Friday, 5 October 2012

Thinking of Selling Your Products Via Kelkoo?

Advertising with Kelkoo? Thinking of Selling Your Products Via Kelkoo?

How we discovered Kelkoo were charging us for clicks that never arrived on our website.

This information is provided with data from a live Kelkoo feed as of June 2012. It is useful to help you analyse other pay per click traffic sources and does not apply only to Kelkoo.

You Need to Know These Facts.

The Basics

Kelkoo is a shopping comparison site that charges the shops that advertise on their site an amount everytime someone clicks.

This sounds great in practice. It is how Google AdWords and Bing's advertising systems also work. You only pay when someone actually visits your website.

The Warning

Each month, Kelkoo will provide you with an invoice which will inform you of how many clicks you have had during the time period specified.

How do you know the number of clicks is correct? This is an issue we have recently discovered and have the evidence to show the number of clicks Kelkoo claim to be charging us for is vastly greater than the number of visitors that appeared on our website. How did we know?

Google Analytics

Step 1: Setting Up For Tracking Kelkoo

Many websites will have Google Analytics or another package to help them analyse the traffic they are receiving. If you don't have something to track traffic, you will need to install Google Analytics or another similar program onto your website.

Although Google Analytics is a great free resource, it does suffer from some limitations which you need to bypass to get accurate results.

A big limitation is that Kelkoo sell their results to other websites. Many people make the mistake of looking at Google Analytics and checking by referrer. This may show all the traffic that has come from Kelkoo directly but may not include other partners that Kelkoo may have. This will, of course, give you inaccurate statistics so we need to do something to get a much more accurate calculation.

The first thing we did was to create unique URL landing pages, just for Kelkoo. This will help you count the number of people who land on particular pages.

You will need to check that adding a variable, such as "?source=kelkootest" to the end of the URL actually works on your server. You can do this by simply typing into a web browser. If it fails, you will need to contact the webmaster and inform him of the new URLs. If you are the webmaster and there is an issue, check that your 'rewrite' rules allow for this parameter to be passed.

On your Kelkoo feed, change each and every URL to include the new parameter. In this case, by adding "?source=kelkootest" to every destination.

That is all you need to do!

Step 2: Actually Checking Kelkoo Statistics

In order to really check the statistics, you will need to visit Google Analytics once your URLs are updated and Kelkoo is forwarding customers to your new URLs. You will only be able to track Kelkoo clicks accurately from this point forward.

Because these URLs are unique to Kelkoo, I can count how many pageviews there have been. In order to do this you need to do the following:

  1. Ensure you set the date range to match the Kelkoo invoice.
  2. Select 'Content' on the left-hand side of the Google Analytics website.
  3. Click on 'Site Content' and then 'All Pages'
  4. This will show all the pages that have been visited in the timeframe. We need to filter just the Kelkoo ones now. You can do this if you enter into the search box (between the graph and the list of pages actually viewed) the extra part of the URL. So enter "source=kelkootest" (without the quotes).
  5. Now, you will see all the traffic Kelkoo has sent to you, no matter which website sent it to you - both Kelkoo and their partners.
  6. Because Kelkoo actually charge for each and every click, you will need to look at the higher number. There is "pageviews" and "unique pageviews". It is "pageviews" that we are interested in.
  7. Compare this to your invoice and the numbers should be similar. It could be expected that small discrepancies may occur but large discrepancies will indicate a serious issue.

Statistics From June 2012

Kelkoo Claim

The claim from Kelkoo is that we received 3,257 in June 2012 that they are trying to charge us for.

Google Analytics

Using the technique above, we clearly received only 2,019 clicks in the same time period.

Difference and Resolution

The different is 1,238. A massive amount of extra clicks being charged for that have never arrived onto our website. That is (if my maths is correct) a 38% overcharge. Over the months I have checked through 2012, it does average a little lower at an average overcharge of just over 32%.

A resolution by Kelkoo has not been found and no explanation offered as to why our method of calculating clicks is inaccurate.

We have asked for contact details for Richard Stables, the currently serving CEO of Kelkoo, so we can submit a formal complaint but have been refused by two members of staff.

I hope Richard manages to read this and can reply to us but please note that the reason this is on a public website instead of a private email is due to the refusal of your staff to provide an email address for yourself.

Low Kelkoo Traffic Quality and Conversion Rates

Another aspect you may wish to consider calculating from Analytics is the conversion rate that Kelkoo provide. This is the percentage of clicks that actually turn into sales. Kelkoo's conversation rate was exceptionally low compared to other sources, resulting in a low number of orders at an incredibly high cost.

Kelkoo staff have stated to me a number of times that it is their aim to 'drive traffic' to websites. This should not be the aim of any comparison shopping site. Their aim should be to drive customers who are looking to buy products to your website.

One way in which Kelkoo are happy to drive non-shoppers to your website is through a cashback company called QuidCo. The arrangement can be found at at QuidCo's Kelkoo page. It would seem that this is an arranged form of click fraud (PPC Fraud), permitted by Kelkoo. A deliberate attempt to get a number of people to click on items who are paid to do so. The clicker get 1p, Kelkoo (and possibly QuidCo) take some. The merchant who pays for all of this gets nothing but a visitor who is not interested in buying anything.

Resolution of Complaints

We are awaiting a resolution from Kelkoo.

Update: 25th Jan 2013 - Kelkoo have passed some unpaid invoices to a collection agency. Even though Kelkoo promised proof that the invoices were correct, they have failed to provide this. We have passed this information back to the credit collecting agency.

Are You Considering Selling Through Kelkoo?

Our advice is don't. We won't recommend it to any of our website clients and actively advise against. There are much better things you can do with your money.

Are You Being Overcharged? Have You Ever Checked?

I would love to hear comments from other companies that have been overcharged by Kelkoo, or any other shopping comparison website. Please comment if this has happened to you and how you discovered the discrepancies. Did you ever resolve the issue or did you just cancel the account? What happened to unpaid invoices or refunds? Let us know your experiences.
Legal References: Supply of Goods and Services Act (1982). Freedom of Expression under Article 10 of Human Rights Act 1998. Kelkoo staff names have not being mentioned with the exception of individuals already known publicly.

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PC Ink are a UK supplier of ink cartridges and other computer consumables. We now also sell printers and are an Epson Select Reseller.