America, the Land of Cyber-selling

About 1 in 6 internet-using adults in the U.S. have sold something online, reported the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

The move to online transactions has enormous implications for one of the major revenue streams for newspapers: classified ads. This also indicates how timely is Google’s move into classified ads, with its Google Base initiative.

Data from comScore Media Metrix show that the number of Americans using online classifieds has shot up 80% in the past year, led by the rapid growth of the sites organized by Craigslist.org.

The Pew Internet Project found that:

  • 30% of those with broadband internet access at home and work have sold something online
  • 26% of Gen-Xers (29-40) have sold something online;
  • 17% of Gen Y (18-28) have done so, as have 13% of internet users over 40
  • 20% of online men and 14% of online women have sold something online
  • 32 million American adults have used online classified ads for selling or buying
  • 35 million American adults have ever participated in an online auction

The top five classified sites recorded by comScore Media Metrix in October 2005 were:

  • Craigslist.org 8,236,000 unique visitors
  • Trader Publishing Company 7,468,000 unique visitors
  • Cars.com 4,298,000 unique visitors
  • Apartments.com 1,555,000 unique visitors
  • Abracat Property 924,000 unique visitors

Timeline of Google’s Acquisitions

CoolTechZone published a timeline of Google’s acquisitions. In retrospect, it is interesting to see what were those acquisitions used for and how their employees and cultures mashed with Google’s ones. As David Vise claims in “The Google Story” and a recent article “Googling for Gold” in BusinessWeek explains, Google’s approach to acquisitions has been to seek for technology start-ups which have a product, technology or idea that can easily be incorporated into the rest of Google’s galaxy of products and naturally expand it, and not an overhyped marketing-driven corporation. See for yourself the Google acquisition and investment story so far:

Date

Company Name

Field

Related Google Service

2005 Jul

Android Inc.

Mobile Devices Software Provider

Possible use for Google Talk or Google Phone

2005 Jul

Current Communications

Internet Communications

Possible use for Google Wi-Fi

2005 May

Dodgeball

Mobile based social networking

Integrate with Google Maps/Earth/Ride Finder

2005 May

Urchin Software

Web Analytics

Google Analytics

2004 Dec

ZipDash

Mobile GPS/Traffic Updates

Google Ride Finder

2004 Oct

Keyhole

Maps

Google Maps, Google Earth

2004 Oct

Picasa

Image Management

Picasa/Blogger

2004 Apr

Ignite Logic

Setting up Websites for Law Firms

Possible use for Searching Laws/Lawsuits

2003 Oct

Genius Labs

Blogging

Blogger.com

2003 Oct

Sprinks

Advertising

AdSense and AdWord

2003 Sep

Kaltix

Personalized Internet Search

Google Personal

2003 Apr

Applied Symantics

Online Advertising

AdSense, AdWatch

2003 Apr

Neotonic Software

E-Mail Customer Support

E-mail Discussion Groups, Gmail, CRM

2003 Feb

Pyra Labs

Blogging

Blogger.com

2001 Sep

Outride, Inc.

Personalized Internet Search

Personalizing Internet Search

2001 Feb

Deja’s Usenet Discussion Service

Usenet Search

Google Groups

Click here to call Google

Google posted on their help FAQ pages hints for a new service to be called “click-to-call”. “We’re testing a new product that gives you a free and fast way to speak directly to the advertiser you found on a Google search results page – over the phone.”

As the Financial Times commended, Click-to-Call “appears to be aimed at the many small businesses that cannot use Google’s existing online advertising service because they have no web presence of their own”. This will go in direct competition to the Pay Per Call service provided by Ingenio which are rumored to be courted by Yahoo. According to the Kelsey Group, which has vested interest in the growth of local search, linking web users to advertisers by means of a voice call, though still in its infancy, could become a market worth between $1.4bn and $4bn by 2009. Other possible competing services would the the one offered by eBay after their Skype purchase and AOL’s own version, to be linked through its AIM service.

The FT article goes further to quote the CMO of Ingenio in his comment that the Pey per Call approach warrants higher advertising fees because the service gives better chances for turning the call into a sale. According to Ingenio, the average price paid for a call by the 5,000 advertisers on their network is $9-$10.

Search Engine Use: New Data from the Pew Internet Project

Search engines have become an increasingly important part of the online experience of American internet users. The most recent findings from Pew Internet & American Life tracking surveys and consumer behavior trends from the comScore Media Metrix consumer panel show that about 60 million American adults are using search engines on a typical day.

These results from September 2005 represent a sharp increase from mid-2004. Pew Internet Project data from June 2004 show that use of search engines on a typical day has risen from 30% to 41% of the internet-using population, which itself has grown in the past year. This
means that the number of those using search engines on an average day jumped from roughly 38 million in June 2004 to about 59 million in September 2005 – an increase of about 55%. comScore data, which are derived from a different methodology, show that from September 2004 to September 2005 the average daily use of search engines jumped from 49.3
million users to 60.7 million users – an increase of 23%.

This means that the use of search engines is edging up on email as a primary internet activity on any given day. The Pew Internet Project data show that on a typical day, email use is still the top internet activity. On any given day, about 52% of American internet users are sending and receiving email, up from 45% in June of 2004.

Best Day To Send Emails

Online marketing expert eROI, Inc., today announced the results of their Q3 2005 study on email deliverability and efficiencies. The eROI, Q3’05 study not only highlights the best day to send email, but also includes data about list size and management that can help marketers determine campaign effectiveness. Key findings of the Study show that read and click rates are the lowest during the middle of the week and the highest rates occur on Sunday and Friday, 30.8% / 7.2% and 27.0% / 5.3%, respectively.

