Shopzilla unveiled its publisher program on May 1st, 2007. One of the leading comparison-shopping sites on the internet, Shopzilla boasts an index of over 30-million products from more than 92,000 stores.

Acquired in 2005 by The E. W. Scripps Company (NYSE: SSP), Shopzilla also operates the BizRate consumer feedback network that collects millions of consumer reviews of stores and products each year.

Shopzilla’s publisher program differentiates itself from other shopping/product affiliate programs in that it does not pay out a commission rate such as CPA, but through CPC instead. According to David Weinrot, Shopzilla's Vice President of Content Marketing and Operations, "The program marries the monetization of pay-per-click syndicated advertising programs such as AdSense with the product breadth of Amazon's Associates Program.”

Shopzilla’s publisher program is currently in beta mode, but is up and running and accepting publishers. However, since it is in beta mode, there are a few minor glitches and missing features which should hopefully be resolved soon.

With access to over 30-million products, Shopzilla is comparable to Amazon in terms of product scope and size. With such a large product database, publishers are offered a lot of choice in terms of creating ads for particular products.

Unlike the vast majority of shopping/product programs, Shopzilla does not pay out in CPA or by commission, but through CPC. Like Google's AdSense, Shopzilla does not publicly diclose its revenue share. Another resemblance to AdSense Shopzilla shares is that there is no quick method or calculation a publisher can calculate to estimate their earnings, since it can vary greatly depending on the niche and conversion rate.

Thus, unlike other ad networks such as ValueClick Media and Tribal Fusion in which publishers can see the exact CPC or CPM for each ad before they try them, publishers with Shopzilla will need to actually implement and test Shopzilla's ads to see how they perform. Again, this is similar to AdSense which can perform great on some sites but not-so great on others.

Signing Up
Signing up to Shopzilla’s publisher program is fast and easy, but does require US citizens who are not tax exempt to enter their tax identification or social security number.

While they list no prerequisites or requirements for publishers on their site, Shopzilla does turn down applicants whose sites do not seem of decent quality. Thus, publishers looking to use Shopzilla on a small personal blog or website with very little traffic or content will probably not be accepted.

Approval (or declination) to Shopzilla’s publisher program typically takes between 1-2 business days if sent outside of regular business hours, otherwise publishers can expect a representative to follow up within an hour or two.

Control Panel

Enlarge (Pop-Up)Shopzilla’s control panel is very easy to use with its clean and crisp interface which loads fast and is very responsive. It’s intuitive and allows publishers easy management of their account and access to ads.

Reporting is updated daily at around 8:15am Pacific Time, and reports are available for download.

Shopzilla offers a tracking system which they refer to as Placement IDs, and publishers may create up to 99-unique Placement IDs. This is a useful feature as tracking ads and learning which positions and sizes perform best is a very important step in obtaining better ad optimization. Publishers can label each Placement ID for easier identification (Ex. 1 = Top 468x60 Banner, 2 = Side 120x600 Skyscraper, etc.).

Ad Creative

Enlarge (Pop-Up)Due to heavy demand, Shopzilla recently implemented custom ad integration to both the Top Search banners and Product Pods. Publishers can customize the background, border, link, and text colors in order to make the ads more integrated. Unfortunately though, ad customization is limited to these two formats only and is not available for other ad creative such as Search Boxes or Banners.

While Shopzilla has a large selection of products to choose from for use of their Product Pods ads (similar to Amazon’s), their number of various banner sizes for linking to Shopzilla categories is severely limited usually only offering 1-2 banners per category. Shopzilla needs to dramatically increase their number of banner creative available for categories if they expect publishers to use them.

In addition to Product Pods and category banners, Shopzilla also offers product banners (which are available in many ad sizes unlike their department category), text links, search boxes, and RSS feeds.

Shopzilla pays out in monthly installments on Net-30 payment terms. There is a $50 minimum payment requirement, and payments can be sent via check or PayPal.

Referral Program
Shopzilla does not currently offer a referral program.

Customer Support
The only way to contact Shopzilla is through their contact form, although their response time is pretty fast, usually responding within one business day.

Shopzilla's complete absence of ad customization unfortunately hinders its use since it is commonly known that proper ad integration is vital to optimizing earning and converstion rates. In addition, their availability of various ad creative for their banners is severely lacking.

While Shopzilla certainly needs to work on their ad creative department, they do have the benefit of being a reputable company, having been in the industry since 1996 and being one of the leading comparison-shopping sites on the Internet. It is also important to note that Shopzilla’s publisher program is still in beta, so hopefully they will confront and resolve some of the issues pointed out in this review.

Nevertheless, when compared to other shopping and product affiliate programs available such as Amazon’s Associates program, Shopzilla falls short and wouldn’t be recommended at this time when there are other plenty of alternatives available. However, if Shopzilla continues to work and improve on their publisher program which already has a strong foundation, they may give Amazon some competition.

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