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Shopzilla Publisher Program – First Impression Review

Shopzilla

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been experimenting with a couple of new advertising networks and am really excited by the initial results that I’m seeing.

The first one that I want to introduce readers to is the Shopzilla Publisher Program. You won’t learn a lot about this program from it’s front page as they’re in beta and have been flying under the radar a little while they’ve developed it – but it’s a program that I think has real promise and that makes a good alternative to programs like Chitika’s eMiniMalls and WidgetBucks.

Shopzilla has been around since 1996 as a comparison shopping service. They’re a service that matches shoppers with online stores. Check out their Alexa ranking (around 2000 today) and you’ll see that they do some serious traffic. So Shopzilla has some serious experience and expertise in the online shopping space – so it makes sense that they branch out in the way that they have with their publisher program.

The best way to learn about Shopzilla is to register and to start experimenting with them but let me give you a few details so you know what you’re in for:

  • Shopzilla Publisher Program is a CPC (cost per click) model. You get paid when anyone clicks on one of the ads on your site.
  • It’s ideal for sites focussing upon products.
  • They offer a good range of ad unit sizes – although I’m hoping they expand this further.
  • They offer banner ads, ‘product pods’ (similar to Chitika eMiniMalls), custom text links (where you can link to categories, products or pages in Shopzilla), search boxes (search Shopzilla from your blog) and more.
  • Some of these ad types can be customized to different colors/design. Hopefully they’ll add this feature to all ad types soon.
  • They have a wide array of categories of products to target
  • They offer ad unit IDs to help you track each ad’s performance (think channels on AdSense)
  • They offer an API so that you can customize your ad units even further to your blog
  • They have a minimum payout of $50. Your monthly earnings will accumulate until you hit this level. Payment is via PayPal or check.

This is a beta program so it’s still having features added to it. Keep this in mind as you apply.

Also from my testing so far (and chatting to other publishers who use them) I’ve found that there is variance in payouts from category to category. Obviously these ads will perform best when you choose ads from a category that match your blog’s topic – however do experiment with different related categories to see what works best for you.

I was accepted into the program reasonably quickly (I think it took under 24 hours) however I’ve heard that at this point in their beta test that they don’t accept every application.

Let me show you some of the Shopzilla ad units (note: I’ve left them largely unaltered in terms of colors and design):

This first one is a ‘Top Search Results’ ad where I put the search term of ‘Canon Rebel’ in and used the Camera category. I was given 15 ad unit sizes and styles to choose from:

Here’s a ‘Product Pod’ – again I was given options to change the design and choose a few different ad unit sizes.

One thing you’ll notice with these ads is that the images are clickable. This is something that Chitika launched with but stopped doing (controversially) because it made the ads too clickable! This is one reason why I think Shopzilla might be a good alternative to check out.

Test it for yourself – Register for Shopzilla here.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Thanks Darren for the great news! I will be looking into and registering with this advertising venue.

  2. I still feel like all of these programs fall short of something fantastic.

    Why is that?

  3. Chetan says:

    Good review there Darren :)
    will try registering with it now and review it. Points you provided will make it easier for me to navigate and understand the site.

  4. I did register with them 4 or 5 months back but wasn’t accepted. Will try again, though

  5. Hyder says:

    I’ve been trying them out for sometime now, the only trouble is you have to hope a visitor clicks through again on the Shopzilla site otherwise you don’t get paid.

    You failed to mention that in your review Darren. That’s why they are not that concerned about having the images clickable. It takes two clicks to make any money, which can possibly not happen that often as you think it might.

    I speak from experience.

  6. Learn SEO says:

    And how is the CPC and CTR performing for you Darren ?! I mean you said you were excited so was expecting to see some numbers (been awhile I saw shopzilla but never really thought to signup with them).

  7. Rori says:

    Thanks for this info! I’m always on the look out for new CPC programs that accept adult sites, since I run an erotica blog (read: not PORN…just adult material). I don’t see anything in their terms saying that they don’t allow adult-orientated sites to sign up, so it’s worth a shot! Programs like Google don’t have adult-only programs, so us erotica bloggers get turned away right off the bat. If you have other ideas for good CPC programs that accept adult bloggers, I’d be all ears! Its a big problem in this blogging community.

