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7 Things You Didn't Know About DFO
If You’re A Manufacturer Or Retailer, You Have A Data Feed
You may not know it, or may not be using the term “data feed” – but you don’t do anything in retail today without one. A data feed is a file that contains information about products, usually saved in a format that can be easily manipulated by programs like Excel or Notepad.
Data feeds are typically transmitted
  • From manufacturers to retailers – so retailers can easily retrieve, sort and post product information in their advertisements, catalogs and websites
  • From retailers to search engines – so that search engines can present researching customers with the best information.
Surprise! The Product Information In Your Data Feed Is Not The Product Information Available On The Internet

Most manufacturers are surprised at what they find when they search for their products online. Some didn’t realize they have a product data feed or how their product information ends up on the internet.
Suprise, Your Data is Not AvailableOther manufacturers understand the power of delivering a complete, fresh and accurate product data feed, and don’t understand why the information they’ve sent isn’t the product data being published online.

Product data feeds undergo a process akin to the “Telephone Game” kids play. You know, the one where everyone sits in a row and whispers a sentence into the ear of the person next to them, who in turn whispers it to the person sitting next to them, and so on through the row? By the time the sentence has been sent and received a number of times, it’s never what it was.

Product data goes through the same process today. A retailer receives a manufacturer’s data feed, but has no obligation to republish all the information they’ve received. Instead, the retailer pulls out the data important to them, for their own promotions advertisements, or webpages.

Search engines subsequently get their product information from data feeds sent by the retailer. Typically, a search engine will “poll” multiple retailer data feeds and then come up with a “best possible answer.” Because of this herky-jerky, inconsistent delivery process, product data online rarely resembles the product data originally placed into a manufacturer data feed.
How Google & Bing Treat Product Data From Edgenet
In order to determine what product information they’ll publish, Google & Bing sift through retail data feed after retail data feed, looking for product data they believe to be the best and most relevant.
How Google & Bing Treat DataSearch engines are not accustomed to publishing incomplete information. They know people research online for an answer, not a compilation of data that may or may not be true. That’s why both Google and Bing have both turned to Edgenet.

Edgenet’s years of experience in the field of product data – along with its one-of-a-kind ability to organize and improve data feeds – caught the eye of Google and Bing. Once the massive search engines saw the quality in the data feeds Edgenet provides, both search engines signed on to receive product data directly from Edgenet.

Google and Bing still receive data through retail data feeds. But because the search engines trust product data from Edgenet, Edgenet’s data is treated with more value than the amalgam of results culled from retail data feeds.
What Data Feed Optimization Is
Data Feed Optimization (or DFO) is the process of improving the product data in a data feed so that the data feed recipient gets exactly the information they want in the format they demand.
What is DFO?
DFO Improves Your Data Feed
Every data feed recipient has different demands. One data feed recipient might want files in a certain format; most are looking for the freshest data possible; another data feed recipient might need product images of a certain size or resolution.

One of the principal goals of DFO is improving the relevance of data so that shoppers can research, compare, and make a buying decision
  • Data feed optimization involves improving the accuracy of product information. Because search engines receive data feeds that do not come directly from a manufacturer, manufacturers routinely find incorrect information about their products online. Inaccuracy loses shoppers. An incorrect decimal place can ruin a purchase or shopping experience. A misplaced or misspelled word can dissuade a shopper from purchasing a product. In this podcast, Edgenet’s Peter Montross discusses the value of DFO and details some inaccurate product information that affects perception of the product and brand - far more damaging than a bad decimal.
  • DFO involves improving the completeness of the product information available. When product data is complete and organized, it enables one of the most powerful and influential elements of online shopping and research – comparison shopping. Comparison shopping can only take place when information in a product data feed is complete and organized, so that product details can be compared side-by-side and by attribute.
  • Data Feed Optimization means ensuring the information in a data feed is up-to-date. Consumers are well aware that product updates, new models, and shortened product life cycles have a profound effect on relevance. Today’s shopper doesn’t want to show up at a store to make a purchase of a product that is no longer in production or is no longer available.
Google & Bing Have Made DFO Every Bit As Important As SEO
Product search is not the same thing as organic search. Shoppers differ from typical researchers because shoppers want product details and product images so an intelligent buying decision can be made. Product searches receive and send different data, so the algorithm used by product search is vastly different from the formula used to deliver organic search results.
DFO In Action on Bing
DFO In Action on Google
Still, Google and Bing are treating both types of searches with equal care. Product search serves both a search engine’s goal – deliver relevant information to consumers – and a search engine’s business model. It’s no wonder, then, that both Google and Bing are all-in when it comes to data feed optimization.

