Commentary

Searches Heading Into Holidays, Black Friday

Holiday-Sseason-October saw strong year-over-year growth for revenue, orders, clicks and conversions. Searches and purchases via desktops and mobile devices continue to rise as the online ad industry moves closer to Black Friday, but retailers could miss the boat if executives remain close-minded or slow-moving when it comes to adopting emerging technologies that help consumers find information or buy products -- especially if store clerks become busy and overwhelmed during the holiday rush.

PM Digital's October 2011 Rewind Index, which measures monthly U.S. paid-search performance for online retail clients, suggests 53% annual growth in revenue and 33% growth in clicks in October -- the largest monthly increases in both metrics all year on desktop. Average orders also saw a 7% uptick, pointing to a positive mood among online consumers. PM Digital retail clients increased total spend by an average 40%, due to a boost in clicks rather than cost per clicks (CPCs)

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The uptick matches comScore's finding for explicit core searches in October. Explicit core searches across engines rose to 18 billion in October -- up from 17 billion sequentially, according to comScore. The research firm said Google maintained the lead with 65.6% market share, or 11.86 billion explicit searches; followed by Yahoo at 2.74 billion and Microsoft at 2.68 billion.

As the holidays approach, expect to see more searches and ecommerce transactions on mobile. Tools will help drive the increase. Marchex made available earlier this week a mobile application that integrates multiple local-search capabilities into one. The Marchex Free411 mobile application, supported by the company's Digital Call Advertising platform that connects consumers to advertisers through phone calls, allows consumers to find local information using voice, free automated directory assistance, and text or mobile Web search.

But a recent report from Razorfish suggests that marketers forget mobile and think multiscreen. The company's mobile media and search business nearly doubled last year, representing close to 10% of its total paid media business. The major factors influencing this acceleration represent trends that will continue to make mobile one of the fastest-growing categories, according to the report.

The trends pushing the envelope include an increase in mobile transactions and data management, growth of tablets, and always-on phones that continue to become more sophisticated. This year, the company's ad spend is projected to grow by more than 25%. In the last five years, Razorfish went from managing on its own servers with 3 terabytes to 90 terabytes. We have only just begun to see the explosion of data.

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