“Cyber Friday”

When we think about the Thanksgiving weekend and online sales, we’re conditioned to think "Cyber Monday."  But now there’s another online sales story to report -- Black Friday.

While Cyber Monday saw a record $1.25B in online sales this year, a somewhat underreported story was that Black Friday also set a record by bringing in $816MM– or nearly the same amount spent on Cyber Monday just two years ago.   

Increased Black Friday online sales are being driven by:

  • A behavioral shift among consumers. In 2010, 49% of consumers surveyed after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend said that they shopped less in stores on Thanksgiving weekend because they were shopping online instead. In addition, an increasing number of online shoppers report that they are now pre-shopping online for Black Friday deals.
  • High traffic throughout the weekend. This year, Thanksgiving Day took the top spot for holiday weekend online traffic, but Black Friday finished second -- edging out Cyber Monday by a nose.  Data from Experian Hitwise shows that traffic to the top 500 online retailers increased by 2% YOY on Black Friday to more than 170 million unique visits.
  • The consumer perception that better deals can be found online. 58% of US online adults say that they are more price-conscious today than they were a year ago. 48% maintained that they found better values and deals online.   
Read more

Twitter Launches Brand Pages: What It Means For You

Yesterday, Twitter announced the launch of its highly anticipated brand pages. The move is being lauded as the next logical step for the social network in attempting to bring its offerings in line with competitive services for companies -- like the already-launched Google+ brand pages and the perennial favorite Facebook pages. But how exactly will the changes help brands or change the way they interact? 

First, the the pages offer marketers more branding opportunities. A large banner on the top of the page will let you show off your logo or other creative without worry that it'll get lost behind the Twitter stream like your custom background images may on your current pages.  

Second, you'll be able to make a tweet sticky by pinning it to the top of your stream -- with media like photos or videos -- for as long as you choose. 

These features sound -- and are -- good news to marketers who've wanted better tools to create a destination for their audiences on Twitter. But remember, the majority of interaction with your followers on Twitter happens in the stream, not on your brand page. So while these new tools will let you position your Twitter presence better to capture new followers, you still have to have a clear strategy for engaging your followers once you've got them . . .

Read more

My Next Adventure

I am both disappointed and excited to announce that I am leaving Forrester. As of next week I'll be returning to the agency world to put my research concepts into practice. It has been a real honor being a Forrester analyst. I can’t tell begin to tell you how intelligent, inspiring, and energetic the people are at this organization. It’s not just the Forrester people either.  The opportunity to connect with so many smart people from marketing organizations, agencies, and technology companies has been tremendous as well. I will truly miss this role.

I know I’m leaving you in good hands as the interactive marketing team here is doing some great research. I encourage you to follow the social and mobile marketing work that Melissa Parrish is doing. Her latest research on location based social networking is a great read. I know I’ll be reading the research Joanna O’Connell and Michael Greene are doing on the future of digital media. I’ll miss my conversations with our newer analysts like Elizabeth Shaw and Ari Osur regarding emerging technologies and peer influence. I’ll also continue to stay connected to veterans such as Shar Vanboskirk and Nate Elliott as they write about the changing marketing organization, social media, and best practices in global interactive marketing. Finally I’ll just miss the great camaraderie and the constant education I got from working with people like Josh Bernoff, Suresh Vittal, Dave Frankland, Zach Hofer-Shall, Chris Stutzman, and the many, many others I could list here.

Read more

The Data Digest: The Profile Of Digital Moms

Since 2007, Forrester has been advising companies about how to use its POST— people, objectives, strategy, technology — methodology to develop social media strategies that help them engage with their audiences via social media. Since then, social media uptake has grown enormously, and brands now have a multitude of social platforms from which to choose. Before you decide which platforms to go with, do you actually know where your audience is in the social media world?

Even today, when social media usage is close to mainstream in the US, different target groups still show different behaviors. For example, when you want to target moms, you have to understand what makes them tick online.

Forrester’s Technographics data shows that the majority (71%) of US female Internet users are Joiners and Spectators. They maintain their profiles on social networking sites and actively consume shared content online. This shows that it is important for brands to have a website, a blog, videos on YouTube, and a social network presence. It is also important for brands to update the information on their website or social network profile regularly and make it both informative and entertaining.

Read more

What You Need To Know About The Online Sales Tax Debate

As the debate around mandating an online sales tax rages on, Forrester remains convinced that 2012 will see no significant national change to the current tax structure.  As stated in my new report, “What You Need To Know About The Online Sales Tax” and a previous blog post around the issue, some are framing the debate in such a way that online-only companies like Amazon and eBay are tax-shirking delinquents; they’re not. Not only are they in compliance with current law, Amazon, who was at one point resolutely opposed to any new legislation, has made concessions to voluntarily start collecting tax and in fact, physical retailers may soon regret their staunch stances as the balancing act that Amazon avoided around nexus kept them squarely away from physical stores to date.  Now, that may change and create yet another headache for retailers as Amazon reportedly ponders stores.

So what does this all mean? There is likely to be a few more years of heated debate around the issue followed by a number of possible outcomes. eBusiness professionals should stay abreast of situation, but realize that this is not likely to be a game changer for the following reasons:

  • Tax has a negligible impact on online shopping behavior.  In a survey that was conducted in partnership with Bizrate Insights, we found only 8% of consumers said that tax was a priority consideration. Furthermore, only around one quarter of buyers said that the introduction of a sales tax would cause them to switch retailers.
Read more


Google One-Day Shipping + Google Wallet = PIDM, Phase I?

