SiteSpect Tips Auction Site on Testing

Does the size of the product's image have a material impact on a visitor's likelihood of placing a bid?

Boston auctioneer Skinner Inc. asked that question of Web site optimization technology firm SiteSpect Inc. The issue was unique because Skinner had no experience with A/B or multivariate testing.

Skinner's other challenge was that its auction catalog and bid functions on the site at were part of a third-party auction software solution from RFC Systems. So to modify the site for using JavaScript-based testing would require a special project at extra time and cost.

SiteSpect, Boston, solved the problem for Skinner by implementing the test within four hours and with no changes to the underlying site. The strategy was to focus on improving site areas that could contribute to revenue-generating conversion.

“The content test itself, for which SiteSpect modified the image size 'on the fly,' was unique in that it involved dynamic content that was not testable using JavaScript products,” said Eric Hansen, president of SiteSpect.

Using SiteSpect, Skinner ran a series of test campaigns to learn which variations yielded the highest improvements to bidding conversion rates. Tested components included variations in catalog page layout and messaging, calls to action and individual item landing pages.

As it turned out, product image size was one of the most important conversion factors. Testing various image sizes showed that enlarging them from 250 pixels to 350 pixels generated a 429 percent jump in bidding conversions.

Apart from allowing tests without changes to the underlying site, SiteSpect enables complete testing of any dynamic content anywhere on the site and on single or multiple pages at the same time, the company said.

SiteSpect also tests non-HTML content like CSS and XML as well as tracks consumption of non-HTML content such as streaming media.

With Skinner, SiteSpect's goal was to improve online bidding and browsing conversion rates to keep pace with the growth of overall site traffic. It was also to boost's role as an e-commerce channel generating a significant revenue stream.

“Skinner is faced with the challenge of keeping their site as up-to-date as possible in order to keep up with customer needs and trends,” Hansen said. “In general, this means adding features and evolving the site so it is easy to use and appeals to their target audience.

“Skinner currently uses other tools such as Web analytics [from WebTrends] and third-party auction solutions,” he said, “but SiteSpect is the only solution that has been able to handle their A/B and multivariate testing needs.”

Mickey Alam Khan covers Internet marketing campaigns and e-commerce, agency news as well as circulation for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting

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