Archive for June, 2008

Visits to Coupon Websites Up 56% from 2007, Classifieds Site Visits Up 113%

June 18, 2008

The weekly share of U.S. visits to a custom category of coupon websites increased 56 percent for the week ended June 6, 2008 compared with the equivalent week last year as consumers turned to the web to cope with increases in the cost of living, according to Hitwise (via MarketingCharts). received the largest market share of visits within the category at 29 percent, with its market share increasing 190 percent from the same week last year; Coupon Mountain and Eversave followed with 14 percent and 6 percent share, respectively, Hitwise said.

Below, additional findings issued by Hitwise.

Search engines accounted for 20 percent of the traffic referred to coupon sites. Among the top 250 search terms driving traffic to the coupon websites, 60 percent of the search queries include a specific retailer brand or branded product (view table).

The remaining queries were split between generic searches for terms such as “grocery coupons” and “promo codes” and navigation by the names of coupon websites.

“Retailers can entice purchases by making discounts available to price-conscious consumers as the cost of living continues to increase,” said Heather Dougherty, research director at Hitwise. “While discretionary income is shrinking for some households, consumers are still shopping online, but making sure that they find the best deals.”

Additional Cost-Cutting Trends in Retail

U.S. visits to comparison shopping websites increased 51 percent for the week ended June 6, 2008 compared with the equivalent period last year.

U.S. visits to discount retailers increased 25 percent in the week ended June 6 compared with last year, while traditional department stores increased 15 percent.

U.S. searches on the term “coupons” sending visits to Shopping & Classifieds websites doubled for the week ended June 6 compared with the previous year.

Shopping & Classifieds Category Visits Up

The market share of U.S. visits to the Shopping & Classifieds category increased 26 percent in May 2008 compared with May 2007. Moreover, consumers are selling and buying goods through classifieds websites.

The Classifieds sub-category experienced the largest year-over-year growth in monthly market share of visits among the all of the Shopping & Classifieds categories.


Web 2.0 – Integrating Brand and Direct Marketing

June 17, 2008

An irresistible vacuum for
time and VC money

Web 2.0 paves the way for integrating direct and brand marketing, enabling real-time dialog with customers and the joint creation of content that improves brand awareness and perception.

More importantly, all that work can generate sales and leads, according to a new report, MarketingCharts writes.

“New Media Emergence in DM & Brand,” a report from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), approaches “Web 2.0” – blogs, virtual words, social networks, user-generated content, RSS feeds, and wikis – as the seat converging all marketing.

Eugenia Steingold, Ph.D., DMA’s senior research manager, authored the report, which examines how new media is used for brand building and direct marketing. She also investigates possibilities for integrating DM and brand.

Elements most used by Web 2.0 direct marketers are (in order) blogs, online video, user-generated content and social networks:


Other key findings from the study of B2B and B2C DM marketers who use Web 2.0:

* Despite being relatively new, Web 2.0 is apparently recognized as a brand-building channel:
o 84 percent of respondents use it to raise brand awareness.
o 82 percent use Web 2.0 tools to increase brand preference.
* New media is used for direct marketing as much as it is for brand building:
o 83 percent use Web 2.0 to generate sales.
o 80 percent use it to generate leads.
* Most marketers realize the opportunities that new media create for integrating DM and brand:
o 85 percent of respondents use Web 2.0 to engage their customers and rate it as a highly effective mechanism for customer engagement (average rating is 5.3)
o 84 percent of our respondents use Web 2.0 to create a community of loyal customers, and they find it very effective for doing so (the average rating is 5.0).

Other findings:
o 82 percent of respondents allocated a quarter or less of their marketing budget toward Web 2.0.
o 70 percent of those who report that they are experts in interactive marketing also allocate about a quarter of their budget to Web 2.0.

As a complement to the report, DMA is hosting a virtual seminar, “Using New Media – The Link Between DM & Brand,” on Wednesday, May 7.

About the study: in January 2008, DMA deployed an online survey to it target audience, including B2B and B2C direct marketers who use Web 2.0 as part of their marketing strategies, and specifically strive to integrate DM and Brand. The survey was closed for tabulation in late February 2008 and obtained data from 160 respondents who completed the survey.

PC Encroaches on TV’s Screen Time Dominance among Digital Video Users

June 13, 2008

While TV remains the preeminent channel for watching video content, the PC is slowly encroaching on TV’s territory by capturing an increasing amount of screen time among those who download or stream video online, according to research from Ipsos MediaCT, MarketingCharts writes.

The percentage of video consumed on a TV among video downloaders and streamers (some 52 percent of Americans age 12+ who have ever done so) declined from 75 percent in February 2007 to 70 percent in February 2008 – a small but significant drop in overall “share of screen time” among digital video users.

