Parent or child feeds for the CSEs?

By Tinuiti Team

What type of feed should I use for the Comparison Shopping Engines (CSEs)?

Just like world domination, the surest way towards Comparison Shopping success is through planning.

Step 1-  Choose a data feed format.

When setting up an account, one of the most important things to be concerned with is the product feed.

Product feed format and contents are important variables, particularly in trouble shooting why a  specific feed may have been rejected.

Before you load your product feed however- take a second to optimize, and decide which feed should be used on which engine.

What types of Product Feeds are there?

Child Product feed

Child Product feed
Child Product Feed Snippet

A child product feed is typically inclusive of all of a merchant’s products. For most merchants (particularly those with soft goods), this means all the variations of products. The above “Cotton Twill Skirt” comes in different colors and sizes, all of which constitute their own individual listing and MPN.

Parent Product feed

Contrastingly a parent feed only contains those umbrella products, without any variations. So all of the base products the merchant sells, but none of their specific variations. This is seen in the example below, in which each product is unique, and has no variants. Obviously, there is no blue  version of the “Acne Be Gone! Kit.” However, even if there was, this merchant has the option to choose whether to include it by deciding which type of product feed to use.

Parent Product feed sample
Parent Product Feed Snippet

Which Product Feed should I use?

Child feeds can get pretty large, depending on the size of the merchant. Accordingly,  using a child product feed can increased exposure.

However, as those who manage product feeds and or CSEs know, increased exposure does not always correlate with increased conversions.

When listing a child product feed on pay per click (PPC/CPC)  CSEs merchants run the risk of having customers browse through the CSE, rather than the seller site- which can lead to unnecessary clicks, and increased COS. Typically parent products are just as relevant as child products for long tail searches, so inversely–not including them shouldn’t hurt conversion rates.

While using child product feeds is not a great tactic for paid CSEs- they a solid product feed choice for the free comparison engines (eg. Google Shopping). Since sellers are not being charged for each click, using a child feed leadsto more exposure, and the higher likelihood of conversions. Without the complication of CPC costs, and the potential of increased COS.

The Panacea Product Feed

While these are generally good tactics, deciding which feed to use for which engine ultimately depends on the merchant, and variables associated with the account.

There is no one perfect feed format for everyone, and sometimes the type of product feed used should be changed.

Keep in mind the direction your CSE accounts will go. Will you need to cut a lot of products in future? Is the CPC for most of your categories high or low? Being knowledgeable about these and related account specifics, will save you time later.

Experiment with feed format

It can also be valuable to experiment with the type of feed you are sending to CSEs, to see which  performs better on certain engines.

Ideally you’d like to try this with engine’s which can compensate if the results are bad, such as Pricegrabber- which has a zero bidding option, or engine’s which you know perform particularly well in your product category.

Also keep in mind variables such as season, sales, and top selling products.

Dominate with these tips and tricks!

Optimizing key words in your feed

Know your product feed

Rich Snippets in your feed

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