Online Retail Grows, But Still Can’t Win

Online retail sales are growing by all accounts—but, paradoxically, this is somehow translated as a negative for the industry, indicating that it’s “immature.”
Of course, there’s the good news:

Online retail sales in the United States jumped 23 percent, to US$28.4 billion, during the third quarter of this year compared with the same July-September period in 2006.

The retail surge was led by sales of video games, consoles and accessories, which showed a year-to-year increase of 199 percent.

And the not-so-good news (emphasis mine):

“Online retail spending continues to grow at rates in excess of 20 percent year-over-year, which suggests that the market is still far from maturity,” comScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni said. “Even online travel commerce, which is a more developed market, continues to experience double-digit gains.”

Ask Q3 Revenue Up; IAC, Not So Much

InterActiveCorp, owners of such diverse properties as the Home Shopping Network, Evite, Match.com, TicketMaster, CitySearch and perennial favorite underdog search engine Ask.com, released their Q3 numbers today—and their total numbers aren’t so good:

Profit fell 4.2 percent. . . . Profit for the quarter ended Sept. 30 fell to $71.8 million, or 24 cents per share, from $74.9 million, or 24 cents per share, last year.

However, there is good news. Apparently, the home shopping industry is turning around! What? I know that you’re up watching those informercials at 3 AM.

Oh, and the revenue of the media and advertising unit (which includes Ask.com) is up 40%. While that wouldn’t be good enough for Google (who was, if you’ll recall, a “failure” with only 58% growth in Q2), this is Ask, people!

Halloween – Big Business

Halloween is a big holiday for spending. Reports that the figure is between $5-7 billion in spending and the average adult spends $65 on the holiday. Just ask Kate Maloney who at 26 made the Inc 500 list as founder and CEO of Costume Craze.

Here’s how Halloween spending breaks down: $21 for candy, $12 for cards and $38.50 for costumes (see this post on popular costumes for the season). Halloween decorating is also a big industry, second only to Christmas. Unity Marketing says decoration sales grew 21 percent to $3.2 billion in 2006 over 2005.

I always enjoy how into Halloween and other holidays Google gets. I wish other retailers would follow suit. My question of the day – why the restaurant The Melting Pot doesn’t make a Halloween version of fondue. 

Microsoft Creates Education Alliance with SEMPO Institute

By Manoj Jasra

image Microsoft Corp. and SEMPO Institute, www.sempoinstitute.com, announced today an education alliance in which personnel from 20,000 affiliates of the MSN search engine will have access to SEMPO Institute’s online learning program designed to provide in-depth knowledge of best-practices in search engine marketing.

As part of the new alliance, personnel from the MSN affiliates will be able to take SEMPO Institute’s Fundamentals of Search Marketing class.  SEMPO Institute also offers online classes in Advanced Search Engine Optimization and Advanced Search Advertising.  Fundamentals consists of 14 lessons intended to give the student a high level understanding of the essentials of search engine marketing.

Since SEMPO Institute launched in early 2007, the student feedback has been very positive – 80% say they would recommend the Fundamentals course. “All companies need the fundamentals of search marketing in order to implement an e-marketing strategy,” says SEMPO President Jeffrey Pruitt. 

Tips to Marketing on Facebook

MarketingSherpa just ran a great article on how to market yourself or business on Facebook. As they point out the approach to marketing in a social community takes a little different approach than marketing in other contexts. Offending the community means you won’t be trusted.

It goes like this. Imagine going to church and thinking that there are a lot of people in your potential market there. So you decide to make an announcement about a big sale at your store. Everyone feels uncomfortable. It’s happened to me and it was in bad taste.

Facebook is a community of 46 million members, it’s growing by 3% a week since January, especially with the 25 and older demographic. I’ve noticed more and more friends joining in the past few weeks.

IBM Turns Discarded Silicon into Solar Panels

There’s a lot of waste in the computer industry. IBM has developed a solution that takes scrap silicon disks and makes them into solar panels.

Computer chips are made of silicon wafers that have to be perfect to be usable. Imperfect wafers are thrown away after sensitive data is removed. Now, with a new process by inventor Eric White, they can be reused and made into solar panels.

Not only are the wafers being salvaged but the process for cleaning them is also improved. No more harsh acid. IBM has been sandblasting the chips instead. But now they use an even cleaner process that uses water and an abrasive pad. Eric White invented the process and says with the new technology they can get five or six monitor wafers out from one that otherwise would have been crushed and discarded.

Google Reputation Management: Fix Your Google Reputation & Remove Negative Results

Make sure you’re the first to know about an online reputation crisis. Forget Google Alerts, try Trackur’s social media monitoring tools.

Google is no longer just a search engine. With your potential customers, future employers, and members of the media turning to Google for information about your business, Google has become a reputation engine.

In helping clients with their online reputation, I’m consistently asked how they can push out negative results that appears on the first page of Google for a search for their name. Whether they were fined by the SEC, ridiculed by an ex-employee, or investigated by their local newspaper, they share one common goal: get that negative result off of the first page!