At the same time, the percentage of video consumed on a PC among digital video users increased from 11 percent to 19 percent during the same period, according to findings of Ipsos MediaCT’s MOTION – its quarterly tracking study investigating digital video usage and behaviors in the US.

In addition, the percentage of total screen time captured by movie theaters also declined significantly in the past year.

“Streaming video online has become an activity many Americans aren’t just experimenting with, but enjoy on a regular basis. Today, about half of all internet users aged 12 and up have streamed a video file online in the past 30 days,” said Director of Ipsos MediaCT Adam Wright

“While the number of device options are growing for consumers to access and watch their favorite video content, what isn’t necessarily changing is the location where we enjoy this video content – our homes,” Wright said.

Rise in PC’s Share Across Age, Gender Groups

The phenomenon of watching more video content on a PC is relatively consistent by age group and gender.

Teens age 12-17 are the only age group watching a significantly larger percentage of their video content on portable devices. Not surprisingly, then, teens also experienced the largest drop in the share of screen time they devote to the TV.

New video playback devices, such as the Apple TV and Roku’s Netflix Player, are coming onto the market specifically trying to bridge the gap between traditional viewing habits and the growing demand for more convenient access and management of digital video content, Ipsos said.

“We really see these share gains in nontraditional video channels as not simply an isolated, generation-driven market effect, but rather a large macro-trend in the way consumers want their video content delivered that those in the entertainment industry should increasingly be paying attention to as we look forward to the rest of 2008 and beyond,” Wright concluded.

About the study: Data were sourced from the Q1 ’08 Deep Dive wave of fieldwork as part of Ipsos MediaCT’s MOTION study, which was conducted online among a representative US sample of internet users age 12 years and older in February 2008.

Politics may block InBev’s Anheuser-Busch bid

June 12, 2008


Jun 12, 7:22 AM (ET)


(AP) In this July 24, 2008 file photo, cars stream past a sign advertising Budweiser beer in St. Louis….
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ST. LOUIS (AP) – Belgian Brewer InBev is offering a big payday to shareholders of Anheuser-Busch Cos. (BUD) (BUD) Inc., but its bid to create the world’s largest beer company is already facing a major obstacle – U.S. election-year politics.

InBev SA, whose brands include Beck’s and Stella Artois, delivered an unsolicited all-cash bid of $65 a share for Anheuser-Busch, which makes Budweiser, Michelob and Bud Light. That’s well above the St. Louis-based company’s closing share price of $58.35 Wednesday.

But politicians and activists are already lining up against the deal, saying it could cost jobs in the United States and send ownership of an iconic American company overseas. With economic concerns at the front of voters’ minds, the opposition could cause a headache for InBev.

Republican Gov. Matt Blunt said Wednesday he opposes the deal, and directed the Missouri Department of Economic Development to see if there was a way to stop it.

“I am strongly opposed to the sale of Anheuser-Busch, and today’s offer to purchase the company is deeply troubling to me,” Blunt said in a statement.

Web sites have sprung up opposing the deal on patriotic grounds, arguing that such an iconic U.S. firm shouldn’t be handed over to foreign ownership. One of the sites, called, was launched by Blunt’s former chief of staff, Ed Martin.

“Shareholders should resist choosing dollars over American jobs,” Martin said in a statement Wednesday night. “Selling out to the Belgians is not worth it – because this is about more than beer: it’s about our jobs and our nation.”

If the deal goes through, it would create a beer-brewing giant and mark just the latest phase of consolidation in an industry facing rising ingredient costs and stale demand in the United States.

“Anheuser-Busch said that its board of directors will evaluate the proposal carefully and in the context of all relevant factors, including Anheuser-Busch’s long-term strategic plan,” the company said in a statement. “The board will pursue the course of action that is in the best interests of Anheuser-Busch’s stockholders.”

A spokeswoman said the company would not comment beyond the statement.

InBev Chief Executive Carlos Brito said the deal would boost both companies, giving InBev access to the U.S. market while expanding Anheuser-Busch’s reach overseas.

“We have the highest respect for Anheuser-Busch, its employees and its leadership, who have built the leading brewer in the U.S. and grown the iconic Budweiser brand. Together, we would draw on the collective expertise of both companies’ management and employees.”

Shares of Anheuser-Busch soared 7.6 percent to $62.80 after regular trading hours, when the announcement was made. They had risen 2 percent in late-afternoon trading, when rumors of the deal were reported on CNBC. Speculation has been rife in recent weeks that the deal might occur.

InBev was formed in 2004 when Belgium’s Interbrew merged with South America’s biggest brewer AmBev. Since then, the company has cut jobs in several European countries while its sales were boosted by strong demand in Latin American countries.