  8. MR says:

    I don’t think I’ll use it. Google AdSense is working just fine for me.

  9. Frugal Dad says:

    Thanks for the heads up on Shopzilla’s new affiliate program. I’ve registered and am waiting for the reply.

  10. Sounds really interesting. I like that it is Pay Per Click. That takes the weight off smaller bloggers who most likely will not lead to a lot of sales of the product like with affiliate programs.

  11. Tom Beaton says:

    Looks like it has good potential like you say for product based sites.

  12. In response to Learn SEO’s comment, the CPC yields and CTRs that you generate will typically be a function of how contextually relevant the links are on your site. If you write a piece about the new 8GB iPod Nano and integrate an ad for it where readers would expect to see pricing info, then you’ll like generate high click-throughs. They highest eCPMs we’ve seen are north of $45; and, of course, the lowest are in the pennies. It all depends on integration and contextual relevance.

  13. Rehuel says:

    I’ll keep this post close. I decided to stop concentrating on monetizing for now and focus on my content now, since it’s been a while since I was active in the blogosphere.

  14. Thanks for keeping us abreast of different advertising networks. It’s always nice to hear from people who have actually tried them.

    I have been using AdSense for some time now but have noticed a slow decline in overall revenue on many of my sites.

  15. I guess I got quite a ways to go before worrying about monetizing. My blog doesn’t have any focus on anything specific.

    I may consider publishing a different blog more focused on providing interesting, focused content with some good value.

    I guess watching all these ad providers is tough without having any significant traffic. :) Blogging for the publishing one’s own thought and generating money does sound like a very desirable work.

  16. Jacqueline says:

    I’ve been using Shopzilla for my fashion blog (http://www.fashionablekiffen.blogspot.com) since last summer, and I’m very happy with it. It’s definitely great for product-focused sites – and their ads are fairly attractive.

    I also like their text links (you can link to search results, specific products, etc.) – they are easy to add in and non-intrusive.

  17. Jacqueline says:

    Oh yeah – I forgot to mention that their customer service is great – they’ve responded to all my questions within 24 hours!

  18. Darren Rowse says:

    Learn SEO – I’ve found their CTR to be quite similar to Chitika and Widgetbucks and their actual click value has varied from category to category. On some it’s higher than the others and with others it’s lower. Like I said in my post – I think it’s one of those things that is worth experimenting with to see how it’s situated for your particular blog’s topic.

    I have recently chatted to one blogger who is using the API to really customize the ads and has seen higher earnings than they had been getting with Chitika.

    Jacqueline – thanks for the comment. Good to hear that’d been working for you well. I agree that the text links are an attractive option – something that I don’t really see any other CPC ad networks offering without them being those automated ones that networks like Kontera offer.

  19. Ma2T says:

    I was invited to use their beta program a few months ago. But have yet to try it.

    I hear their API is the best also, but im happy with my API provider right now.

  20. Hyder says:

    Darren one of my comments is in your moderation list. Just wanted you to know.

  21. Enrique says:

    Hi, I’ve been using Shopzilla for a while, but I had to switch to the API because the ads pay only the second click.
    I mean, they don’t pay you the first click, but the clicks your visitor perform at Shopzilla. It is much like Chitika’s Shoplinc and, if I’m not mistaken, CNET’s affiliate program.

    Instead, the API lets you create links directly to the merchant and those are truly PPC. But you have to build your own script and have to refresh the cache about every 8 hours or so to get fresh results. Also, to use the API, you have to compare at least three prices. You can’t build an ad with a product and only one link to a merchant.

    That said, I didn’t visit the site for a couple of months (other than to check my stats) so I don’t know if anything of what I said has been changed.

    My site is not a product review site, so I’m pleased with the results, but I must admit that I didn’t optimize my ads and I guess that further investigation will result me in better revenue.

