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Froogle Reaches One-Year Milestone

By Adam Eisner, 1/13/2004

A little over a year ago, in the middle of the holiday shopping season and with
little fanfare, Google launched Froogle, a shopping comparison site.



A year later, both the notoriety and the quality of the product have improved.
And just like last year, Google recently made some key changes in quiet fashion
during the holiday season – most notably integrating Froogle search results
into Google’s. Searching for “dvd players” on Google, for example,
not only yields results from Google, but products and prices from Froogle’s
database as well.



Marissa Mayer, Director of Consumer Products at Google, says the change is part
of what Google calls its "one box" style, which aims to provide integrated
results from its search properties, including Google, Froogle and Google News. "The
idea is... there's a single box on Google where you can go and type pretty much
anything you are interested in or want and get results back,” she says.



The change coincided with what is expected to be a banner year for online retailers
thanks to more Internet-savvy consumers, an improving economy, and an increase
in home shoppers – all of which have benefited Froogle. "It definitely
seems to be a very healthy retail fall," Mayer says. "It seems to be
[that] we're seeing more online sales interest. We're seeing aggressive advertising
both on Google.com and as well as on Froogle… all signs would seem to point
to the fact that we're seeing increased savviness of online shoppers as well
as a healthy shopping season."



Aside from the recent integration of Froogle results with Google, Mayer says
the Froogle product itself has improved significantly over the past year. "We've
done a lot of work improving the quality and relevance of results," she
says. "I think that Froogle has improved vastly in its search capabilities." Several
new features the company believes improves the “product search experience” have
been introduced, including the ability to sort results by price, restrict by
price and restrict by category – all of which are ideas that came from
searchers themselves. "Those were all done in response to our user feedback,” Mayer
says.



Like Google, results at Froogle are based on relevance instead of cost. Mayer
encourages merchants that wish to be listed to use Froogle’s automated
feed, although sites can still get listed via an index that has been built on
results from Google.



"
We've gone through the Google index and we've discovered pages that appear to
be selling things,” Mayer says. "We've created a smaller search engine
based on that." This search engine approach is also what makes Froogle unique
compared to some of the Internet’s more popular shopping portals, but that
doesn’t mean similar sites aren’t keeping a close eye on Froogle. "We
don't want to underestimate them,” Ignacio “Iggy” Fanlo, Chief
Revenue Officer of Shopping.com, said in a recent interview. “They are
a formidable company, and the Web is littered with those that have underestimated
Google."



Smaller merchants also keep a close eye on Froogle, many of whom now directly
benefit from the site. “[Froogle] … only provides us with more visitors,
but also more targeted traffic, where folks are more likely comparison shopping
and/or actually looking to purchase something," says Liz Hekimian-Williams,
owner of Giftsprings, an online gift store that is listed in Froogle. And although
she points out a couple of small drawbacks to Froogle - such as trying to stand
out as a company when several retailers offer the same product – she says
she is “very happy” with Froogle. “We hope they will be able
to continue it for the benefit of both consumers and merchants,” she says.



As Google heads into 2004, the company’s products are receiving more public
attention than ever as IPO rumors swirl. Some of the issues that will arise for
Froogle will likely include expanding the site beyond the U.S. market (there
are no set plans at the moment, though Mayer says she thinks it “logically
makes sense to happen”), and taking Froogle out of beta. (Google says timing
to come out of beta will be discussed “in the coming future.”) And
although Mayer declined to reveal any specific plans for 2004, she says users
can expect Froogle to continue to develop and improve. "We really want to
help users to find the best place on the Web to buy their product,” she
says, and also points out that the site can benefit merchants as well. "We
have had a fantastic merchant response,” she says. “We have lots
of merchants participating – and they've been seeing good traffic and very
well-qualified leads.”

Adam Eisner is a regular contributor to Traffick.com. His current duties with Page Zero Media include pay-per-click campaign management and directing Page Zero's paid inclusion strategy. 

 

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