2009 CSE Wishlist Review

January 6, 2010

Digital Marketing ChannelAdvisor By ChannelAdvisor

This time last year, I wrote a series of posts about features and improvements that retailers would benefit from most. Let’s take a look back and see to what degree my dreams were realised/crushed.

  • More budgeting options: Unfortunately, there weren’t any steps forward here. I think this is something at least some engines would like to offer but it doesn’t get legs internally because (a) it’s probably not all that easy to enable this sort of throttling/removal mechanism and (b) it is probably seen as a revenue limiter. I still think that though it may be a short-term revenue limiter, it will help cultivate sustainable long term revenue by giving retailers a way to test the waters, understand how to manage their campaigns and find a way to succeed with consistency.  It may also be seen as having a negative impact on consumer experience since not all offers are displayed at all times, but if budgets run out mid way through the month, that happens anyway.
  • More insight and control over affiliate partner sites: I can’t say I really expected this to go anywhere. The engines like to maintain total control over the traffic distribution across their networks. It is a “hidden” lever they can pull to adjust traffic or impact conversion, though in general they prefer not to. In fact, it seems like they prefer not to talk about it all.
  • More/better ways to demonstrate value proposition: Here is one where we saw some movement. NexTag’s expanded promotional messaging is one. PriceGrabber also added feed fields to allow for more control over coupon  information. Shopzilla’s additional price field and subsequent call-out on their properties makes for a nice visual indicator. Shopping.com expanded their feed to allow for several new such features, though not all have been fully implemented on site. These are all positive steps but I think there is still room for growth here.
  • Availability of impressions/CTR data:  No change here either. I’m not sure on this but I would guess the engines have this data and use it for their own purposes. I can see why they want to keep it under wraps, and though they may be able to increase CTR to some degree by changing the user experience, nothing drives CTR more than a strong offer. Since site changes aren’t that common, the most likely reaction an engine will have to poor CTR on an offer is burying it in lieu of a stronger offer. This is effective when the number of relevant offers is large, but on more specific queries, this falls apart because the remaining offers may all be weak. Even a basic indication of offers that are under-performing from a CTR perspective would be valuable to merchants, even if the definition of “under-performance” is not entirely clear. It at least gives the merchant an idea of which offers need to be reviewed.

Not a great conversion rate here but I can hardly complain since 2009 was definitely a year of change for the industry.