BazaarVoice teams up with shopping portals

The company that manages customer-created online ratings and reviews is teaming with shopping portals to extend reviews on corporate sites to such sites as MSN and PriceRunner.com.

Touting the value of word-of-mouth marketing and customer-created product reviews, BazaarVoice Inc. this week released

a new application that extends customer ratings and reviews to major consumer portals.

The Austin-based company has reached agreements with MSN, PriceRunner.com and Smarter.com to feed customer reviews from its clients to the portals with an application dubbed SyndicateVoice. BazaarVoice operates and manages customer-generated ratings and reviews on the Web sites of its clients such as Petco and The Home Depot.

More and more online consumers are turning to reviews for purchasing information. According to a report from Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc., more than 71% of online adults use consumer product ratings/reviews. Moreover, a recent survey from Jupiter Research found that the number of online buyers who cite customer ratings and reviews as the most useful shopping site feature has more than doubled in 2006 from 2005.

"People are thinking about social networking and word-of-mouth marketing," said Sam Decker, vice president of marketing and products. "You're attracting high-value customers and raising loyalty." @24929

With its new release, BazaarVoice aggregates and normalizes reviews from its retailers into XML that contains relevant ratings and a review excerpt. That is sent to participating portals and includes the retailer's branding with a live link back to the retailer's site and is tracked using Web analytics. BazaarVoice clients retain ownership of all the reviews. Pricing is based on a pay-for-performance fee.

Retailers receive greater branding, visibility in search engines, and traffic; the aggregators add free content.

"It's volume of information that wins out," Martin Anderson, general manager of PriceRunner.com., said of the shopping comparison market. "The more volume of relevant information and relevant tools for consumers to use to quickly get confidence in the products their searching for, the better."

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