This month’s topic is Price Comparison, which my colleague Dan talked about in a PerformanceIN article ‘Price Comparison- the Forgotten Channel’ last year. In this article Price Comparison is positioned as something that hasn’t always been given the attention it deserves, or at least not within the affiliate channel. Within the affiliate channel CPA is the dominant payment metric and the ‘last click’ attribution doesn’t favour these partnerships, if the programme includes a lot of voucher and loyalty activity. Price Comparison has often sat within PPC teams at businesses, both working towards CPC budgets, but occasionally it is falls between the cracks or advertisers don’t realise how effective it can be within the affiliate channel if it is used correctly.
The most traditional and visible listings on these sites would be retail and especially electronics, on top sites such as Kelkoo, Shopping.com and PriceRunner. In travel you have the meta-search partners such as Skyscanner and TravelSuperMarket, while in finance there are some simpler (in terms of layout rather than content) comparison tables on premium sites such as Money.co.uk
Price Comparison is one of those areas that is all about data; you need data feeds, basket data and clickpath data to work effectively with these publishers.
Advertisers within retail should have a data feed to dynamically catalogue their product range, information and pricing. In travel and other areas where the pricing structure is too fluid they must instead work with an API.
Alongside Fusepump the IAB have created a best practice guide which provides specific guidance on the scope and format of data that should be provided, and how often it should be updated. There are sector-specific guides for travel and mobile available for download from the IAB website, born from a historical understanding of how data feeds are used by publishers. It isn’t just within the affiliate channel though since they are useful in search, retargeting and other marketing.
Whether you have product-level-tracking enabled or just retrospectively analyse which products are performing, basket level tracking allows a truer understanding of the value generated from these sites and how the costs are affecting margins directly. It enables advertisers to prune the products that aren’t performing and avoid wasted clicks and budget. There are also opportunities on some sites to enhance coverage such as sponsored listings or category banners, so you want to make sure you’re targeting the right products for this. Depending on whether the site is purely price-led in their rankings or if there are additional influences (including aggregators here) such as popularity or EPC; it might be possible to improve your position by tweaking commissions slightly. It is also worth noting where sites incorporate voucher codes and delivery into a net price since this could allow further triggers to adjust your placement.
This was explored by Dan in a follow up article on PerformanceIN so I won’t go into too much detail or cover old ground. However, it is worth highlighting the importance of this data in understanding the contribution from Price Comparison publishers and the costs when you’re paying someone upfront for a CPC and perhaps doubling up with a CPA in the event of a conversion. The information is available within the affilinet platform to see previous touch-points (across the affiliate channel) in a given sale. We have found in particular with Price Comparison that their place sits quite early in the decision-making process and they may not seal the conversion on last-click grounds. Advertisers ran the risk of switching this activity off if just weighing up CPA costs versus last click conversions. It is important to consider the value of price comparison in conjunction with other publisher models. We have produced case studies to demonstrate that the Price Comparison/Aggregator sites initiated a large number of sales and these would not automatically appear elsewhere. In these instances it was far more beneficial to pay the CPC in addition to the CPA, still working towards a blended ROI but gaining more incremental sales overall.
Willingness to test activity is always key , so a nice note to end on. Next month we’ll take a look at another type of publisher activity so stay tuned….
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