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Google Maps Launches Brand Logo Test in US

If you search Google Maps right now, you’ll see little gray generic icons beside the names of businesses to denote their field. Dollar signs for banks, fork and spoon for an eatery, a tiny shopping bag for stores and something that looks like a snail shell for art galleries. (??)

In the quest to make every single pixel count, Google is going to change some of those generic icons to tiny logos for popular brands. According to a report by Brandweek, Google has been testing the idea in Australia and now it’s opening it up to US users. Bank of America, HSBC, Target and Public Storage are the first icons you’ll see on your maps. Right now, Google says they are only offering the option to large brand names with multiple locations and they aren’t sure if it’s a feature that will stick.

Study: 83% of ALL Holiday Shoppers Influenced by Reviews

ChannelAdvisors’ 2010 Consumer Shopping Habits Survey is out just in time for the holiday season. The free report provides valuable insights for anyone in the ecommerce, B2C space.

So, what jumped out at me?

Well, it wasn’t so much that 59% of those surveyed start their gift search at a search engine–with 28% heading straight to a marketplace such as eBay or Amazon–but what did intrigue me were the starts on just how inconsequential brand recognition is.

A surprising 67% said they would purchase an identical product from an unknown website if the retailer offered a better value. Better value? What do they mean by that?

Well, it appears low pricing and free shipping trump all:

Mobile Marketing at the Mall: An Interview with Sam Feuer of FastMall

The Mall of America has 4.2 million square feet of gross building space, 4.3 miles of storefront footage, 520 stores and 40 million visitors annually. Now try to remember where you parked, let alone find a bathroom when you need one. Sam Feuer, CEO of Mindsmack has the solution. It’s a smartphone app called FastMall which is as helpful to advertisers as it is to consumers.

I spent some time with Sam this week talking about FastMall and the rise in mobile marketing.
Let’s begin with a short description of your product and how it came about.

Gap Deal Blitz’s Groupon Servers

Last week, Groupon members got a great deal, $50 worth of clothing at The Gap for only $25. More than 440,000 subscribers took advantage of the deal and they did it so quickly, they temporarily stalled the servers at the popular new deal site.

Part of the reason for the huge influx was that it wasn’t just Groupon members who were clicking. Shortly after the deal was announced, the news spread over thousands of mommy blogs, Twitter accounts and Facebook pages. I came across more than twenty mentions of the deal during my usual travels around the web and it looks like I was one of the rare few who resisted. Still, I’d venture to say that Groupon got a lot of new signups that day.

Moms Want More Mobile Coupons

If you’re looking to reach parents by mobile messaging, send them grocery coupons and more than 50% of them will be happy to accept. That comes from a survey which was conducted by Harris Interactive and it showed that parents with children are more interested in receiving mobile text alerts from merchants than those without kids.

Great news for those of you with family-oriented products, but don’t start texting just yet. The reality is that only 7% (versus 2%) of people with kids said they were extremely interested in getting those messages. A whopping 65% of people with children checked the “not at all” box.

Have You Started Your Holiday Shopping Yet?

If you’re like 35% of the population, you’ve already found a great sweater for Aunt Martha, a singing shark for Grandpa and you’ve got some ideas for the office gift exchange that you get roped into every year.

Ho, ho, ho, it’s time for holiday shopping and the fact that people are already stocking the gift cupboard means that this retail season will be much more profitable than the last.

How individual retailers fare, could be determined by how early they start preparing for holiday traffic. Stores that wait until November to put their best foot forward could end up stuck with shelves of merchandise they can’t unload.

Best Buy Launches ShopKick Program

Earlier today, we talked about how The Gap used a social media push to encourage people to step into their stores this past weekend. Now Best Buy is working on a similar idea with a decidedly “big brother” twist. Starting tomorrow, in 187 stores in major markets all over the US. They plan to follow this with an additional 70 stores by October 1.

The “shopkick” system is designed to detect and reward shoppers just for walking into a Best Buy store. In order to accomplish this feat, consumers must download an application to their smart phone. Right now the app is only available for iPhone but Android is coming soon. On the store’s end, there is a “shopkick Signal” which reaches out and talks to the application when they meet. The conversation includes information on who owns the phone that just walked in and that person gets rewards that they’re calling “kickbucks.” These bonus bucks can be collected and spent in the store as cash.