Online Traffic Up This Holiday Season for Top Retailers. Is That Enough?

A study by Experian Marketing Services was brought to my attention this morning in a press release.

It shows a positive trend. It says that the traffic to the sites of the Top 500 retailers was up for the 2012 holiday season. Take a look.

Daily Retail Traffic Online

That’s good. But is it the right thing to concentrate on? As a retailer, traffic is nice but sales tell the story. A publisher can celebrate pure traffic because it implies more people see ads etc. Retailers however need sales. It’s that simple.

In 2013 are you concentrating on traffic to your site? Where does traffic rank on your list of most important metrics? How are you measuring conversions? Can you say that you really know what your online presence is generating for your business?

Congress Gives Netflix the Go Ahead to Share Video Viewing Information

bork videosIn 1988, Congress enacted the Video Privacy Protection Act after a newspaper printed the video rental history of Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork. It could have been quite embarrassing and scandalous but lucky for Bork he was more into Hitchcock thrillers and James Bond than blue movies and graphic violence.

After this horrendous invasion of privacy, someone penned a law and pushed it through Congress to stop video companies from sharing this kind of information in the future. At the time, they didn’t know about Netflix, online streaming, or Facebook.

Netflix has been lobbying to have the law changed and this week they won the war. Congress passed an amendment that will allow video viewers to opt-in to total social sharing. Which means, sometime in 2013, Netflix will begin adding your viewing history to your Facebook newsfeed, with your permission.

Google’s Gift: Another Year of Free Gmail Calls Through the US and Canada

google voiceOver the past year, I’ve tested hundreds of apps, websites and online tools. I abandoned most of them shortly after the trial but there are a few tools that I go back to again and again. One is Skype and one is Google Voice through Gmail.

Both tools allow me to easily talk with people around the world but they each fill a separate need.

Google Voice through Gmail is my go-to option when I need to call someone in the US. Calls within the country (or within Canada if that’s where you live) are free and they’re going to stay that way for another year. They keep saying it’s only for a year, but they said that last year and the year before and it’s still free.

3,2,1 …. ‘Happy New Year’s Eve Facebook Update!’ Yeah!

Concerned that you might be so busy having fun that you won’t be able to show your other friends who are not with you who might be having fun elsewhere that you really are having fun on New Year’s Eve?

Then Facebook’s “New Year’s Midnight Delivery‘ is for you!

Facebook Midnight Delivery

Also in the works for 2013 is an ‘April’s Fool’ message (sent on March 31st to be funny), a ‘Happy Arbor Day!’ service, and a ‘Happy Flag Day’ service with animated flag raising.

Actually none of that is even remotely true but would about as lame as this offering.

Holiday Sales Numbers; So Far, Not So Good

1409596_christmas_tree_6While shoppers battle to pick up holiday leftovers for up to 70% off, the bean counters have begun tallying the pre-Christmas dollars. So far, it’s not looking so good.

The Wall Street Journal pulled numbers from a variety of sources including the retail consulting firm Customer Growth Partners who said “2012 looks like the worst holiday-shopping season since 2009. Sales rose roughly 2.8%, after a 5.8% jump in 2011.”

Mastercard SpendingPulse looked at the entire season from October 28 through Christmas Eve and came out with only a 0.7% increase over 2011.

Things look a little better for online retailers. SpendingPulse says online holiday sales hit $48 billion which is an 8.4% increase over last year.

comScore goes further, saying they came up with a 16% increase which is only one point lower than their prediction.

Content Wars: eBooks Falter But New York Times Paywall is a Hit

Have you ever read Thunderstruck by Erik Larson? Published in 2006, it’s the true story of how Marconi’s wireless helped capture one of England’s most notorious killers. I went to buy a copy from Amazon last week and here’s what I found:

thunderstruck

I could have the ebook delivered instantly to my Kindle for $11.99. If I was willing to buy it used (I was) and wait several weeks for delivery, I could buy it for one cent. I’d have to pay shipping, but with media rates it would still come in under $4.00. $8.00 more to get it now or save the money and get a copy that I can later turn in for credit at the local used book store.

What If There Were No Google, Amazon, Apple or Facebook?

The Wall Street Journal published this nice comparison of the powers that be on the Internet.

Let’s face it, if these services went away today would the vast majority of the world find the Internet as useful and manageable? Of course, one could argue that other players would ‘fill the void’ but imagine that there weren’t those either.

Imagine there was always just average search engines (if any at all). Imagine if you had to go everywhere for everything instead of landing at Amazon and shopping for it all. Imagine no Facebook (that one is a little easier to do I must admit) or that Apple and its app world didn’t help make sense of it all.

Hmmm. What do you think?

Big Four Compariosn