Adam T. Sutton

Calming Comparison Shopping Mayhem

Third-party shopping comparison sites such as and Shopzilla can get products to consumers who aren’t visiting brands’ sites directly. However, these sites pose challenges: they have different audiences, data requirements, bidding requirements, and capabilities.

Mercent, a Seattle-based company founded by former Amazon execs, has built a platform to help marketers sell across a range of third-party sites. I chatted last week with Mercent CEO Eric Best and several marketers from specialty retailer Brookstone.

Brookstone’s marketers had nothing but good things to say about their experience with Mercent. Brookstone sells on somewhere between 12 and 20 of these third-party sites, and they’re attributable to about 10% to 20% of Brookstone’s online revenue, says Steve August, Operational VP of Customer Marketing, Brookstone. August and his team have been working with Mercent’s Retail Shopping tool since September. The tool helped them achieve a 20% lift in year-over-year revenues for the last holiday season, he says.

Best broke down several ways marketer can be more effective in comparison shopping sites that have been incorporated into Mercent’s tool. Three ways he mentioned:

1) Optimize content for search – at their root, many of these sites are search engines, which means that targeting keywords, peppering them in the copy, and using other SEO basics can pay off well. Mercent has a full-on content management system for a client’s product info.

2) Optimize content for conversion – “The other half of the content management story is really around optimizing the merchandizing offers. If your first objective is to make your products visible from and SEO standpoint, then your second objective is to make sure that you’re competitive when consumers find your products,” says Best.

3) Dynamic product selection – each of these sites attracts a unique audience that has different tastes. Some audience’s buy more electronics. Some want only discounted products. Starting with a full product selection, testing, and whittling it down to the audience’s core desires can optimize performance on these sites. Mercent’s retail product automates this process, based on a number of KPIs you can select.

Mercent’s tool has a number of other features, including bid optimization. From the sound of it, it could take the headache out of managing campaigns across dozens of disparate comparison shopping sites.

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Ecommerce Eretail, Search Marketing