If you’re looking for evidence of how important product search is to Google or Bing, consider the “one box” of product images that appears in most search results. The “one box” is a rectangular row of product images search engines have placed about 1/3 of the way down a page of search results.

That’s some pretty expensive real estate Google and Bing are giving up – right at the top of a browser page. One box results are not the result of organic search results - the images are chosen from product data feeds as a result of the product search algorithm. Unfortunately, today’s data feeds simply don’t contain enough product data to please shoppers.

A 2011 The Etailing Group study reveals that more than half of shoppers are spending 75% of their shopping time researching products. Consumers are turning to their laptop, tablet and phone to shop before they purchase – reading reviews, comparison shopping and studying what’s best for them.

Studies show it, and search engines know it. The quality of product data – DFO –needs to improve to meet consumer demand. If you want to customers to find your products online, DFO is just as important as SEO.
When It Comes To DFO, Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Recipient
Great data feed optimization is great communication. In the world of DFO, knowing precisely what information is sent is as important as understanding how it’s received. You may be a great orator, but if you don’t speak in a language your audience can understand, you may as well be speaking gibberish.
A manufacturer might have the best product images available – but if those images are too large, too small, or saved in the wrong format, the data feed recipient can’t or won’t use them.

Data feed optimization requires not just an excellent knowledge of product data, but also an intimate knowledge of what the recipient of the product data feed needs. Edgenet spends time with both parties on either end of a product data feed, ensuring that the information sent can be mapped directly into the system of the recipient.

For many manufacturers, feed optimization breaks down when a second recipient is added, and then lurches to a halt when you add a third, or a fifth, or a twentieth data feed recipient. How do you apply the rigors of DFO to each data feed recipient?

Edgenet researched one of its manufacturers and found that it was employing dozens of people to collect product data and deliver data feeds to recipients. For that manufacturer, Ezeedata’s ability to collect, improve and then disseminate data feeds to recipients in exactly the formats the recipient demanded was an efficiency of almost incalculable value.
You Can Do Your DFO (You Can Also Do Your Own Accounting)
The amount of work you can do in-house is endless. Public relations – how hard can it be? You write a press release, you send it to the press release place, and bang. Done. Logistics? You get some trucks, you get drivers for the trucks, they deliver your products to places. Easy.
And what’s accounting except for really good recordkeeping? There’s a chance that someone at your workplace has a good head on your shoulders and can handle the books.

Or…you could let experts handle the things they’re great at so you can handle your business best. Given the value of getting your data feed optimization –and the sales and branding opportunities lost by getting your DFO wrong – you might want to carefully consider the sales, branding and efficiency value of a DFO expert.

Edgenet’s Ezeedata is designed specifically for feed optimization. Enter a data set into Ezeedata, and Ezeedata will automatically begin improving the data – applying thousands of checks on your product data and suggesting improvements. Ezeedata even offers a solution called Image Assist that will scan an image of a product and begin entering data attributes automatically for you.

By the time your product data is certified by Ezeedata, over 40,000 checks have been applied to make sure your product data feed meets every possible DFO standard.

Improve your feed optimization and watch the difference relevant, optimized product data brings. Contact Edgenet at 1-877-EDGENET today.

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