    Hope this helps.

  22. Darren Rowse says:

    yep – moderating them for the morning now. Takes me an hour or so to get through them all when I get up :-)

  23. BW says:

    This looks neat.

    I could be wrong but as it seems to use an iFrame this might be good news for those using blogger.com.

    With Chitika you can’t put them inside a post on blogger (as it’s javascript – unless someone out there has done it).

    But looks like you can with Shopzilla.

    Just an observation

  24. Enrique says:

    Funny, I received by mail comments from this thread, but I don’t see them posted here.

    The system is sending by mail the unmoderated comments.

    Perhaps you may want to check that Darren.

  25. Mandy Parkin says:

    Thanks for the heads up Darren. I see that GPSreview.net has switched some of their Chitika inventory over to Shopzilla so this network must be on the up and up. But Shopzilla uses iframes to serve the ads. Do you think iframes will have a negative seo effect as compared to say adsense’s javascript?

  26. I have heard of Shopzilla and plan to check it out now, thanks!

  27. Rich Owings says:

    Darren,

    I’m wanting to try this out, but need to learn how to use the API first. I don’t want it to negatively impact my CPA / commission revenue. By using the API, I can select which merchants show up in results, thereby excluding ones I get commissions from (e.g., Amazon). But I don’t have the tech chops to pull it off. Any chance you could find a guest blogger who would walk us through using the Shopzilla API?

  28. Mandy Parkin says:

    I 2nd the call for a Shopzilla API tutorial Rich :)

  29. Learn SEO says:

    Thank you for the answer Darren. It is good to know from the comments that with API it performs as real PPC , i think I will have a closer look to shopzilla.

  30. Bookie says:

    Darren,

    I think Hyder makes one of the most important comments here regarding 2 clicks. If this is true then it dumps a bucket of cold water on it for me.

  31. Darren, are you moving away from declaring links as being affiliate links – I’ve noticed (and commented) a couple of times on this…? If I remember in the ‘good old days’ you had the habit of putting (aff) after any affiliate links, so that people are aware that they may be signing up to a service that has some return for yourself.

    I’m not suggesting your actions are wrong, just wondering if its a concious decision to no longer declare outright that a links is part of an affiliate program. The fact that you’ve managed to squeeze in 3 affiliate links and two live adverts from shopzilla made me ponder this issue.

    Cheers
    Dave

  32. MTT says:

    Want to see the revenue matters, how good it works who are using it.

  33. Madiator says:

    These kinds of ads are useful mostly in websites that are related to products. Its not of much use when someone runs a blog on Spirituality! The readers have very very low chance of clicking on products. But context relevant ads would help in such cases.
    By the way, I have an article on “How AdSense is becoming non sense”. Even though I am not a great user of adsense, I have written about the dark side of adsense.. comments are welcome to learn further more points if any..

  34. Darren Rowse says:

    Dave – yes I’m grappling with that at the moment. On one hand I’m feeling that as I write a blog about blogging for money that it almost goes without saying – I have made disclaimers so many times that sometimes I feel it goes without saying – however your comment reminds me that some new readers will not know. Guess I need to rethink my disclaimer policy again.

  35. Tinh says:

    Is ShopZilla open to all publishers outside of US? I have tried this for once but failed

  36. Darren, thanks for taking the time to reply. As a seasoned veteran of problogger (or so it feels!) I pretty much know without checking that most links, especially in posts like this, will contain affiliate links.

    Like you say, first time visitors may not be fully aware of this, but I’m not sure its that big an issue to do anything about.

