Comparative Search Engineshoppingcom-logo.gif



Overview




Shopping.com is an easy-to-use price comparison website for shoppers. At the top of the website are tabs splitting all of the products into categories. Also on the page is a search engine box where shoppers and directly type in some specific product they are looking for. When using the search engine function, shoppers can type in anything from ‘Bridesmaid gifts’ to ‘power tools’. The shopper can then browse either the search engine results, or through the categories shown on the tabs. Every product on shopping.com is a link to the company’s webpage. So when a shopper is interested in a product, or ready to make a purchase the shopper can click on the product and it will bring the shopper to the products website where they can make their purchase.

Different types of ads




When advertising with shopping.com, there are two different programs to choose from. The first is the Merchant Program. This program gives companies the opportunity to have their products listed on the shopping.com website. This means that when a shopper types a keyword into the search box, whatever relevant matches to that keyword will show up; the only matches that shopping.com will post, however, are products by companies that have signed up for the Merchant Program. The Image below shows an example of the search engine results.

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The second program offered is the shopping.com Branding Program. This program is usually used as a supplement to the first. If offers companies the opportunity to have banner advertisements or promotions on either side of the website. These advertisements are clickable and will shoot shoppers to the companies .

Advantages




The shoppers on shopping.com are looking to make a purchase. To advertise with shopping.com is the easiest way to ensure that a company’s advertising is reaching their target audience because their target audience will be the ones seeking the product out. Shopping.com also offers price comparisons that give shoppers the ability to make quick and easy purchase decisions.

Limitations




The Shopping.com database only tracks how many shoppers click on a products link, it does not track how many of those clicks lead to sales. (Phone Interview, November 2010)

Costs




Shopping.com charges in CPC, which stands for ‘costs per click’. Cost per click is the amount of money a merchant is willing to spend per click on their product. A merchant will only get charged if a shopper directly clicks on their product, which automatically sends the shopper to the merchant’s site. Merchants can choose their CPC by category and subcategory, so they can put different rates on different products. The minimum CPC varies by category, in the least expensive category CPC can cost as low as $.05. The most expensive categories are computers, office and electronics. The least expensive category is media.

Reach and Frequency




The shopping.com website has an average of 20 million users every month. This accounts for over 15% of all online shoppers (Shopping.com). After Shopping.com was bought by eBay Inc in August 2005, the website expanded to areas around the world including Great Britain, Germany, France and Australia (Kemp, 2006). Directly after the merge, Shopping.com hired a European marketing director and staff to ensure oversees success (Croft, 2005). The amount of shoppers that will see the advertisement depends on how much money the company is willing to spend in CPC. The more money a company pays in CPC, the higher their product will appear on the results page. Shopping.com found that usually 50% of all shopper clicks go to the top 3 listed merchants in any category. If a product is listed lower than the top three it may still be clicked on 50% of the time, but to reach maximum reach and frequency it is important to be one of the first few results. The youtube below is a television commercial for shopping.com. With commercials comes expansion and with expansion comes even more reach and frequency.



Scheduling Strategies




The only scheduling that shopping.com offers is through their two different payment plans. The first plan is called the ‘Always On’ plan that will re-fill a merchants account as soon as it reaches zero. The second plan is called the ‘Monthly Charge’ plan. This lets the merchant allocate a certain amount of money per month that they are willing to spend on CPCs. Once their account runs out, the merchants products will be removed from shopping.com immediately until the next month when the account is replenished.

General Impact




A study conducted in 2008 questioned shoppers about their opinions of online shopping. It found that 43% of internet users have been frustrated by the lack of information encountered when shopping online and that 32% of shoppers have been confused by the information presented online. (Horrigan, 2008) Shopping.com helps shoppers from becoming frustrated and confused by having a clean and clear layout. Complete with anything a shopper might need to make their buying decisions.

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Audience Qualities




The average shopper on shopping.com is well educated with money to spend. 42% of Shopping.com's shoppers have a household income of more than $75,000 and 48% have at least a bachelors degree. (Shopping.com, April 2003) The majority of online shoppers in general that uses the Internet to research products are white and between the ages of 30-49 (Horrigan, 2008)


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Responsiveness of the Audience




The biggest impact this emerging form of advertising has on it’s audience is it’s ability to create action. Shopping.com conveniently compares different prices, shows customer reviews and provides a full description and picture of every product, all on the same page. This, combined with the fact that “Sales leads from Shopping.com come from shoppers who are ready to buy” (Shopping.com) helps create the statistic that “shoppers from Shopping.com are twice as likely to buy and when they buy, they buy twice as much as leads from other portals and search engines.” (Shopping.com, June 2003)

Other Interesting Qualities




Along with being a comparative search engine, Shopping.com also offers shoppers to join their ‘community’. Under the community tab, members can post their opinions and rate different products displayed on Shopping.com. This helps shoppers to feel more comfortable about their purchase decisions and speeds up the buying process. This helps Shopping.com’s impact follow Moriarty’s Domains Model that states a message can compel a consumer in three ways simultaneously. It helps the audience achieve perception, learning and persuasion all at the same time. The perception comes from the comparative search engine, the learning comes from reading real customers reviews and the persuasion is hopefully the quick purchase decision.

Who is Using This New Form of Advertising?




Many companies have already invested in advertising with Shopping.com. This list is just an example of the variety of merchants.
Overstock.com said, “Shopping.com surveys are a very valuable tool.” (Shopping.com)
Callaway Golf said, “We have been working with Shopping.com for the past year and they have become a key component of our marketing plans.” (Shopping.com)
DrugStore.com said, “Shopping.com sends us highly qualified traffic that converts and spends more than our average costumers.” (Shopping.com)
Fossil said, “Shopping.com has been a successful advertising venue for Fossil for over two years and consistently produces a positive ROI.” (Shopping.com)

These direct quotes are located on the Shopping.com website and can be viewed here.

References




Croft, Martin. "Shopping.com in Search for European Marketing Chief." Marketing Week 13 Jan. 2005, 28th ed., sec. 2: 15. Print.

Horrigan, John. "Pew Internet & American Life Project." Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. 13 Feb. 2008. Web. 18 Nov. 2010. <http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2008/Online-Shopping/01-Summary-of-Findings.aspx>.

Kemp, Ed. "Shopping.com Eyes Agency." WVU Libraries: EZProxy. Marketing (00253650) Trade Publication, 6 July 2006. Web. 18 Nov. 2010. <http://search.ebscohost.com.www.libproxy.wvu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=buh&jid=3ST&site=ehost-live>.

"Merchant Program Information Link." Shopping.com Merchant Enrollment. Web. 18 Nov. 2010. <https://merchant.shopping.com/enroll/app?service=page/PartnerWelcome>.

"Shopping.com Telephone Interview." Telephone interview. 11 Nov. 2010.

Wells, Mitchell, Moriarty. "Chapter 4." Advertising Principles and Practices. 8e ed.
Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall. Print.

Links to other sites:


Overstock.com

CallawayGolf.com

DrugStore.com

Fossil.com