product.

Comparison shopping sites act as an intermediary in all ways, sending you to the seller/advertiser to make the actual purchase.

They typically have a multitude of rules and restrictions, and additional costs and penalties for what might be expected to come with an advertising package, so sellers need to keep track of a lot of information in order to manage their accounts and not lose sight of their ROI.

Typically, pricing for advertising is on a pay-per-click basis, but with a specific cost per category, rather then keyword bidding.

Since visitors to such a site are motivated to buy, many factors may already have been decided by them (such as brand name, price they are looking for, unique features, etc.).

Because they have the ability to sort a results page by factors such as price or availability of the product, ranking on the page at some point moves beyond the control of the advertiser or the search engine itself.

Market expectations are that comparison shopping search engines will continue to grow and evolve in the near future, mostly in response to the success of pay per click on standard search engines.

Shopping Sites offer so much information in one place for the consumer that listings on them can cut the usual buying cycle timeframe of 12 weeks down to one day.

Impulse purchases are also often made as visitors browse through pages of results with images of the products and all the relevant information they need to make a buying decision right at their fingertips.

Smaller advertisers may feel that the brand name sellers dominate comparison shopping PPC search engines, and to some extent that is so.

However, if your pricing is competitive, your listings are up-to-date, and your website has an easy and intuitive shopping cart, many smaller advertisers report good conversions on shopping sites.

Although there are literally hundreds of these types of sites on the Internet, a few do stand out from the rest namely PriceGrabber.com, NetTag.com, BizRate.com (now known as Shopzilla.com), and mySimon.com (a CNET property).

These types of search engines should be investigated if you sell products and want to compete with the “big guys.”

You may be pleasantly surprised at the results in this type of shopping environment. As always, keep in mind that with pay-per-click advertising, diversity in the types of search engines you place your advertising dollars on is often the key to success.

Keywords: comparison shopping search engines, shopping comparison sites, Shopping Sites, shoppers, advertisers, advertising, ad, pay-per-click,

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