  37. I’ll try it once it comes out beta, I generally don’t like programs in beta…

  38. Let me attempt to address a couple of comments at once.

    1. In response to BW’s comment about iframes, the answer is: Yes. We currently use iframes to deliver our ad units.

    2. In response to some of the comments about a “two click” program, in many cases we let publishers build ads that feature direct links to the product featured in the ad. For example, if you login to your publisher program account and build an ad based on the Keyword “Levis Jeans”, you will get a number ad unit options that feature direct product links. However, for product is one where Shopzilla can offer a “Compare Stores” experience, we provide the option for publishers to create ads that link to the list of stores that sell that product. Though, in addition to that, we also support ad units that feature direct product links to the top three (or more) merchant selling a particular product. Really, the best way to “grok” this is get log-in to your account and play around with different ads. (From the main account page, go to: Get Content > Top Search Results)

    3. In response to tutorials on the API, we’re attempting to address this in two ways. (a) We’ve created an ad unit option that allows you to specify a particular product and direct links to the top 5 stores that sell that product (From the main account page, go to: Get Content > Product Pods) .(b) We intend to provide some additional instructional tips on how to parse and serve the XML results from our API (but managing results from our API does require technical expertise).

    Shopzilla will continue to monitor the comments and respond appropriately. We look forward to you giving our program a try!

  39. This looks realy good! I can’t wait to give it a try!
    Thanks for sharing, and as always, for being so honest and thorough! *=)

    :)

  40. Bloggero says:

    “You get paid when anyone clicks on one of the ads on your site.” please … You are paid them the user click on their site.

  41. MJ Klein says:

    i run one of the most popular English blogs on Taiwan, and when i applied for Shopzilla, here is what i got for a reply:

    Thank you for applying to the Shopzilla Publisher Program. Unfortunately, your application can not be approved at this time.

    The site you submitted with your application does not meet the profile of sites we are currently accepting for our program.

    if their site profile requirements were on their website, i wouldn’t have wasted my time or theirs. so, just what are they looking for, anyway?

  42. MJ Klein says:

    i’ve been going back and forth with Talia from Shopzilla, and i gleaned this important piece of information from her in one email exchange:

    > We are currently only accepting shopping websites with a qualified and
    > pre-existing North American user base,

    i asked her what “shopping websites” means and this is what i got:

    By shopping websites, I mean sites that have to do with shopping.
    Product review sites, fashion blogs, etc. For example:

    and then she goes on to list a few examples.

    Darren, if this information has been available i never would have gone though the sign-up process and wasted my time and theirs. i suggested to Talia that they add this information to the sign-up page. i also said that i would inform you.

    thanks.

  43. Chris says:

    I signed up and was accepted in about 24 hours. I’m giving this a go as I’m tried of JohnChows TTZMedia. He removes about 50% of links shortchanging everyone!

    I think going directly to shopzilla should be better.

  44. Chris, going directly with Shopzilla is a good option since we — along with other syndicated sources of shopping ads — provide TTZMedia with its ads. So, going with Shopzilla essentially cuts out the middle-man between Publishers and ad providers such as TTZMedia, ShoppingAds.com, WidgetBucks and Chitika.

  45. OSONY says:

    Do you get paid when a reader clicks on a text link as well? There isn’t a lot of info in their FAQ. I was also curious if you could click on your own ads or links. I wanted to check where my text links were going but was afraid to. Their custom text links are awkward. In order to work in the text in the middle of a sentence you have to play around a bit unlike Amazon but all in all I like them. I am a big fan of text links.

  46. Gizmo says:

    I signed up with them awhile ago thinking that when you click on a link you get paid. When I emailed to find out why I wasn’t getting paid they told me that the reader has to click again through to the actual product page and not just to the search results. I found this aspect very unclear.

  47. Smilesquare says:

    I’ve applied twice to Shopzilla, my first application was denied because I use gmail as my email to applied to Shopzilla.

    For the second time I use [email protected] as my email to applied, and I was accepted to be Shopzilla publisher.

    Before applying to Shopzilla please read requirements below :

    Based on experience, to make the most of our relationship, acceptable website requirements include:

    -Sites targeting US visitors (Shopzilla.com exclusively serves US merchants & offers)
    -Sites with high Google page rank or Alexa trend/rank
    -Registrations with an email address corresponding with the domain name in order to verify site ownership

    We typically do not accept websites that represent:

    Ad Networks
    Adult Content
    Automotive Sales
    Healthcare
    Insurance or Credit
    Travel Services