Microsoft has killed the free Live Product upload beta feature in favor of the newer Live Search Cashback program. Microsoft was quoted as saying it simply was redundant with the other offerings in the same platform. Fast food restaurants have known this for years…. Build your stores to closely together and they share profits, not grow them.
Many webmasters may feel that this switch is a problem, but of the many ecommerce sites we had using the free product upload service.. Not a one will miss them at all. So in my opinion the platform was indeed a failure, but in the end that’s why we use the term beta.
The Live Search cashback program is a bit of an affiliate thing, and its a bit tougher to manage…. But, this is not your standard cost per click situation. Utilizing this more search advertising type of platform in which Microsoft will use Microsoft and bids a cost-per-click amount against traditional buyers that use Microsoft’s AdCenter in order to place a value on these product Ads. Microsoft is said to have a specific team that will calculate out how much the new Ads are worth. This to me makes sense, as I have always said these products listings are still search marketing.
Now, not to worry if you still want to skate by for free… Microsoft will be including crawled and indexed listings in the cashback program. The value of using the paid service is really very clear to me as the benefits are quite important if you are going to make Live Product Search work for you. Here are the top benefits to using the paid cashback program as I see it.
- Control over your listings and listing updates – If any of you ever got a call from a shopper who found you on The Find, and the price was no longer valid will clearly understand the value of this control.
- Cashback bonuses for shoppers – Microsoft will be returning every penny for its share of the revenue directly to the consumer after the sale. So you have a better price and conversion opportunity, while losing nothing more than clicks. There has been scuttlebutt that this will not last, and is likely temporary… But just like everything else on the web… Change is inevitable.
- Compete with Pay per Click – Essentially, ecommerce has difficultly for many converting standard pay per click search marketing. These feeds and such have always been a better converting platform… Its just our arena. Now regular Microsoft PPC advertisers will have to bid against you in your arena… as well as the normal other advertisers.
Its worth noting that Cashback advertisers will be carrying the yellow/orange cashback icon… So if that turns out to be a competing factor, then you will need to enroll to get anything going in the future on Live Product Search. It is possible that shoppers will not be overly moved by the opportunity to get cashback 60 days later, after they have a $5 minimum and it then has to be requested… But there is also a concern for fraud. What will Microsoft be doing to followup on returns and refunds? Will shop owners be left holding the administrative bag…. or will they just be left holding the empty bag?
Also I wonder if Microsoft has considered the shrink. If you fail to provide a correct and valid email address they can never pay you. This could still have some cold hard cash in it for Microsoft yet. As a matter of fact there are quite a few things for shoppers to manage before they ca be paid… Including NOT using nPrivate Browsing in IE8. No closing your browser during the process eitherR