By Phil Barrett

Google recently released a report on the rise of comparison shopping, quantifying the growing trend as brand loyalty continues to decrease and shoppers are slower to pull the trigger, looking for the best product or waiting around for the best deal. As this consumer behavior has become the norm, many publishers – from Gawker, to Lifehacker, to Business Insider, to Food & Wine – have capitalized on comparison shopping. But many have only gone as far as offering holiday gift guides, product comparisons, or other sales-orientated content to their readers.

Just as consumers are fickle about brands, looking for the best deal, they can be fickle about content. Oversaturating users with products won’t keep them coming back – they seek unique, quality information that makes purchase decisions easier, as more and more product choices and shopping destinations (online and off) flood the market. Today’s consumers are looking for content and tools to help them make the most informed purchase possible, and publishers are uniquely suited to sit in the middle of that transaction in ways that extend beyond traditional content.

Many publishers have already diversified to meet this emerging need, creating tools that act as service extensions on top of their content. This can lead to user loyalty, which generates repeat traffic that you don’t have to acquire otherwise. TripAdvisor, for example, has created an engaged and loyal audience by offering its users helpful content in the form of reviews and expert advice along with booking services that together serve a very specific need, travel in this case. It’s low-funnel marketing at its best and it’s helping boost the bottom line.

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