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Price Still Most Important Factor for Retail Success, But Losing Ground

Traditionally, the website selling a particular product at the lowest price has a huge advantage over the competition. However, according to a recent study from Shopzilla, that may be changing.

The survey of about 2,000 online shoppers revealed that 49% of shoppers considered the price to be most important factor in making a buying decision. That is down from 59% in 2003.

So what factor is taking the pace of price? The answer may surprise you–18% of shoppers said that customer feedback is the most important factor. Only 7% picked customer feedback in 2003.

As the web becomes more and more dominated by user generated content, it is obvious that customer feedback about companies and products will continue to grow in importance. This trend especially gives hope to small online retailers that cannot compete on price, because smaller companies should normally have an advantage in customer satisfaction.

Seniors to Take Over Internet Usage in the UK

Hitwise reports today that “silver surfers” aged 55+ are poised to become the largest age demographic of Internet users in the UK. Heather Hopkins, VP of Research for Hitwise UK reports that this population segment has grown 54% over the last two years, now composting 29% of the Internet usage in the UK.

What are seniors looking at? The same things as everyone else, in large part: search engines, adult sites and shopping & classified sites. However, they do spend more time than other demographics on sites about travel and news & media sites. As Heather says, “Cruise, Family, Stocks and Shares, E-Greetings and Yachting and Boating websites receive the highest concentration of visits from silver surfers. Cruise websites, for example, received 48% of their traffic from UK Internet users aged 55+ in the four weeks to 12th May 2007.”

Combating Click Fraud

By Greg Howlett.

A study conducted by Fair Isaacs has concluded that 10-15% of all advertising dollars spent on PPC search engine campaigns are wasted. 

A similar study from Click Forensics in January supports the Fair Isaac conclusion.  Not surprisingly, Google does not agree, claiming that click fraud accounts for less than 2% of actual advertising billing.

As intelligent as Google may be, it is absolutely impossible for them to detect all click fraud, and there is no question in my mind that this problem is far worse than they will admit.

Fair Isaac Study Claims Click Fraud Numbers are Higher than Search Engines Suggest

Fair Isaac is dipping its toe in the click fraud tracking waters, with the release of its own study into fraudulent search engine clicks.

The company, best known for helping evaluate consumer credit-worthiness and reducing credit card fraud, is contemplating the development of a new solution for click fraud. Ahead of any decision, Fair Isaac will present the preliminary findings of its own investigation at a conference today.

After reviewing a handful of Web sites since last August, Fair Isaac believes 10 to 15 percent of the advertising traffic is “pathological,” indicating a likelihood of click fraud, said Joseph Milana, the company’s chief scientist of research and development. “It’s still an early result,” Milana said. “The question remains about how broad the problem is in the entire marketplace.”

Podcasting: Who’s Listening?

As Edison Media Research reported in March, podcasting has experienced 18% growth year-over-year. This is good news for podcasters and those thinking about joining the medium. comScore published findings this week on the iTunes podcast audience and compared their stats with their numbers on the general Internet population.

Perhaps comScore’s most interesting finding, is the fact that, while the 18-25 year old set naturally dominated (29%), the 35-44 year old and 45-54 year old groups weren’t too far behind, with 27% and 23% of the audience respectively.

It might be important to note that there are (at least) two audiences here. Unless I’m doing something wrong, I don’t think that most 18-24 year olds are making over $75k (although they may still be living in their parents’ houses and counting their parents’ incomes). So you have the 35-54 year olds, who are educated and making decent money as an entirely separate—and larger—demographic than the traditional “youth” set we associate with podcasting.

Word-of-Mouth the Most Influential for B2B Execs

Over at eMarketer, they’ve compiled some recent reports that suggest executives in business to business industries rely heavily on referrals and word of mouth, when making buying decisions.

“One-to-one communications make the difference in the B2B industry,” says eMarketer Senior Analyst Lisa Phillips. “Word-of-mouth can be generated from trade events such as shows and conferences. The Internet helps to sustain marketing momentum.”

Internet channels also look like they’re playing a strong part in influence business buying decisions. Who’s influenced by what they see on the web?

  • Online magazines influence 36.5%
  • Search engine natural listing 24.1%
  • Technology blogs 19.6%
  • Media/analyst blogs 10%
  • Paid search ads 6.8%
  • Vendor blogs 4.6%
  • Unsolicited email 4%
  • RSS feeds 3.6%
  • Podcasts 2.7%

Hitwise Dashboards to Consolidate Competitive Intelligence

Hitwise announces today their newest product: Hitwise Dashboards, “a new interactive report that enables marketers to review customized competitive intelligence information from a single page in the Hitwise interface.” These reports feature current information on marketers’ most important metrics.

The competitive reports include up-to-date information on:

  • The relative market share of their brand within [an] industry online
  • The sources of traffic among competitors’ sites
  • The percentage of traffic from affiliate partners
  • The brands and products that are top of mind among consumers
  • Demographic data and Lifestyle segmentation data

Last week, Hitwise announced the “Hitwise to Go” product to deliver online consumer usage information for journalists and academics via RSS. These announcements come less than a month after Hitwise was acquired by Experian for their Marketing Solutions business.