DealTime to Acquire Epinions

Shopping search engine DealTime is acquiring Epinions, one of the web's most popular consumer opinion and review sites.

DealTime intends to incorporate the thousands of consumer opinions and reviews from Epinions onto its own shopping search engine. The company also plans to continue operating as a standalone site.

Although DealTime has published consumer reviews on its site in the past, the addition of Epinions content will enhance the credibility of the advice offered by the shopping search engine.

Epinions has established a reputation as a trustworthy source of consumer buying advice. The site features reviews from "ordinary" consumers, rather than from professional reviewers.

Though anyone can register to become an Epinions reviewer, the site has put in place numerous safeguards to strengthen and enhance what it calls "the web of trust."

This system allows Epinions users to "trust" or "block" the reviews of other members. Reviewers are rated by other Epinions users, and you can click on any reviewer's profile to read these rankings. The profile also displays the names of Epinions users who explicitly trust the reviewer, and the names of others that the reviewer in turn trusts.

It all adds up to a fairly effective form of self-regulation that enables you to get relatively objective opinions from other consumers. By contrast, many of the reviews currently published on DealTime (and most of the other shopping search engines, for that matter) appear to be posted by shills, over-hyping products or retailers, or publishing unrealistically negative criticisms -- in other words, not very trustworthy advice.

By adding Epinions reviews to its site, DealTime significantly improves the quality of advice offered with its search listings. This will benefit both shoppers and merchants who advertise on DealTime through its paid inclusion program.

These listings will also be made available on

"Consumer-written reviews are very helpful in pre-qualifying shoppers," said Safa Rashtchy, Senior Research Analyst with U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray. "Epinions' consumer reviews and ratings combined with DealTime's shopping search technologies should translate into a powerful product for consumers and merchants alike. Generally, these types of pre-qualified buyers are the most attractive leads in the online marketplace."

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Completion of the transaction is subject to standard closing conditions, including regulatory and shareholder approvals. Upon completion of these conditions, the deal is expected to close in approximately six weeks.



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About the author

Chris Sherman is a frequent contributor to several information industry journals. He's written several books, including The McGraw-Hill CD ROM Handbook and The Invisible Web: Uncovering Information Sources Search Engines Can't See, co-authored with Gary Price. Chris has written about search and search engines since 1994, when he developed online searching tutorials for several clients. From 1998 to 2001, he was's Web Search Guide.