Online Sales Up this Holiday Season

It might not be an especially cheery holiday for retailers this year – at least offline retailers. TNS Retail Forward, a company that conducts research on the retail market, says growth in holiday sales will be the slowest it has been in five years. The forecast? Fourth-quarter growth in 2007 will slow to 3.3% – it was at 4.6% in 2006. But it is still growth. However, their projection for online sales is rosier. They expect online sales to bring in nearly $42 billion in the fourth quarter of 2007. That’s up 7 billion from last year when it sales were at $35 billion in the fourth quarter.

Google Earth Activism and the Sierra Club

I’ve got to find creative ways to use my conservation biology degree. After college everything changed after I got a job answering the phones at an internet startup. They’re gone but I’m still going. So I got lost in looking at the Sierra Club’s newest campaign on Google Earth. They started a 10-year campaign to protect fifty-two of the most exceptional places in the country. They chose a place in every state, plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. They published details in a report called America’s Wild Legacy.

There is a Google Earth collection that shows all of the 52 locations as placemarks. You can see why the place was chosen with a short summary and a picture. There’s also information about the threats – everything from mining to plans to build high end resorts on the land.

Affiliate Marketing – High Growth in the UK

By Janet Meiners.

According to a report by E-consultancy retailers in the UK are seeing positive results from affiliate marketing. The research group surveyed 239 merchants this year and most of them have both online an offline presence.

A full 95% of brands said that affiliate marketing is ‘very cost-effective’ or ‘quite cost effective.’ The next most effective ways to acquire a new customer is paid search and then email marketing. On average the retailers spend 18% of their online marketing budget on affiliate marketing.

Retailers like affiliate marketing (also called CPA or cost-per-acquisition) because they only pay an affiliate when a sale is made.

Kevin Cornils, CEO of buy.at explains, ‘Affiliate marketing has proven itself as the most cost effective online channel to drive incremental volume. It works for marketers because they only pay for activity that generates genuine sales?” He even went so far as to say that affiliate marketing “is a guaranteed positive ROI if managed correctly.” You can’t get much more glowing than that.

Mozy Says No to Google, Yes to EMC

By Janet Meiners

Mozy, a company that provides remote backups, is being acquired by EMC for $76 million. Mozy started in May 2005 with an investment of just $1.9 million. That makes for a big return ? almost 40x. CEO Josh Coates and Wasatch Partners should be elated.

Since I’m based in Utah, I tried to get comments from Mozy or their VC firm Wasatch Partners. No one will comment, won’t comment on why they won’t comment, and won’t say when they might. Mozy doesn’t even answer the phones and there is no announcement anywhere on the site. That’s probably forthcoming.

Google Gets Tough on Quality

By Janet Meiners

Advertisers who want to keep their costs down must keep the quality of their landing pages up. Nothing new. But Google recently reiterated their policies on the Inside AdWords blog.

What does Google reward? In both natural and paid search the answer is quality – from a customer point of view. Google rewards landing pages that are easy to navigate and transparent. I will add trust and credibility. Create landing pages and sites that provide a good experience (quality content) for searchers and customers and Google will be happy.

Google was clear about what is not considered quality. They will:

  • get rid of squeeze pages designed to collect a name and email
  • penalize arbitrage sites that are simply pages of ads
  • eliminate sites that knowingly or unknowingly install software (malware)

Google specifically mentioned they discourage “get rich quick” sites, comparison shopping sites, and travel aggregators. This is where affiliates marketers gasp.