“We are seeing this change in behavior because as we close in on the holidays, consumers are beginning to think more of how they are going to spend their money this holiday season,” said Ryan Buchanan, eROI President. “While we anticipate these stats to even out more as we come closer to December and through the new-year, this behavior shows marketers are getting an early start to secure consumer awareness.”

“This quarter, eROI takes a different look at day of the week stats. When looking at aggregate stats we see less dramatic changes in read and click statistics and they are not always applicable to large and small senders, added Jeff Mills, eROI Email Analyst and former Gartner researcher. We decided to take a look at day of the week statistics by list size which can be beneficial in determining campaign value.”

eROI eMail Study — List Size and Management Key Findings In terms of list size, findings indicate that for large distribution Monday through Wednesday are still the best days — posting a 32% increase in reads and just over twice as many clicks compared to the remaining days of the week. Small distribution start to see dramatic fluctuations in behavior and week day mailings become the prominent days emails are sent compared to smaller senders. This reaffirms eROI’s earlier research — that sending volume is inversely related to how reads and clicks are going to react with the one exception — Saturday.

Further, eROI found many expected themes with increasing list size — reads and clicks decline and bounce rate increases. The reasons for this are simply that of list management — larger lists require more maintenance and make individual accuracy more difficult and smaller lists are easily managed by marketing managers and business owners. Additional data includes:

— Micro-Mailers, those less than 5,000 recipients tend to perform
similarly – read rates in excess of 35% and click rates between 5 and 9
percent (with the weekend capturing the 8% to 9% and Tuesday through
Thursday at 5% to 6%) compared to averages across all senders of 27% and
4.4%. These Micro Mailers tend to be more intimate businesses and lower
volume/higher value based business models. Those which do not have large
prospect lists, but spends more time on creative, marketing plan, and
dollar per prospect.

— Small senders, those between 5,000 and 24,999 senders start to see
more dramatic fluctuations in behavior and week day mailings become more
prominent times email are sent compared to smaller senders. Average read
rates and click rates for this segment are 27.8% and 4.7%, respectively.
Again, Friday posts the best results at 31.2% read rate and 5.3% click
rate.

— Mid-size senders 25,000-99,999 notice wide swings in read and click
behavior with Monday and Friday being the most productive days for those
mailers both registering the highest percentage of reads on those two days
and clicks following suit (24.4%/3.85 and 26.4%/7.6%, respectively). On
Friday, reads register a 60 percent increase over the average (17.4% and
3.2%) for the week for those list sizes and clicks post a staggering 169
percent premium over the average for list sizes between 25,000 and 49,999
recipients.

— Large senders Monday through Wednesday are still king with the highest
percentage of reads and clicks taking place on those days. Monday through
Wednesday post a 32 percent increase in reads and just over twice as many
clicks compared to the remaining days of the week. The one anomaly is that
list sizes of over 200,000 recipients see a large spike in read rates on
Saturdays, this is due to the fact that most of these lists are B2C and
target consumers when they are likely to make shopping decisions. List
averages for reads and clicks for large-volume senders are 9.8% and 1.1%.
This large drop is caused by a lack of reliable and on-going maintenance
among large lists.

Google among the most respected global companies for 2005

Today’s Financial Times published the 2005 list of the world’s most respected companies. The leader for the first time is Microsoft, an indication that “the new economy has finally triumphed over the old”. Google ranked number 39, appearing for the first time among the top 50 respected list compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers and published by the Financial Times (last year Google was 58th). The list is composed after survey some 1000 global business executives along with media analysts, fund managers and non-profit organizations.

Among the other high tech companies Apple Computer ranks number 9 (up from position 42 in 2004) boosted by its iPod, Intel at 31 (up from 38th in 2004), and Cisco Systems reached number 30 (up from position 61 in 2004), the networking equipment company. No other internet pure-play made it to the top 50.

In addition, Google is number 9 among the most innovative companies as ranked by fund managers, up from 14th place in 2004. eBay was ranked number 7 for innovation but is not listed in the general ranking of the most respected companies. Similarly, Amazon.com is ranked 12th for customer service but is not listed among the most respected companies. Yahoo is not mentioned in any of the lists.

Welcoming Google Analytics

Based on its acquisition of Urchin, Google launched a new service offering called simply Google Analytics which will address the basic web analytics needs for the majority of small business and in particular those who depend on Google AdWords for generating qualified traffic. The value of web analytics is in bringing measurement to the field of web marketing — what is not measured is not managed. The value of a “Sophisticated, yet easy to use and free” web analytics solution is in bringing the power of web analytics to the majority of web sites. The fact that Google’s own infrastructure had gliches along the launch is only a proof of the success of Google’s Web 2.0 approach of offering open, whenever possible as free, applications distributed as a web service.

These are exciting times for website publishers, small business owners, and web marketers. These are also relatively bad news for the existing vendors in the crowded web analytics market place. I would not be surprised if Google Analytics soon overcomes as the most downloaded web analytics solution overcoming the claims of WebTrends (for paid software and services) and Analog (for free but very rudimentary web analytics) as the most popular web analysis platforms. Interestingly, the design of http://www.google.com/analytics/ sports a bright orange banner surprisingly similar to the one of WebTrends.

I will be offering my own detailed report comparing Google Analytics to other web analytics solutions in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

Reintroducing the new WebSage blog

First of all, let me reintroduce myself, Mitko Gerensky-Greene, and my new WebSage Blog by claiming that I will try to update news and analysis from the world of web management, web analytics, and web marketing as often as possible. What will keep me away from the blog is: