Feeds are a valuable channel for many merchants, but one that is often misunderstood. It is important that you understand how Comparison Shopping Engines (CSE) acquire traffic that will then turn into revenue.
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How Comparison Shopping Engines Acquire Traffic
There are several ways consumer traffic comes to CSEs.
- Direct Navigation - Some consumers are familiar with CSEs and visit one or more by directly navigating to that CSE's domain.
- SEO - Many CSEs have a strong presence in natural search results on Google and other search engines. There is some indication that this is changing as eBay, Inc. noted in its Q4 2008 financial report."...Shopping.com declined 50%, as rule changes, made by search engines last summer, disrupted Shopping's traffic."
- Paid Search - CSEs are major marketers in the Pay-Per-Click search space. Run a search on any product type and you are likely to see at least on CSE advertising on that keyword.
- Network Partner sites - Most major CSEs have a partner program that involves publishing merchant data collected by that CSE to other properties. Shopping.com has over 400 partner sites in the US and a well documented API program. As of 2007, PriceGrabber data was used on over 300 sites, including AOL Shopping and CNET.
CSEs use other marketing mechanisms just like any other site trying to generate traffic, including but not limited to e-mail marketing, affiliate marketing, banner advertisements, and offline options.