Comparison Shopping Engines and Product Listing Ads: How Aligning Your Campaigns Enhances Overall Performance
Comparison shopping is inherently different from search shopping; by the time customers have chosen a comparison shopping engine (CSE) they are already intent on purchasing a type of product, and now are in pursuit of extra resources to help them finalize their brand choice. Despite the discrepancies in buyer behavior from CSE to search engine shopping, the same management principles apply to both.
The first step to improving CSE management and relevancy is to optimize product data; getting your house in order first, leads to future enhanced opportunities. Variant data, including color and size, as well as accurate pricing is imperative to establishing your product as a competitive mainstay among other offerings within the CSE. Additionally, like search engines, CSEs rely on keywords to determine visibility, and ultimately, performance. Aligning with an experienced agency can provide assurance to your brand that each product will receive the proper keyword management. CSEs should not be approached as an isolated facet of SEM, but rather as an extended ally, as CSEs have the potential to enhance paid search campaigns. Most specifically CSEs complement PLA programs and offer a new avenue to which PLAs can attract online customers.
The search landscape underwent a complete alteration over the past 18 months, as the advent of PLAs drove search performance to new heights. The lines between CSE and SEM are blurring, and as a result, brands have consolidated the two components within their budgets. PLAs are accounting for increasing proportions of SEM CTR and conversions, and accompanying this new PLA-centric search model are higher CSE CPC rates.
Although more online shoppers trust SERP results, due to PLAs and their extensions, CSEs should not be abandoned. Instead, retail marketers need to change the way they approach comparison shopping with an emphasis on its supplementary benefits to online search shopping. Despite being standalone sites, CSEs often execute partner programs that allow brands to expand audience reach. For example, if a product feed is uploaded to PriceGrabber, that same feed can then be repurposed on Yahoo Shopping and increase product and brand exposure.
Furthermore, CSE partner programs also unlock opportunities on the SERP. When shoppers enter a preliminary search, your product entry within your CSE feed (with the right keywords) has a chance of appearing on the SERP. However, in order for this impression to occur, product feeds and bid strategy need to garner optimal performance. Beyond up-to-date, accurate and detailed data, bid management strategy can make or break visibility opportunities. As all brands are aware, some products have inherently better conversion rates, and aligning with an experienced CSE agency can help determine how to accommodate non-converting products within CSE feeds without hindering the chances of converting products to reach the SERP. It’s safe to say that optimization of CSE product feeds is no longer imperative to just CSE performance, but to paid search performance as well.
Although brands are responsible for releasing up-to-date product information and inventory, an agency with extensive CSE experience can execute integrated strategy to bolster performance across sites and search engines.