Archive for the 'ConsensusBest' Category

Picture Perfect Point-and-Shoots

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It’s no coincidence that the top11 point-and-shoot digital cameras, and 14 of the top 20, on Amazon.com’s bestseller list are from Canon. We’ve been updating the ConsensusBest digital camera lists (as with any electronics, the constant flood of new products makes that a challenge) and were struck by the popularity of so many Canon models. Of course, they also make some popular and well-reviewed digital SLR’s. But there’s also plenty of Nikon’s on our list, and we’ve been hearing great things about some of their newer models, (and that Amazon list reflects the greater competition there). Take a look at the current list and then, if you’re still deliberating on which model to buy, check back soon and see which models are up, down, or new to the list.

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The Problem With Algorithms

Become.comIf you look at this screenshot, you’ll see one of the problems with the search-reliant product research approach. Become.com is a sometimes useful shopping/research search engine that recently added a bunch up upgrades, but it has its limitations.

In this example, the shopping silo on the right knows that I’m looking for the kind of crib that a baby sleeps in, but the research silo on the right is convinced that I’m interested in either the band or the MTV show of the same name. In fact, not one of the 27 results returned has to do with baby cribs, so the research engine clearly has no idea what I’m looking for.

To be fair, changing the query to “baby cribs” yields something closer to the results I want, but that requires a wasted query and wasted time. It’s a good example of why at ConsensusBest we favor the human approach. It’s more grudge work for us, but less for you. That’s the idea. It also doesn’t touch as many sources as a search engine, but as you can see, we think that’s a good thing.

More Proof that there’s Plenty of Time to be Saved in Online Research

From Greg Sterling comes word of a joint study from Yahoo! and the Consumer Electronics Association there was some compelling, if familiar, data showing that nearly three-quarters of shoppers who research electronics on the Internet end up buying the product at a bricks-and-mortar store. That jibes with the number we’ve been using in our pitch to retailers and consumers that we got last year courtesy of The Kelsey Group (not coincidentally, Sterling’s former employer).

But we were even more interested in the findings that related to just how much time people spend doing this research. According to the study, folks spend an average of 12 hours digging through an average of six manufacturer and/or retailer sites before deciding which product is right for them. It ranges from a low of 9 hours of research for cell phones to 15 hours for TVs. I know people who spend less time shopping for houses, but these numbers ring true to us as you can see in one example of our time spent researching the heck out of a particular category.

All of which is to say that there’s a lot of time that we can help you save by doing much of the research for you and pulling the findings together into one, easy-to-navigate site.

Not finding the body of the study itself, we’re left with one big question: did the people surveyed really only visit manufacturer and retailer sites? Hard to believe. How many review and/or editorial sites did they visit? Which ones? Being a Yahoo! study, I’m sure they were interested to know how many people used Yahoo! Tech, CNET, etc. It would be nice to know.

Sorry folks!

Our sincerest apologies to those of you who sent feedback through consensusbest.com. When you hit the send button, we told you that we’d get back to you. We didn’t. And for that we’re sorry. We recently discovered and fixed an e-mail glitch, but messages sent prior to the fix were, unfortunately, lost.

We appreciate your taking the time to provide us with valuable feedback. We can assure you that all systems are now “go” and anyone who sends a message will receive a prompt response. Thanks again for your time and interest in ConsensusBest.

Google – Froogle + Base = More Product Info in Google Search Results

There’s been plenty of talk today about Google’s plans to better integrate Google Base data into Google search results. This makes sense given that most product searches are happening in the main Google search box and not in Google’s shopping vertical, Froogle.

It also makes perfect sense, then, to put product reviews in there right alongside other, structured product information in the organic results and make the whole search experience more efficient for active shopping researchers. So, we weren’t surprised to see a Google house ad atop results for the “product reviews” query that encourages the uploading of reviews to Base.
We’ve talked before about the appeal of structured data in general, and Microformats in particular, for serving up all kinds of product and review information. It will be interesting to see how Google’s efforts here and the competing Microformats (which are used by Yahoo! Tech, for one) movement play out.

In the meantime, we’ll likely be doing some bulk uploading of our recommendations in hopes of putting some trusted review information and local store data in front of searchers next to other product information.

We’re Up!

ConsensusBest.com is now online! It’s a place where people with a passion for everything from kitchen knives to tread mills research all the most trusted, independent sources and come up with a list of the “Consensus Best” ones. In doing so, we save you a bunch of time by cutting through the information clutter, and bring you insights that no search engine alone can provide. But we don’t just tell you about the best products, we also show you where you can buy them near you. We’re aiming to provide the missing link between online research and local, in-store shopping, where the vast majority of purchases still take place.

It’s a work in progress. With a combination of hard work and insight from a knowledgeable community of users, we hope to quickly add new features, and expand our product categories and the reach of local store listings. Here’s a quick look at what you’ll find on the site right now:

1. More than 300 product recommendations in six categories arranged by price category, including baby products and cell phones with more being added all the time.

2. Category-by-category listings of the criteria that went into determine the best products and some insight into our research.

3. Local store listings of retailers that carry ConsensusBest-listed products. We have about 150 retailers in some 300 locations in the 56 zip codes of our home-base in New York’s mid-Hudson Valley. Users outside our area can still view our product listings and access data on locations near them of national retailers. We plan to quickly expand the geographic reach and the comprehensiveness of our local store data.

4. A place for users to share their own thoughts and opinions on a particular product or category.

So, check out the site and let us know what you think. Through a combination of hard work and feedback from knowledgeable users, we plan to make Consensusbest.com the consumer’s trusted source of information on the best products and where to buy them locally.

Check back here or subscribe to our blog feed for updates on new interactive features, product categories, and local store coverage areas.

Thanks,

The ConsensusBest Team