Oodle – a classified search engine – just beefed up its shopping experience with its new “Oodle Index,” which graphs the range of prices – and the level of inventory – for items for sale in local classifieds.
I spoke with Oodle CEO Craig Donato recently about the advance, which they’re launching with functionality in cars, real estate and rentals.
Shopping within classified ads is a daunting process, he told me. In watching folks shop the Oodle team recognized that there’s an initial flurry of price comparison and data crunching that is actually quite stressful to the shoppers. Their graph of price and availability data is a powerful lens for classified shoppers seeking a quick understanding of price in their local area.
Mpire has a similar price index, but it averages price from eBay listing data and won’t show you local, classified-based, fluctuations in price.
“The data,” Donato said, “is messy.” They pulled in Stanford PhD economist Claire Tomkins for a six month engagement with Oodle engineers, making sure that the data stays statistically relevant.
The power of the Oodle index – like Mpire – lies in helping people identify good deals. Though there are no immediate plans for it, the Oodle Index is likely to become an API, as I can imagine local newspapers requesting that Oodle’s presence on their site include the power of price trend graphs.
Oodle – to me at least – fits into a similar category as Pixsy, a vertical search engine focused on video and images. They’re similar in that both are vertical and both find distribution for their searches and financial growth through partnerships. Both companies decided they would not necessarily focus on a single home page or portal, but rather on providing a superior vertical experience to other websites.
Search marketers, and the search industry as a whole, must be on constant watch for new comers who rise through targeted distribution. I suspect that the era in which a “major player” search engine can launch as a stand alone site are largely gone due to the profound and sustained popularity of Google.
So if your clients use classifieds to generate leads for real estate, cars or rentals, check your local newspaper’s site to see if they partnered with Oodle. Get your properties in there and make sure you’re conveying the VALUE behind the prices you’re asking.
What I find exciting about the Oodle index – and Mpire – is the application of such a powerful lens to otherwise disparate data. I can’t help but want to see more and more of my daily shopping experiences (grocery store, restaurants, Amazon) run through a similar price indicator. This particular lens is a powerful function for shopping search engines, and I think in it we see something of the apex of what they should be offering to consumers, an answer to the eternal question: “Is this or is it not a fair price?”