Archive for December, 2010

Cyber Monday Sets New Record

ComScore announced that 2010’s Cyber Monday grew 16% from a year ago, tallying record-breaking online sales of over $1 billion.

While Black Friday is still the shopping event of the bricks-and-mortar world, Cyber Monday — the first Monday after Thanksgiving — has increasingly become a major event for online retailers, who prime the pump with major promotions, sales, email campaigns and advertising blitzes.

“Cyber Monday was a historic day for e-commerce as we saw daily spending surpass $1 billion for the first time,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “The online holiday shopping season has clearly gotten off to a very strong start, which is welcome news. At the same time, it’s important to note that some of the early strength in consumer spending is almost certainly the result of retailers’ heavier-than-normal promotional and discounting activity at this early point in the season. So, while we anticipate that there will be more billion-dollar spending days ahead as we get deeper into the season, only time will tell if overall consumer online spending remains at the elevated levels we’ve seen thus far.”

Of the total 16% gain, comScore attributed most of the lift — 12% — to an increase in average order size. The remaining 4% sales growth was due to an increase in total online shoppers. Source: comScore

2010 Holiday Season To Date vs. Corresponding Days* in 2009
Non-Travel (Retail) Spending
Excludes Auctions and Large Corporate Purchases
Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations
Source: comScore, Inc.

Millions ($)
2009 2010 Percent Change
November 1 – 29 $12,008 $13,553 13%
Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 25) $318 $407 28%
Black Friday (Nov. 26) $595 $648 9%
Weekend (Nov. 27-28) $805 $886 10%
Cyber Monday (Nov. 29) $887 $1,028 16%

Google Changes Algorithm in Response to NYT Story

A long and sensational New York Times Story last Friday detailed an ecommerce customer-service nightmare with a bizarre twist: An assertion by the unrepentant merchant, that far from being a problem, poor customer service and online negative reviews actually benefited his business, thanks to Google’s Page Rank algorithm.

The business, a discount eyewear joint called DecorMyEyes, allegedly refused to credit customers for returned merchandise and even threatened them when their disputes were lodged with their credit card companies.

When several aggrieved customers voiced their complaints on online forums like Get Satisfaction and, their negative reviews (linked to decorMyEyes) only served to boost his Google rankings, according to the merchant, a Brooklyn, New York man named Vitaly Borker.

“I’ve exploited this opportunity because it works,” Borker told the Times. “No matter where they post their negative comments, it helps my return on investment. So I decided, why not use that negativity to my advantage?”

The central question posed by the story: Can being a BAD business actually be GOOD for your Google rankings?

Is Google unable to discern, in a link from one site to another, whether it represents a positive “vote” for the target — or an outraged “pan” against it?

Google was quick to jump in direct response to the news story, announcing yesterday it had tweaked its algorithm to weed out “hundreds” of merchants who Google deemed to be bad actors.

Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land, who was quoted in the article, offers his own in-depth look at the SEO ramifications of the story. Sullivan notes in a postscript that most of the reviews sites cited actually “nofollow” their links, so couldn’t actually convey the kind of link juice Borker was claiming. Sullivan also touches on the fast-moving integration into SERPS of online ratings and reviews, and other possible signals Google and other search engines could use to better discriminate positive buzz from negative.

Google’s use of “rich snippets” is an exciting development for the 99.9% of ecommerce vendors out there (and 100% of the readers of this blog, of course), who run honest businesses with stellar reputations, and have lots of enticing five-star ratings to share.