Worries about job cuts at Anheuser-Busch could be justified. InBev has a reputation for squeezing costs out of the companies it acquires, said Benj Steinman, editor of the Beer Marketer’s Insights trade publication. Because of its size – and control of nearly half the U.S. beer market – Anheuser-Busch could be a ripe target for cost-cutting.

“One theory is that their own cost reductions are winding down in Europe and Asia and around the world, and they need somewhere to sort of implement what they’re best at,” Steinman said.

InBev tried to allay those fears Wednesday, saying it would not close any Anheuser-Busch breweries and would make St. Louis the headquarters for its North American division. The company also said it would invite some Anheuser-Busch directors to join InBev’s board.

Anheuser-Busch executives have made cost-cutting a goal over the last two years. Sales in the United States have been stagnant as consumers turn toward wine and cocktails, and the rising costs of ingredients have bitten into profit margins.

Last year, Anheuser-Busch turned a profit of $2.12 billion, up nearly 8 percent from $1.97 billion in 2006. But its core brands of Budweiser and Bud Light continued to lag as sales of craft beers and imports rose.

While the InBev deal looks sweet on paper, it’s far from a sure thing. InBev said it plans to pay for the deal with $40 billion in debt, and raising so much capital could be tough as banks tighten their standards during a global credit crunch.

InBev’s statement said the company has “strong support” from a number of financial institutions, including Barclays Capital, Deutsche Bank and JPMorgan. The company would pay for part of the deal by divesting some “noncore assets” along with equity financing.

Opposition to the deal is sure to be stiff in St. Louis. offers visitors yard signs and bumper stickers to express their distaste for the purchase.

“Like baseball, apple pie and ice cold beer (wrapped in a red, white and blue label), Anheuser-Busch is an American original,” the site says.

6 ways to enhance user experience

June 11, 2008
Presenting customers with more immersive and interactive web interfaces can elicit excitement, loyalty and plenty of referred traffic. Find out how smart sites keep their users happy.

With the widespread adoption of technologies like AJAX, consumers are getting accustomed to more powerful and responsive websites where content fades, updates dynamically and responds to their input instead of the old pattern of click-refresh, click-refresh.

To remain competitive, marketers must be prepared to use advanced technology to deliver enhanced interfaces and experiences to their customers. Presenting customers with more immersive and interactive web interfaces can elicit excitement, loyalty and plenty of referred traffic. Conversely, sites that are frustrating to use and slow to render lead to customer dissatisfaction, site abandonment and significant loss in overall sales.

In this article, we’ll explore new interaction techniques that can take your online marketing efforts to the next level. Keep in mind that just because you implement these doesn’t necessarily mean that people will flock to your site in admiration. Many of these techniques can be used in subtle ways to iteratively improve an existing design, and it’s important to target specific areas of the site that will benefit the most from increased interaction and experiment with the solutions below. As always, usability testing is the only way to verify the design is successful.

Autocomplete involves a website predicting a word or phrase that the customer wants to type in without actually typing it in completely. This feature works best when the website can predict how the customer may finish a word. Email addresses, city names, airports, tags and salutations are all good targets.

To implement successfully, the autocomplete results should come up after typing a minimum of three characters, be keyboard-navigable and mouse-hover enabled. Most of the time, autocomplete is used to aid in completing a single form field, but on, when customers select an option, it completes not only the city field, but also the state and country. This is particularly convenient for customers, given that addresses are often long and difficult to type correctly.

Autocomplete can be easily added to your site if you haven’t already.

Consider for a moment: How else can you make data entry on your site quicker?

The only complex part is determining what data to return to the customer as he or she is typing. If you have a search feature on your website, compile a list of most used searched terms and start from there.

While it’s common to go into an “edit mode” to adjust data, edit-in-place allows customers to perform quick, simple edits simply by clicking the text to be edited. By keeping the customer in the same context and letting their mouse clicks switch between “view mode” and “edit mode” at will, they’ll get things done quickly and get less frustrated about wasted time. is well-known for its edit-in-place titles and descriptions for any photo you’ve uploaded. A good best practice to follow is a hover state affordance: the editable area highlights in pale yellow and a “click to edit” tooltip appears.

If you run an e-commerce business, think about using this technique in a shopping cart — the prices instantly update when you change a quantity or the shipping ZIP code.

A carousel enables you to feature plenty of content in a small space. Pictures are often used in a carousel, but recipes, new blurbs, or categories of links are all appropriate. uses a carousel to feature personalized product recommendations. By using the paddles on the side, customers can browse from side-to-side to what they want to focus on.

Keep in mind that many visitors may not ever see the items that are out of view, so don’t use this space for critical information. A subtle sliding animation can help customers understand the widget, as well as give them a peek at the items to the side of the current view.

Does your site have a large set of content to show but not enough space to show all items at once? If so, this is a natural place where a carousel can be used to create a unique experience.

