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Industry News Update for the Week of June 15, 2012

By Erin Snowden

Here’s a roundup of the top headlines in the NetX Industry News Update:

NetX Launches New Vogue Affiliate Program
NetX is excited to announce the launch of the Vogue affiliate program in Google Affiliate Network, in partnership with Condé Nast. In order to streamline the best user experience for Vogue consumers, NetX created a new affiliate site internally and implemented an order processing system. Marked with enthusiasm, a dedicated team and the valuable support of a talented magazine industry veteran, the new Vogue landing page was designed with the customer experience in mind.

Why A Tablet Strategy Is A Must-Have
According to comScore, one in four Americans used a tablet device in the first quarter of 2012. Tablets have become increasingly popular among mobile phone subscribers showing a usage increase of 11.8% in the past year. Tablets are even becoming increasingly important to video users. ComScore studies show that out of the number of users viewing video at least once a month, 26.7% paid to watch content. Furthermore, Tablets continue to benefit high end brands, due to being skewed toward upper-income households. Nearly three in five tablet users live in homes with income of $75,000 or more.

Online Ad Sales Surge
According to new data, online advertising has been increasing by 15% YoY setting a record of $8.4 billion for the first quarter. A major factor in the rise of online ad sales is due to online media creating conversation between marketers and consumers. In 2011, display online spending rose 15% from $9.6 billion to $11.1 billion. Retail advertising remained the largest category of online ad spending, totaling $7.1 billion. As for this year, mobile has made up double the amount of total online ad dollars by climbing from 2.5% to 5%.

Google Rolls Out Trusted Stores Program
Google announces their new Trusted Stores program which has increased conversion rates by an average of 3% and has increased average order sizes by 5.5%. The Google Trusted Stores Program gives consumers peace of mind when shopping online at unfamiliar stores. The program rates retailer’s shipping and customer service quality using letter grades and detailed statistics. According to Google, the Google Trusted Store seal will soon appear in paid search ads and on product listings in Google Shopping.

For Online Shoppers, Just How Important Is Free Shipping?
According to a February 2012 survey by comScore, shipping costs still play a significant role in converting online users. When asked what aspect of the shopping process retailers could improve, three of the top 5 responses were related to shipping. The desire for free or discounted shipping topped the list with 58%. Shipping was also ranked the main reason buyers abandoned their cart before completing a purchase. 57% of those surveyed said they added items to their cart not to buy them, but to find out the total purchase cost once shipping costs were factored in.

Will No-Track Extensions Send Paid Search Advertisers Back to the Keyword Basics?

By: Julianne Bohl

There’s been a lot of chatter in recent weeks about Google Chrome’s new no-track option, an answer to rising consumer concern over online privacy. So what will the no-track option mean to me as a leisurely Internet user? What will it mean to me as a search advertiser? I’ll bet if I asked five different people how implementing no-track would affect their online experience I’d get five different answers.

We know that Google will not collect users’ browsing histories when the Opt-Out extension is selected, but users will continue to see ads. How is this so? Not all of Google’s ads are served based on user preference. When I started out in Search, my campaigns consisted of keyword-search paid ads and keyword contextually targeted display ads. That was pretty much the extent of it. But a lot has changed in five years!

Browser cookies – a small piece of information sent by a web server to store on a web browser – have allowed us to collect signals about users’ interests, enabling us to build more-robust profiles of who our customers are. This profile is no longer just defined by the search engine queries and the content of the sites visited. With this wealth of consumer insight, we can now serve an ad to a former customer, informing them when an upgrade for their previously bought product is released. Or we can serve an ad to a non-purchasing browser, offering a site or product coupon. Do consumers really dislike these ads? Personally, if I’m checking the weather, I’d rather see an ad for sales on flights to Florida (because I’ve been researching this, and yes, I want to know about this sale!) than an ad for gardening (this is irrelevant to me – a eucalyptus plant is about as far as I get in New York).

So if users start opting out, and search engines and ad networks are forced to move away from preference-based targeting and back to the basics of keyword targeting, will the problem be solved? Will end-consumers feel more secure searching online or will they be irritated by the less and less relevant ads they see? What about advertisers? Will online marketing become less insightful? Will advertisers pull back from spending online? Will content providers dependent on ad revenue be forced to stop producing this content?

It’s tough to say. But I think as an industry, we can agree that we face the tough challenge of rethinking how we approach this space.

The phenomenon of online marketing has always been its measurability. The compelling data and the insights an advertiser can glean from campaigns are truly above and beyond any other marketing channel, and to potentially lose this is such a shame. Wouldn’t InStyle’s print team love to find an efficient way to send me my issue with one set of ads (if only they knew I always skip the beauty section) and my sister her issue with a separate set of ads (she saves the beauty section)? Search advertising is at the risk of losing what it does best: Understand consumers and reach them in precise ways that are personally meaningful.

If we lose this as advertisers, current and future brand enthusiasts lose out too. It’s up to our industry to find a way to maintain this relevancy while also securing users’ privacy.

Julianne Bohl is the Director of Search Advertising for NetX.

Don’t Miss The Latest Headlines In The NetX Industry News Update!

Steve Jobs passes away while experts predict growth for this year’s holiday sales.  You can find these headlines and more in this week’s industry news update!

Apple Co-Founder Steve Jobs Passes Away
Steve Jobs, a co-founder of Apple Inc., has sadly passed away at the age of 56.  An original thinker who helped create the Macintosh also reinvented the portable music player with the iPod and reordered the cell phone market with the iPhone.  The introduction of the iPad also jump-started the tablet market, and now it dominates the field.

Holiday Sales to Rise 2.8% to $465 Billion
The National Retail Federation says it expects holiday spending to rise just 2.8% this year, to a total of $465.6 billion.  While that gain is far less than the 5.2% gain retailers saw last year, it is still above the 2.6% average of the last 10 years.  Retailers have posted sales gains for the last 14 months but ongoing concerns about the economy have them worried.

Google Analytics Adds Real-Time Traffic Data
Google for the first time is providing a window into real-time web traffic with Google Analytics Real-Time.  Real-Time reports are available in the new version of Google Analytics, and administrators with Analytics accounts will get Real-Time reports.  For users trying to gauge how a campaign or post is performing, Real-Time will track the immediate impact to site traffic.

Mobile Ad Spend to Hit $1 Billion
According to eMarketer, mobile ad spending could reach $1.23 billion for U.S. advertisers by the end of the year, up 66% from last year’s $743 million figure.  They also predict that this figure will continue to see escalating growth, reaching $4.4 billion by 2015.

Google Launches Trusted Stores Program
To ally doubts about the legitimacy of the e-commerce sites, Google has announced a new program to highlight exemplary online merchants.  Google Trusted Stores aspires to help shoppers recognize online stores that offer compelling shopping experiences.  Google has already begun admitting merchants into the program, which will require participating sites to share shipping and customer service data with Google.

Flash-sale E-mails Spark More Purchases When Sent Late in the Afternoon
Flash-sale e-mails sent after 3 P.M. generate more transactions and more revenue than e-mails sent out earlier in the day, according to an Experian CheetahMail analysis.  The data reveals that messages sent after 3 P.M. have an open rate 90% greater than e-mails sent at mid-day.  Late-day messages stand out more in consumers’ inboxes because fewer e-retailers send messages late in the day.