Earlier this week, the comparison shopping engine Pronto announced via email that, beginning November 20th
, they would no longer work directly with retailers to publish ads to their site. Prior to this date, advertisers could submit a product feed directly to Pronto with tailored bids and product filters based on Pronto’s individual performance. Under the new setup, Pronto will only operate as a partner site to other comparison shopping engines, relying on the product data that advertisers provide to those other engines. Some test searches pointed to Pricegrabber as the most prominent supplier of products to Pronto’s current search results.
This is not a major change to how Pronto has operated in the past. Even when working directly with Pronto was an option, we saw it serve as a partner site to a variety of other comparison shopping engines. Ad service was largely determined by bid, which essentially made retailers compete against themselves. This move by Pronto may seem like it supports the idea that CSEs are dying. That is not the case. Pronto has not been a major player in the space for some time and it has not innovated enough to stay competitive. After Google moved to a paid Google Shopping model we saw other engines like the eBay Commerce Network and Pricegrabber evolve their platforms to remain competitive. As a result, we continue to see year-over-year increases in performance and higher ROI totals for both than we see for Google text ads and PLAs. We believe this move is a good one for the overall comparison shopping engine space. Retailers can now focus more on their higher-volume engines to produce significant traffic and get the best results possible out of their CSE program.