Prepare for your world to go into overdrive.
The holidays are here, which means crunch-time in every sphere of life. At home there may be gift-giving and gatherings to plan. Work is pressing as vacation time nears. Retailers have added pressure of hitting sales goals during the final days of the year. Internet marketers will be busy executing holiday season marketing strategies, so to ease the daily workload of staying up on industry happenings, here’s your dose of news that unrolled while you were enjoying family time and turkey.
Online retail holiday season overview
First thing’s first: analysts have an optimistic outlook for the busiest shopping season of the year. Early sales numbers are in, and November saw more than $9 billion spent online. comScore predicts a 13 percent increase in online sales over last year. While the outlook for the season looks promising, retailers can always consider potential marketplace advantages. 31 percent of consumers said that discounts and coupons are a determining factor in what products they purchase from which retailer. Likewise, offering free shipping removes a major friction point of the online shopping experience, so much so that discounts may not be necessary to achieve a sale.
Local and shopping search developments
On the search front, a New York Times piece uncovers for the mainstream a major flaw in Google’s ranking methodology ─ that negative reviews are an effective means of boosting standard organic rankings. Danny Sullivan dissects the question of whether or not Google recognizes positive or negative reviews and, concluding that it does, in which search verticals and through which mechanisms the search engine applies this information. Technologies that can help retailers with strong review scores, such as rich snippets via microformats and seller ratings extensions for advertisers, are also addressed.
Yahoo!, meanwhile, is testing a new local search interface that ties in user generated local recommendations and daily deals. These features create an immersive local search experience that integrates the utility of social input for decision making and the growing popularity of location-based discount sites like Groupon. Visually, Yahoo!’s beta local product is a list layout akin to social platforms Facebook and Twitter.
Social and mobile advertising
It may make sense to take cues from popular and familiar Facebook when implementing social features. Last week, Hitwise reported that Facebook represents nearly 1 in 4 pages visited on the Web. It was a jump from the figure reported one year ago, when Facebook represented 1 in 10 web pages visited. Tips for optimizing CPC advertising on Facebook, are outlined in an article on Search Engine Watch and, in the author’s experience, the process he shares has proven effective for a range of retailers. Means of simple testing, targeting relevant groups and measuring performance are discussed.
In the mobile space, Google is experimenting with what it calls a link between offline marketing and the mobile web. Traditional advertising extends directly into the Internet via a new application for Google Goggles. When a consumer takes a picture of a brand’s advertisement, Google Goggles will recognize the ad and give the user the option to click through to a mobile destination for the brand. Five brands are pioneering the test, with more reported to be coming soon. The usefulness of the app feature is uncertain, but the development is the latest innovation in which users can interact with the world in a mobile-Internet connected way.
Internet TV developments
Finally, moving from one hot gadget to another, the big topic of the last week was the next big consumer item: Internet connected TV devices. A Nielsen report shows that among respondents age 13 and up, computers are the device with the highest intent to purchase in the next six months, followed by televisions. Technologies like Google TV and Apple TV seek to bridge the gap between television and the Internet. However, it has been a hard-fought battle to convince consumers and content producers to embrace the jump.
Some networks have blocked their programming from Google TV, resisting the change from the cable-centric TV broadcasting model used today. Viacom was the latest, while ABC, NBC and Fox have in the past. And while Google TV is just weeks on the market, some analysts are already forecasting trouble for the technology as Sony offers its Google TV equipped devices at 25 percent off. It may be some time before lucrative opportunities for advertisers reveal themselves, but it’s fun to look at how the future of this breaking technology is unfolding.