We tested 15,000 products and achieve a conversion ratio of 13%



Test Number: #0120502-SE

Word Count: 3000+

Focus: 12 Questions

  1. What is DealTime?
  2. How is DealTime different from Google and Overture?
  3. How has DealTime’s advertising program changed?
  4. How effective is DealTime?
  5. What are DealTime’s unique strengths?
  6. Which comparison search engines have the best conversion ratios?
  7. How can you set up a DealTime campaign?
  8. What are the minimum bids for DealTime’s main categories?
  9. For what type of merchants is DealTime best suited?
  10. On what other sites does a DealTime listing appear?
  11. How can you achieve a high click-through ratio and a strong ROI with the DealTime merchant program?
  12. What other comparison search engines can you use to promote your products?


  1. Writer – Flint McGlaughlin
  2. HTML Designer – Cliff Rainer
  3. Contributors – Brian Alt
    Austin Taylor
    Jimmy Ellis

*** Note: This is the THIRD report in our new MEC MARKETING TRACK. The Marketing Track is a series of experiments designed to help you grow your website over the next six months.


We test traditional search engines. Is Yahoo! worth the express submission fees? How can you get high rankings? What about AltaVista, MSN, and others? On what engines do you really need to be listed?

What if you could double your conversion ratio and increase your site traffic without investing another nickel in Google or Overture?

Is there an alternative to these popular but increasingly expensive search engines?

Enter DealTime.

According to Nielsen//NetRatings, DealTime is now one of the top 10 shopping sites in the U.S. It attracts more shoppers than all but handful of the world’s largest online retailers, yet remains overlooked by the majority of Internet marketers.

Researchers at were determined to discover whether or not DealTime was a viable option in this increasingly competitive marketplace.

But it was not without some trepidation…

In the past, we have researched more than a dozen other pay search engines. Almost all of these have been a grave disappointment. While they might have attractive prices, they could not generate enough traffic to make the set-up worthwhile.

Is DealTime any different?

Here is what we discovered.

What is DealTime?

The answer to that question should be examined from two different perspectives.

FROM THE SHOPPER’S PERSPECTIVE, DealTime is a free service that makes comparing products, prices, and stores easier. The service involves four steps:

  1. Choose a category or product.
  2. Search hundreds of stores instantly.
  3. Compare prices.
  4. Connect to the store that has what you want.

FROM THE MERCHANTS PERSPECTIVE, DealTime is a comparison search engine that charges its merchants on a cost-per-click basis. The service involves four steps:

  1. You enroll in the program and determine how much you will pay for each subcategory.
  2. DealTime collects all of your inventory and pricing information from your website.
  3. Your products appear in the search results according to how much you are willing to pay for each subcategory.
  4. You monitor your pricing on DealTime and make changes to maximize your ROI.

Here is a sample listing:

Here is a link to the DealTime FAQ:

How is DealTime different from Google and Overture?

DealTime shares some similarities with Overture and Google. Like its two venerable competitors, DealTime charges on a cost-per-click basis. And like Google and Overture, the higher the bid the more prominent the listing.

But the similarities end here. DealTime is essentially a comparison search engine. And as such, it may generate more qualified traffic.

These are some of the key differences:

  1. A lead from DealTime has (generally) progressed further in the purchase decision process than a lead from a paid listing engine such as Overture or Google.
  2. DealTime provides a potential buyer with far more specific shopping information, including price, product availability, images, and shipping charges.A lead that arrives at your site from DealTime has already gleaned the decision data he needs to make a purchase. He or she has selected your offering after reviewing the offerings of your competitors, and with one click has arrived at your product ordering page.
  3. Cost per click on DealTime is typically lower than on Overture or Google.
  4. Set-up on DealTime takes longer and can be more complex than set-up on Overture’s platform, but this liability may be offset by two key elements.
    • On DealTime, there is no need to update links for hundreds of keywords.
    • On DealTime, it is easier to track performance; you have a limited number of subcategory bids rather than hundreds of individual keyword bids.

How has DealTime’s advertising program changed?

Throughout 2002, DealTime has implemented a number of changes to improve the performance of their website for merchants and customers.