By now, you’ve likely read a whole host of stories about Google’s reported play at competing with Amazon’s Prime "one-day shipping" program. The crux of it? The internet giant is planning to leverage its local search product to offer consumers a same-day shipping option if they purchase from a participating retailer.

There are plenty of challenges to this business model, many of which are covered here and here--logistics, data sharing, and cost structure are just three key issues that Google would need to tackle head-on to make such a program viable. Nonetheless, it got me thinking... there’s an aspect of this proposed plan that is awfully intriguing from a Personal Identity Management (PIDM) perspective. 

Google could effectively build the first purchase transaction personal data locker. Here's how:

  • In order to facilitate delivery, Google would have to capture transaction data at the product level.
    • This would let consumers maintain "anytime-anywhere" access to their purchase history. Imagine never again rooting around for a receipt to return an item, or trying to remember which size bags your vacuum cleaner takes.
Read more


2012 Interactive Marketing Predictions: I Give You The Year Of The Social-Mobile Customer

When I look back at our predictions for 2011, we focused on the changes needed in the IM organization. Specifically the need to tear down walls between channels. We urged marketers to be customer-obsessed rather than channel-obsessed because we saw the dawn of a new consumer, one who uses tablets while they watch TV, uses social networks more often on their phone than on their computer, and who doesn't think of their "inbox" as just their Gmail account, but as any message they happen to get on any screen they happen to be looking at. Well, I certainly hope you listened to our prediction for 2011, because if you haven't started coordinating your interactive marketing efforts, you won't be ready for 2012, when the truly multiscreen consumer emerges.

Today, our predictions for 2012 come out. We foresee a year where the consumer is "always on" and demands a custom experience from the companies they do business with. Think about it, which companies do you allow in your pocket? Only the few who you really need, or like, or are entertained by. In 2012 we predict that marketers must:

  • Customize messaging across screens, and at scale
  • Ditch mobile ads for mobile "value-adds"
  • Move pilots offshore to emerging markets
Read more

Thoughts From The 2012 TVOT Conference: Where Are The Marketers?

Yesterday, Researcher Mike Glantz on my team attended the TV of Tomorrow (TVOT) conference in New York City. Practically from the conference floor, here is what he had to say:

"The conference was a packed house of technology vendors, data providers, advertising agencies, multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs), and TV networks all discussing their collective vision for the future for TV as we know it. I wasn’t able to catch all the panels, but some key themes I noted from the ones I was able to attend:

  • Multitasking has changed how TV is measured. Measurement companies like Nielsen, Comscore, and Rentrak are fully aware of how consumers are multitasking with laptops, smartphones, and tablets and the additive effects multitasking has on TV watching. All three are taking steps to build single-source measurement panels that can accurately track cross-platform media exposure. On the startup side, companies like Bluefin Labs and Trendrr showed some of the ways they are tapping into social media data to uncover cross-platform engagement for TV shows.
  • Technology companies and TV programmers are ready to engage their audiences on second screens. I was continually impressed by announcements and demos from Shazam, Ensequence, Zeitera, and TVplus that showed how mobile applications (and soon TV themselves) can seamlessly sync to TV shows and instantaneously provide additional show content and co-branded ads.
Read more

Is Nielsen In Trouble?


This past week, Rino Scanzoni, chief investment officer at GroupM, openly decried Nielsen’s national, sample-based TV measurement. Although Scanzoni has an inherent bias (GroupM’s parent WPP owns Nielsen competitor, Kantar, which has a set-top-box data-based TV measurement system of its own called RaPiDview), his words still speak volumes about the state of TV audience measurement and the need for a new system.

In our report earlier this year, "TV’s Currency Conversion" (client access required), we predicted that set-top-box data would start to gain traction in local markets where Nielsen’s samples were especially small and statistically unstable. Since then, data providers like Rentrak and Kantar have been gaining traction in these local markets, offering marketers granular user-level data from local cable companies’ set-top boxes. Nielsen, too, is aggregating set-top-box data as part of a push for a hybrid methodology, but these efforts are confined to its small local market; its legacy national measurement methodology continues to be based on a relatively small sample of households.

However, Nielsen has more problems on its hands than local TV measurement. Consumers are constantly multitasking with other devices while they watch TV. With attention spans no longer guaranteed during commercial breaks, marketers need new ways to measure their ads not just on TV but also across smartphones, tablets, and laptops as well. As media fragmentation continues to grow, marketers will need behavioral cross-platform metrics that measure their audiences across multiple media touchpoints.

Read more

Can Highly Regulated Industries Be Gamified?


Gamification continues to be a hot topic for interactive marketers, and I expect this trend to continue well into the new year. For one, it's not industry-specific and it has various applications. Vendors like Bunchball, Badgevilleand BigDoor can enable it through their SaaS platforms. CrowdTwist focuses on developing social loyalty and rewards programs but leverages game mechanics. Lithium gamifies online communities. The space is growing — fast.  One of the most interesting things has been the interest I have seen from highly regulated industries such as financial services, healthcare, and pharmaceutical. They see gamification as their ticket to drive different behaviors and actions like losing weight or decreasing your credit card debt.  

Over the next month, I'll be looking for examples in these industries for an upcoming report and for additional research on the space in early next year. How do you think highly regulated industries can benefit from applying game mechanics on their web and mobile properties to drive action? What examples have you seen that you would like to share?