Shopping search engine Smarter.com once only displayed listings from merchants who paid per-click for traffic referred to their sites. With a redesign and expected to launch today, the company has expanded to include non-paying listings, and expects the improved user experience to be good for advertisers.
"There's just a lot more [products] out there than what those merchants were able to give us," said Paul Willmes, product evangelist at Smarter.com. The company is a unit of MeziMedia, which also includes CouponMountain and MoreRebates.
In addition, the company is trying to build its index of products by welcoming cost-per-acquisition advertisers. Formerly, it focused on only those willing to pay on a cost-per-click basis.
To add to its index, the company has begun to send a crawler to retrieve product listings from the open Web. Willmes says the shift has resulted in a more than doubling its product database. The idea is consumers will respond to the added breadth and depth of listings by visiting more often, eventually expected to result in more leads delivered to advertisers.
With Smarter.com's new comprehensiveness comes an increased emphasis on soft goods, such as clothing. For those categories, the company has created a clustering technology to allow users to narrow searches by attributes such as brand, color, fabric and fit. Smarter.com believes allowing people to narrow results will result in advertisers receiving more qualified leads.
Smarter.com is playing catch-up with more well-known players that had a significant head start before it launched in 2004. Shopping.com, for one, began beefing up its unpaid listings in the name of comprehensiveness back in 2003.
"Now we really feel that from a technology standpoint, we're right there [with the bigger players]," said Willmes.
The company doesn't plan to make any significant changes to its marketing efforts to promote the relaunch. Smarter.com gets most of its traffic from search engine marketing, buying traffic from the larger, higher-volume general engines.
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Pamela Parker is a former managing editor of ClickZ News, Features, and Experts. She's been covering interactive advertising and marketing since the boom days of 1999, chronicling the dot-com crash and the subsequent rise of the medium. Before working at ClickZ, Parker was associate editor at @NY, a pioneering Web site and e-mail newsletter covering New York new media start-ups. Parker received a master's degree in journalism, with a concentration in new media, from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
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