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Pronto Ventures Into Comparison Shopping

By: David Utter

IAC/Interactive has stepped up its promotion of the comparison shopping engine by launching a Merchant Solutions Center.

Pronto Ventures Into Comparison ShoppingWith this debut of the Center, IAC (IACI) has added merchant marketing features to bid for premium placement on the site. The effort will also help IAC monetize their work on Pronto, which debuted in late September.

IAC said its shopping index now contains over 50 million products from some 50,000 retailers. Pronto's launch coincides with the pending holiday shopping season that should begin in earnest once Halloween has passed.

To break through the clutter, Pronto's Merchant Center users will be able to increase their minimum bid rate for a product placed in a given category. Pronto lists minimums for their subcategories, ranging from 15 cents for toys or video games to $1.00 for ink and toner products.

An assortment of retailers have taken an interest in Pronto, which claimed over 280 of Internet Retailer's top 400 merchants work with the comparison engine. Online spending for the holidays should increase by 53 percent for the fourth quarter of 2006, according to Performics.

Capturing that interest and revenue will be paramount as always to online retailers. IAC boasts an audience of 229 million people based on September 2006 comScore data. Those visitors include the audience for the search engine, TicketMaster, and other properties.

Despite those numbers, IAC and Pronto face heavy competition from established players like eBay (EBAY) and its site, or Yahoo Shopping, or the revitalized

I was encouraged by Pronto's performance with a quick search I made on all four sites for "new york giants jersey." Pronto was the only one of the four to give me nothing but results for the football team atop the NFC East on the first page of results, just as I hoped to see.


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