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November 15th, 2006, 01:15 PM #1
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- January 4th, 2006
Was trying to think of a way i at least could contribute to this thread without sounding arrogant or something. But to cut it short, what you suggest simply wont happen because (and many might doubt) you just wont get merchants to adhere to it or even in a lot of cases able to do it. You would of thought a basic csv would not be a problem but you will not believe how many market leaders who cant even get a feed out to affiliates.
If you push for standardisation then most of the time you simply wont get the feeds and any feeds we do have generally come out as they are the best the networks could get within a reasonable period of time.
The other thing is the cost of producing a definitive "standard", despite contradictions it is possible to make one set standard that will work for ALL industries/markets but then you increase the complexity for affiliates to work with them and also push too much complexity on the merchants that you probably wont get what you asked for to begin with.
Seperately you are presuming that the merchants have the data that you are expecting to get, most merchants data feeds come from simple dumps of their online stores, the data was not assembled in the first place for marketing purposes, it was entered (often manually) as html in the form of a description and so isolating one particular bit of information to give you a "feature" or a specification might often be impossible, same with model numbers, a lot of ecommerce setups just have a product name field so isolating the model number sometimes doesnt work, let alone making it standard.
I agree that should the merchant do a lot more in the feeds the work of the affiliate becomes less, but then the general competition increases within affiliates anyway because more and more people can use them effectively.
I know many affiliates chase a dream of wanting to be able to make price comparison sites etc with the data to the scale of shopping.com or pricegrabber but for most of these affiliates they havent gone through the learning curve that says standardisation of the data really is just 10% of the work, if not less.
My experience in data feed management is quite high, both as a network manager and also as a software developer and from probably 4 or 5 years experience i would say standardisation will not work, not from a technical point of view or a genuine will from us lot to do it, but from simply a fact it requires humans to adhere to it, and we wont do it. To give you an example of this even after tens of thousands of pounds worth of development, universal data feed parsers and extractors with probably over 100 different data normalisation processes and fixes we still come across merchants that cant adhere to the most basic of principles which is purely "just give us a file, any file, spreadsheet, csv, xml anything just give us a file". Sure some will always be able to do more and some merchants will do anything for you, but in reality these only represent around 4% of the total market and even then there is more room for error the more specification you load on them.
I dont mean to write this as a stopper to the conversation, experience alone kind of tells me you will always find a load of techies that are up for the challenge, i can give some examples if you want when i get a bit of time but i would suggest that the idea of standardisation would not work, (can you ever see CJ even beginning to make anything remotely the same as other networks even if it made them more sales?) Network arrogance alone will kill the project dead even before it starts!
I am always interested in these conversations as some of you know we vend data management engines to networks/affiliates etc as well as provide code to price comparison engines so data feeds are kind of our bag but it is very hard to explain to some people the huge mammoth tasks involved in purely the data management let alone applications such as price comparison as well.
Will be interesting to see how this thread pans out but i think i can remember dozens of these type discussions just dying out quite quickly
November 15th, 2006, 03:00 PM #2
Where you see an impossibility, I see an opportunity. I think a datafeeds are the gateway to "targeted products" and they are a necessary evil to achieve that goal. I agree with you that they are the first hurdle, and possibly the hardest to overcome - but nothing that a bit of elbowgrease couldn't take care of.
I personally would love to see a standard, even if it just a way to understand why a feed does not follow the standard and how we can get there. It is a starting point and a destination - ideally where we would like merchants to be in regards to datafeeds.
my two cents..
November 15th, 2006, 03:07 PM #3
Was this meant to be a response to an existing thread? It feels somewhat out of place as a new thread.
- ScottHatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.
November 15th, 2006, 03:19 PM #4
- Join Date
- January 4th, 2006
wrong thread sir, was supposed to be in the standardisation feed but since you posted here i will clarify.
I too see a challenge, that is why to date we are the only company that have bespoke code to handle data from networks in over 30 countries, this as with you was a challenge, which was in need of being overcome. But the challenge was not to unite the world, but to understand the problems and overcome them with a software application, without the need of standardisation or mass common goal spirit.
These types of conversations can always lead to boiling pots but the "reality" is (forget challenges for the moment) that merchant have had long enough time to learn how to make a simple csv file and they still make errors all the time. It is like anything else human nature.
Again, all i can do is offer my two cents as well but my two cents was earned from doing this for the last 3 or 4 years and from well over 10,000 data feeds and wouldnt like to think how many 100's of millions of products that have passed through our servers.
Dont get me wrong, i am 100% there for standardisation but if it was at all possible then i would of spent my money working on getting merchants to adhere to it, not spend tens of thousands on code to get over the problems. Further examples come from the weight of affiliates as well, for us when we ask a merchant to do something they generally do, mainly because we generate more than 30 million pounds worth of merchant sales a year and thats just from a few product categories, even then you would be suprised how many dipstick merchant programmers will give the merchant 101 reasons why something cant be done rather than can.
Imagine this, many many programmers have a complex (i call it big penis syndrome) and you will very rarely get past people like that and they sit on their throne as the "chief technical mcdonalds graduate ike" and will say cant be done all day to their marketing people, or the ecommerce carts were not made inhouse and require support tickets or outsource programming, it just wont happen getting through these people and if it will (enough to make this "idea" a success) then it will be the first i heard about it in over 5000 merchants.
Anyway, i think i drawn myself into this, it is not to be negative but there are more than one way to get the same objective of good data whether standardised or not. relying on the merchants themselves i would "suggest" is not one of them.
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Hope at least something in the above is useful
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