Comparison Shopping Engines and Product Listing Ads: Aligning Your Campaigns

The search landscape underwent a complete overhaul in the past 18 months, as the roll out of Google’s paid Product Listing Ad product drove search performance to new heights. The comparison shopping landscape changed just as drastically. The lines between CSE and SEM are blurred now, and as a result, brands have aligned both budgets to be more fluid to allow for optimizations across channel based on performance. Sometimes this means that funds may shift away from CSEs into search, if needed. PLAs are accounting for increasing proportions of SEM CTR and conversions, and accompanying this new PLA-centric search model are higher CSE CPC rates.

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. Product 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. Although not as dependent as search engines on keywords, CSEs still utilize keyword data to optimize titles and descriptions to increase visibility and, ultimately, performance. Aligning with an experienced agency can provide assurance to your brand that each product will include the critical keywords used by CSEs to help determine relevancy.  CSEs should not be approached as an isolated facet of SEM, but rather as an extended ally.

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Even with PLA success, 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 other numerous partner sites and increase product and brand exposure. In addition, CSE new customer percentages continue to be higher than paid search new customer numbers.

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

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.

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