June 1, 2007, 12:00 AM

A sea of shoppers

(Page 3 of 3)

Whether an engine provides a customer experience on par with what shoppers have come to expect at larger and more established engines is but one question marketers should ask themselves when exploring niche engines, experts say.

Another question relates to the tradeoff of volume for qualified shoppers. That’s a key premise in the value proposition touted by vertical product search engines. But, strategically speaking, does shrinking the audience down to only the most qualified prospects offset the far larger number of potential customers to which a product is exposed on major general engines?

Nope, consultants say. “We use vertical search engines in the retail space as a component for incremental volume,” Greizter says. “The majority of our clients’ advertising budgets are still going toward the major search engines. But we are recommending, especially for clients in categories like retail where there is a developed set of vertical engines, that clients explore those as well.”

Perhaps the best advice for retailers considering vertical search marketing is to revisit something they already know about when adding any new initiative: the importance of testing before jumping in, and being able to analyze test results. “Traffic isn’t really what is going to help marketers with their goals-they need to understand the revenue return they get based on what they spend,” McMahon says. “The smartest thing to do before anyone makes any buy is to have tracking and analytics in place to be able to evaluate return.”

mary@verticalwebmedia.com

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