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Google’s Blue Dot Marks the Availability Spot

Google has announced that a service that was previewed last December is now live for mobile devices. I’ll call it the “Blue Dot of Availability” which is stupid but it’s the best I can do. This function is just more evidence that Google is making mobile a top priority and it is giving retailers the ability to come along for the ride.

The Google Mobile blog tells us more

We’re happy to announce that as of today, if you’re searching for a product that is sold by participating retailers, including Best Buy, Sears, Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, or West Elm, you can just look for the blue dots in the search results to see if it’s available in a local store. If you see a blue dot, you can tap on the adjacent “In stock nearby” link, and you’ll be taken to the seller’s page where you’ll see whether the item is “In Stock” or has “Limited Availability” near you. You’ll also see how far away the stores are from you — as long as you’ve enabled My Location or manually specified your location.

Colorado: Another State of Confusion

Being a resident of North Carolina I have had the experience of watching the state government take away an income stream for people in a time when income streams can be little more like a trickle. It did this through imposing a tax on Amazon affiliate sales in the state and Amazon essentially said “No problem, we’ll just remove the program from your residents reach”. I marveled at what can only be seen as utter stupidity on the surface (I say on the surface because that’s where I sit and have no other details) as the government pulled the rug out from under its own citizens thus removing dollars from the North Carolina economy over a dispute about the tax on those transactions. The state essentially threw out the baby, the bathwater and the tub. Way to go NC state government!

Study Shows Facebook’s Retail Appeal

Everyone in the world of marketing whether you are online or offline (or hopefully the right combination of the two) wants to better define social media and its uses. Different sectors or verticals see how the various social media tools impact their particular type of business and no two seem to act alike. Much of that has to do with having too little real data to draw firm conclusions from and the learning curve that is occurring on the customer side of this equation.

Google Talking Out of Both Sides of Its Mouth on China?

When Google announced that it would no longer play nicely with China, some suggested that this was a just a ploy to pull out of a country that it was struggling to dominate.

Of course, Google’s official stance was that it was just too much of a compromise to operate any business in China:

We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.

Except maybe, for one that’s already successful…

Social Network Traffic to Retail Grows

We’ve seen the trend for a long time: social networks are sending more and more downstream traffic to retail sites. Hitwise has the numbers from December—and the downstream traffic from social networks is up 37%.

The change doesn’t look super significant, I know, but it’s the biggest percentage increase for any category. Fewer people are starting at retailers’ sites or through permission email, so search engines and social media are more important than ever.

So is it more because users are recommending deals to their friends, or is it because of retailers’ presence on social networks? Likely both. Hitwise found that many users were actively seeking info on popular retailers.

50% of Marketers Shifting Funds From Traditional to Online; Social “Top Priority”

We already know that 84% of marketers plan to shift some of their direct marketing budgets to social media. Now, a new report from the Society of Digital Agencies suggests that 50% of marketers will shift budgets from traditional to online media.

Not only that, but the highest priority for this newly allocated budget is social networks:

Now, before all of your social media experts pee your pants with excitement, consider this. While social networking is the top priority, that doesn’t mean that companies expert to spend boatloads on it. In fact, according to this chart, social networking is #4 on the pecking order:

US Holiday E-Commerce Spend Up 4% Year Over Year

The numbers are in according to one tracking firm, comScore, which tell us just how good, bad or indifferent this past holiday season was from an online perspective. With a 4 % increase over last year I wouldn’t say good or bad and maybe not even indifferent. How about we’ll just take it because let’s face it, the economy still sucks.

The data covers the entire November through December time frame. There were some contributing factors that lent to the overall numbers being in the black. Here are some comScore observations.