An accordion enables sections of content to expand or collapse so only one displays at a time. When you click on a header, the visible content collapses and the desired content expands into view. Just like the carousel, the accordion gives you a chance to showcase extra content in a confined area.

The Reebok Run Easy site uses an accordion to guide visitors through a multi-step process. When implementing, all headers should look clickable and have a hover treatment. If the accordion is part of a process, provide a “continue” button to proceed to the next step.

What are the most common processes that customers are doing on your website? Registration? Checkout? Understanding which of these tasks can be optimized for your customers will help to improve the overall conversion rates on your site.

A modal pop-up is a window created within the page that instantly displays and centers content and establishes focus. Modal pop-ups can be useful for image zooming, watching video or asking for login credentials, like in the example below from

Other sites like are using a modal pop-up in the form of a “lightbox” to show the full-size image when a thumbnail is clicked.

This technique makes interaction speedy but may confuse your customers if they don’t know how to get out of it. Always create a very clear (and large) close button in the top right of the pop-up.

Modal pop-ups are particularly useful to ensure visibility of an important message, or to prompt the customer for input before continuing. If your site includes circumstances where decisions need to be made, it will probably benefit from these enhancements.

Typically, when you reach the bottom of a search results page in a search engine like Google, you click “Next,” wait five seconds and start from the top again.

With infinite scroll, the next results are retrieved automatically for you as you approach the bottom of the page. By the time you’re there, the search results have already been appended to your current view. This technique utilizes AJAX and isn’t trivial to implement, but it creates a customer experience that surprises people with its intuitiveness.

Placing results on separate pages isn’t limited to search sites. Any content that is currently paged is a great target for infinite scroll: news articles, search results, forum posts and blog posts. Does your site require customers to click from page to page? If so, you may be giving them the opportunity to leave your site. Don’t force your customers to ask for more content. Consider areas on your site where you can just give it to them.

There is a now wealth of technology that affords your web presence a more dynamic and rich interface. Providing this interface to your customers will deliver conversion, loyalty and engagement. While you can implement everything here, you have to judge if it’s appropriate for your business and your customer’s goals. But with a successful design and execution, you’ll see a positive growth in your online presence.

Boomers More Traditional Online – Not into Blogs, Social Networking

June 10, 2008

People over age 40 participate heavily in word-of-mouth and value personal recommendations and expert opinions, but they have not embraced social networking or blogs despite being heavy users of other online services, according to a ThirdAge/JWT Boom study, writes MarketingCharts.

Below, some findings from the study, which surveyed 1,800 boomers:

Social Networking, Their Own Way

Boomers want to connect and interact with others in their communities around shared interests and common issues, but they use more traditional web communications tools, such as email, to keep in touch. For example (see chart):

* 96 percent use email
* 92 percent stay in touch with family/friends
* 84 percent receive photos of family/friends

Asked whether they visited any sites to connect and engage with others – i.e., social networking sites (MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) – or might in the future…

* 53 percent said no
* 22 percent said yes
* 26 percent said that they did not but might.

Among the 53 percent who said they had not visited such sites:

* 47 percent cited concerns over privacy and having personal information on the web
* 39 percent said they are too busy
* 32 percent said they do not see the benefit of spending time social networking.

Boomers also expressed “little or no interest” in the following activities (see chart):

* 67 percent Writing blogs
* 63 percent Participating in general social networking
* 62 percent Playing games with others
* 55 percent Listening to podcasts/prerecorded audio content
* 44 percent Downloading music

Embracing Online Marketing… Selectively

Boomers participate in trusted online communities and share opinions about brands. They’re also open to traditional marketing and e-marketing, as long as the message is coming from a source or brand they know and trust.

* 75 percent who have received promotional emails about products and services have clicked through to the site being promoted.
* More than 55 percent have purchased a product or service promoted in an email.
* 93 percent of respondents who have read an article about a website in print (newspaper or magazine) have later visited the site online.

Cautious Trust of Websites

Respondents were most likely to trust a website’s content if the site corresponded to a trusted brand or featured credible expertise.

* 83 percent reported the content needed to be attributed to experts, authors or authorities with subject-matter credibility
* 66 percent said they trust sites whose content is sponsored by a company they know and trust
* 62 percent said they would trust a site if they had been going to it for a long time and came to trust its brand

Other Survey Findings:

* Boomers participate in viral or word-of-mouth marketing as much as or more than younger age groups. 93 percent of respondents were very or somewhat likely to share product information or news with friends
* 80 percent of respondents use a broadband connection at home.

Boomers alone account for 78 million people in the U.S. and control more than 83 percent of consumer spending. Some 40 percent of the U.S. population is over 45, with 50 percent market growth projected in the next 15 years. Boomer spending is expected to surpass $4.6 trillion by 2015.