  1. DealTime has simplified and automated merchant sign-ups. This was completed in June of 2002.
  2. DealTime has instituted a custom pricing system that empowers a merchant to choose what they want to pay for a lead (subject to category-specific minimums). This was also added in June of 2002.
  3. DealTime has made it easier to monitor the merchant’s cost and traffic performance on a hourly, daily, and weekly basis. This was part of the changes made in June of 2002.
  4. DealTime has enabled merchants to include phone numbers on search listings since some buyers prefer to call the merchant rather than buy from the merchant online. This functionality was added in October of 2002.
  5. DealTime has added more product-specific searches and popularity-ranked results. This effort began in September of 2002, and DealTime continues to expand this feature for more categories. For example:
  6. DealTime has added tax and shipping data. This feature was added in April of 2002. For example:
    Scanners/FD-7/PD-20177280/GS ID-d18d15258e8b741a39bb2cda/product-overview.html
  7. Early in 2002, DealTime instituted a “StoreFinder” interface to help consumers looking for products in categories that do not have model numbers. For example:
  8. DealTime has implemented merchant reviews, which improve conversion for reliable merchants. This was launched in October 2001, at which point some less reliable merchants actually left DealTime, thus benefiting the reliable merchants that remained or that have joined since. For example:

How effective is DealTime?

In November 2002, we analyzed the DealTime click-through data for more than 15,000 different products. We discovered the following:

November 2002 DealTime Click-Through Analysis
Total Clicks 31,167
Total Sales 4,142
Conversion Rate 13.3%
Total Revenue $1,236,214.28
Average Revenue Per Sale $298.46
Revenue Per Click $39.66

What you need to UNDERSTAND: DealTime traffic converted at an extremely high rate of 13.3%

DealTime’s conversion ratio has improved. In a separate study that we conducted in April 2002, the site’s conversion ratio was a respectable, but much lower 2.85%

What are DealTime’s unique strengths?

  1. DealTime has a broader range of categories than any other comparison search engine with significant traffic.
  2. DealTime captures highly qualified leads.DealTime provides users with the information they need (including product images and specs, product popularity, user reviews, product availability, and pricing) BEFORE they click through to your site. Shoppers sort and compare BEFORE merchants pay for the click-through.In contrast, Overture and Google AdWords links do not provide the data that shoppers require before they are willing to complete a purchase.
  3. DealTime attracts more shoppers than most (if not all) of the other comparison search engines.DealTime’s base of unique shoppers has tripled over the past year.
TOP SHOPPING DIRECTORIES AND GUIDES (Nielsen//NetRatings – October 2002)
Brand/Channel U.S. Unique
Audience (000)
Number of Visits
Yahoo!Shopping 29,487 65,461
MSN Shopping 11,038 23,732
DealTime 7,584 11,983
AOL Shopping 6,449 6,449
BizRate Shopping 4,752 7,128 3,089 3,676
NexTag 2,793 3,910
PriceGrabber 2,234 3,217
MySimon 1,946 2,685

What you need to UNDERSTAND: DealTime ranks number three in unique audience and visits.

In summary, comparison search engines may attract more qualified leads than the regular pay-per-click engines. And of the comparison search engines, DealTime offers the hopeful merchant more traffic and a broader range of categories.

Which comparison search engines have the best conversion ratios?

This data was gleaned in April 2002. It appeared in our research report for test #040102-SE. We analyzed 60 days of data featuring 40,000 products across 12 different comparison search engines.

You can view the complete report here.

Totals for the two-month period February 15, 2002 – April 15, 2002
Sessions 5,014
Orders 104
Conversion Rate 2.07%
Sessions 4,191
Orders 106
Conversion Rate 2.53%
Sessions 1,251
Orders 34
Conversion Rate 2.72%
Sessions 18,460
Orders 526
Conversion Rate 2.85%
Sessions 34,115
Orders 1,170
Conversion Rate 3.43%
Sessions 10,918
Orders 376
Conversion Rate 3.44%
Sessions 8,543
Orders 331
Conversion Rate 3.87%
Sessions 102,503
Orders 4,527
Conversion Rate 4.42%
Sessions 6,524
Orders 306
Conversion Rate 4.69%
Sessions 1,321
Orders 75
Conversion Rate 5.68%
Sessions 39,906
Orders 2,360
Conversion Rate 5.91%
Sessions 33,864
Orders 2,126
Conversion Rate 6.28%


Section 2 (Continue…)

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