Auction-based CPC network skips the search engines and instead targets shoppers already on retail sites.
With this week's addition of CircuitCity.com into its paid search network for manufacturer and retailer advertisers, Guidester is expanding an initiative it launched last March, more or less in stealth mode.
The Guidester tool, which helps consumers make shopping decisions, is free to e-tailers. The "Guidester" steers consumers through their decision making process by posing questions about desired product attributes (megapixels, price, size and brand of a digital camera, for example) then displaying a list of the e-tailers' products that match those criteria. The model is similar to that used in the brick-and-mortar retailing world, in which manufacturers often pay to have their products placed on eye-level shelves. Currently, the tool is deployed primarily by consumer electronics retailers including CompUSA, TigerDirect, and C|Net's shopping section.
Since mid-March, the company has offered manufacturers the opportunity to bid for "sponsored match" results via a bidding engine very similar to the ones used by the search engines. The CPC product, dubbed AdMatch, display products with the highest bids as the top results returned by the decision tool. Paid results appear only when they actually match the consumers' queries.
"Our interest was in building traffic," CEO Joe Chin told ClickZ News. "We've recently tried to rethink that." The company is now concentrating on advertising. "This is a way for content sites to monetize without ads," added Chin. Sites using the Guidester tool receive a percentage of the CPC that varies by category, though Chin wouldn't specify how much.
AdMatch displays sponsored results across all sites in the network carrying the relevant product. Chin says bids currently run from a minimum 5 cents up to 30 cents. Advertisers are able to set daily maximum bids per product, as well as make on-the-fly changes to bids, campaigns (determined by product group) and budget. The auction product also offers reporting on product and category levels including impressions, CTR, average CPC and average position in search results.
Early advertisers include Olympus, HP, Sharp, and Whirlpool. Chin claims all are seeing higher than average ROI, though he won't share more precise figures. He also said these manufacturers work directly with Guidester, rather than through agencies or SEMs, to manage their accounts.
Guidester soft-launched a new version of its site tool on AbesofMaine.com's digital camera section last week. The new tool's look and feel is more fully integrated with the site, and it refreshes the product display each time new criteria are entered by the consumer.
Chin says the company is eager to move into new verticals. High on the list are travel, housewares, finance, vehicles, baby products, and toys/games.
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Rebecca was previously VP, U.S. operations of Econsultancy, an independent source of advice and insight on digital marketing and e-commerce. Earlier, she held executive marketing and communications positions at strategic e-services companies, including Siegel & Gale, and has worked in the same capacity for global entertainment and media companies, including Universal Television & Networks Group (formerly USA Networks International) and Bertelsmann's RTL Television. As a journalist, she's written on media for numerous publications, including "The New York Times" and "The Wall Street Journal." Rebecca spent five years as Variety's Berlin-based German/Eastern European bureau chief. Rebecca also taught at New York University's Center for Publishing, where she also served on the Electronic Publishing Advisory Group. Rebecca, author of "The Truth About Search Engine Optimization," was ClickZ's editor-in-chief for over seven years.
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