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Amazon Provides Economic Light in Dark Days

Amazon had a great fourth quarter as reported today in the WSJ. Sales were up 18% and profits rose Those numbers are pretty strong when things are going well but in today’s economy these are outrageous results.

Here’s a few more numbers to drool over. Earnings of $225 million for the quarter ended Dec 31st. This is compared to earnings of $207 million for the same period a year earlier. What’s that you ask a company that’s experiencing growth year over year in this environment? Yup, that’s right. Oh and the $6.7 billion (with a “b”) revenue number for the quarter is very impressive indeed.

Paid Search Ends 2008 On a Positive Note – Up 12%

By Rene LeMerle

For the best part of 2008, we heard the common tale of marketing budgets being shifted online, as companies sought affordable and measurable results. It seems the retail sector was no exception.

A report out by search management firm SearchIgnite suggests retail paid search grew 12% in Q4 2008, compared to 2007’s fourth quarter results. The growth trend was consistent across all the top three search engines (Google, Yahoo! and MSN).

Of the three months in Q4, Nov 2008 was the stand out, experiencing a phenomenal increase of 43%, which suggests retailers we going on the offensive to leverage Black Friday/Cyber Monday activity. Roger Barnette, president of SearchIgnite said:

Cyber Monday Numbers Uninspiring

The Cyber Monday numbers are in, and unfortunately, they aren’t exactly what we all hoped for. According to the New York Times, Cyber Monday had only a 1% increase this year over last. This number came as a surprise as total transactions were up 14% over last year. 

So why the small increase? It all comes down to the order size. Consumers spent, on average, $7.19 less per transaction this year. In 2007 consumers averaged $58.81 per transaction. This year, that number fell to $51.62.

These numbers were calculated by Chase Paymentech’s Cyber Holiday Pulse Index, in which they surveyed 25 of the largest 150 Internet payment processing networks. The decrease in average spend is likely the result or an increased amount of discounts available to consumers this year.

Cyber Monday: Kickstart to Christmas?

By Peter Young

The specter of a credit crunch/recession has been looming large both in the US and the UK over the last year or so, with resulting bottom lines significantly affected. For many retailers this has seen Christmas come later than in previous years, with many retailers only starting to see the increases in traffic normally associated with the festive time of year.

However according to some research on both sides of the pond, things are starting to look a little brighter. A recent report by Comscore suggested Cyber Monday became the second heaviest online spending day in history (eclipsed only be that of Green Monday, December 10th 2007). For those wondering what all these days are, here’s the overview

Microsoft Launches Live Mobile Product Search, Locator

Microsoft announced late yesterday the launch of a new mobile search offering—product search under their Live brand. Microsoft’s browser-based mobile product search, accessible from

The Live product search page displays products available in online stores (though the “Near Santa Cruz, CA” in the screen cap below would indicate that brick-and-mortars are also searched), including prices, ratings and reviews. The search results also composite ratings on specific features of the products, including things such as ease of use, and report the results back to you.

A sample generic search results page:
mobile product search from microsoft live

As part of this roll out, Live is also launching the “Find My Location” feature in the UK and Japan, triangulating users’ locations from cell phone towers. The feature, which currently only works with Vodafone, O2, Orange or T-Mobile networks in the UK, is similar to Google’s “My Location” feature, announced in November. Acquiring Rival

Travel search engine is paying $196 million to acquire its closest competitor Both are search engines to help travelers find the best prices on airfare, hotels, and car rentals. Like most search engines, they make money with partnerships and advertising.

The deal was financed from many sources, starting with Sequoia Capital, General Catalyst Partners and Accel Partners. SideStep investors include Norwest Venture Partners and Trident Capital. New investors Oak Investment Partners and Lehman Brothers Venture Partners.

They do plan to keep both sites separate in style and branding but combine some of their technology. Kayak looks more like a search engine, while SideStep is has a richer interface and more content (Kayak’s blog could use some influence from SideStep). Kayak has some plugins and widgets while SideStep has a review site and social network for travelers.

Black Friday Deals at Retrevo

Americans will spend upwards of $48 billion on consumer electronics this holiday. Many need some help deciding out what to buy. You can search Google for hours or look at comparison sites, or you can go to Retrevo to find that GPS or iPhone.

The site is a shopping search engine to help you find the best deals as well as reviews, and blog posts about products. You can choose to get advice from the experts or community. If you’re shopping for Black Friday deals they have a list. They aggregate product information where you can find lists of most popular lists from CNET, Amazon, PriceGrabber, and other sites.