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Exploring Shopzilla [Interview]

In February I posted a first impression review of the Shopzilla Publisher Program.

Shopzilla

This CPC (cost per click) ad unit is similar to those used successfully by many with the Chitika program. There’s one live in action at the bottom of this post.

I’ve been getting some good feedback from quite a few ProBlogger readers who have tried the program and am consistently getting good results with them so I approached Shopzilla’s Senior Vice President of Operations and Business Development, David Weinrot, for an interview about the program. He kindly agreed. Here’s our chat about Shopzilla.

Can you describe Shopzilla to us in a few sentences?

Shopzilla.com, which operates both the Shopzilla.com and BizRate.com websites, is consistently ranked (by comScore) as the number 1 or 2 most visited comparison shopping site in the US. In addition, Shopzilla operates comparison shopping websites in the UK, France and Germany under the same brand names. Our comparison shopper features enable online buyers to compare prices on millions of different product offers from thousands of retailers. The comparison pricing information is complemented with detailed customer ratings of online retailers, which help buyers identify vendors with high reliability scores along dimensions that are important to them.

Shopzilla, Inc. is wholly owned by the E.W. Scripps Company.

Why did you start the Shopzilla Publisher Program?

Recognizing that the Internet allows all manner of content developers to publish their content and achieve broad market reach, Shopzilla introduced the Publisher Program as a way for those publishers to complement their content with our vast inventory of monetized product listings. In other words, we believe there is a market need to make our “where to buy” listings available to shoppers at any point of presence in their buying & purchase flow.

What does Shopzilla offer that other ad networks don’t that makes it attractive to bloggers?

One of the Publisher Program’s most distinguishing features relative to ad networks is that it is a “direct program” and is thus likely to result in higher monetization yields for publishers. Many of the popular ad networks actually utilize the Shopzilla Publisher Program as an underlying source of content for their own ad programs. As a result, publishers that use alternate ad programs generate only a portion of what they would otherwise generate if they used Shopzilla Publisher Program for the same set of monetized product listings.

Other meaningful features include the program’s link and ad building flexibility. In addition to having access to customizable, standard display ad units, publishers can create custom text links that point to any page on Shopzilla.com, and subsequently integrate them into editorial content. Most ad network programs do not offer the flexibility to link to specific and precisely targeted pages on the advertiser site nor do they enable publishers to tailor the ads in a way that make them most relevant to the page content.

We also think bloggers will appreciate our newly launched referral program, which allows participants in our publisher program to earn $25 for each account that they refer to the Shopzilla Publisher Program.

Do you accept all publishers into your program? If not – why not and how do you make decisions on who is accepted?

Shopzilla does not accept all publishers. Every application is manually accepted into the program by our dedicated Account Management team, led by Rex Roberts and Talia Drake, who you will find are incredibly accessibly and highly responsive to publisher support inquiries. While we do not disclose our approval guidelines, though we typically accept all bona fide US sites and select international sites that tailor to a US shopping market, subject them meeting our decency guidelines.

Do you have any restrictions on the location of publishers or on international traffic?

We do not have any specific restriction on where a publisher is domiciled. However, as previously mentioned, we approve sites that are tailored to the US market.

You’ve obviously seen a lot of publishers using your program – what type of publishers are doing best with it in terms of topics?

Without question, the most successful sites in our publisher program are those that produce editorial content around specific product categories. Niche and specialty retailers are consistently the highest yielding participants of our program; these publishers can command effective CPMs of up to $45. Sites that cover GPS, Digital Cameras, Televisions, MP3 Players, Fashion & Apparel, and Fitness & Athletics all seem to enjoy good success with our program. In addition, at the far end of the integration spectrum, there are content producers who utilize Shopzilla’s commercial API to build full-featured, stand-alone comparison shopping sites and shopping mash-ups. It’s really exciting to see what the publishing community is doing with our openly available content. Examples include ShoppingBounce.com who have built a comparison shopping mash-up as well as yourminis.com, which utilizes our API to publish facebook, typepad, and google widgets/gadgets.

What are the most successful publishers in your program doing well that makes them top earners (ie any practical tips that you have)

If I had to pin this down to two points, it would be: contextual relevance and deep integration. This doesn’t mean publishers have to use the API to accomplish this level of integration, but it certainly helps.

What plans do you have for the future of Shopzilla Publisher Program?

We’ve got big plans! We intend to launch this program to our international sites as well as release various reporting enhancements.

Here’s an example of a Shopzilla Ad

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! I’ve been using Chitika based on your past recommendations but I’ll check out Shopzilla now….

  2. Rich Owings says:

    Darren,

    I mentioned this the last time you discussed Shopzilla. Any chance you can find a tech type guest blogger who would walk us through using the API, step-by-step?

    I want to include only certain merchants, and exclude those I have affiliate relationships with like Amazon, so as not to reduce affiliate commissions. You can only do that using the API.

  3. Tinker says:

    Check out the Shopzilla WordPress Widget at ProBargainHunter. The source code is a good example of how you can integrate the API into the content

    http://probargainhunter.com/2008/02/26/shopzilla-wordpress-plugin-version-10/

  4. Jo L. says:

    They have a great support team and very responsive.

  5. I’m just curious if any readers have used shopzilla themselves, and what their experience has been with them?

  6. Frugal Dad says:

    I’ve had Shopzilla in a few targeted posts on my site and it has done fairly well.

  7. Rich Owings says:

    Tinker,

    Too bad my main site is not on WP!

  8. jhay says:

    Will give this a second-look. It’s a good time to learn more about APIs.

  9. Michael says:

    I’ve been a long time Chitika user and when I looked at my February audited reports they pulled an amazing 27% from the earnings. It appears their major product supplier, Shop.com has put pressure on them.

    So, essentially as of April 1st our Chitika earnings are down to a third of what they were in March.

    So… we are moving to get a better understanding of Shopzilla and how it functions. While we have not made up for the lost income we seem to be making good ground.

    Several of Shopzilla’s tools don’t work currently such as the direct link to a product text link.

    And yes we are using the Shopzilla WordPress plugin.

    Hopefully the techs at Shopzilla will come to realize that online merchants really need the ability to generate ads based on page title/post title.

    So far their tech support has been responsive and courteous. I’m sure as they begin to see the needs of publishers more nifty tools will emerge.

    I will say this, compared to Chitika, Shopzilla has a huge inventory to draw from, at least in our sector.

  10. Anthony says:

    Shopzilla may be good for publshier but its a scam for advertiser….
    I deposit $500 with shopzilla an within hours it was gone with only three or 5 order from that investment.

    More than 50% of the clicks was the result from click fraud….What would be nice if shopzilla and shopping.com have a flat fee where a advertiser pay one monthly fee and received unlimited traffic.
    I joined sortprice.com with such program…today is my first day with sortprice.com, I will wait a few days and see what type of traffic I received.

  11. Sangesh says:

    It is good to see new CPC (cost per click) for ad units which we can display in our websites/blog. I’ll definately check out Shopzilla.

  12. Luis Gross says:

    Hey Great Questions, I’ve heard of shopzilla before but never knew they had this program. Look’s like everybody else is doing good from it, I’ll give it a shot and see how it works out for me.

    - Luis Gross http://topbusinessreviews.com