In the week leading into Christmas, the online marketing community was abuzz with reports of holiday ecommerce. Plus, internet marketers were chattering about new mobile developments and search and social expectations for 2011. Here's Brafton's take on the top internet marketing news for the week of December 23.
The week started with a holiday gift for marketers, as Matt Cutts released new Webmaster Central videos. Cutts tackled everything from whether Google uses social data as a ranking signal (it does), to search trends on his radar (in which he mentioned safe search features). The videos were good news for marketers looking to gain some insight on how their sites and ads could better perform in Google.
The search giant also made headlines this week for testing a "top reference" feature. As Brafton reported, the search filter seems to encourage users to look at results for similar search terms. It makes clear that Google is expanding its search options.
The company seems to be facing backlash for some of its expansion – though that isn't slowing it down. In a widely circulated article, the New York Times subtly questions Google's ITA acquisition. At the same time, the New York Post wrote a piece about how Google is now courting Groupon competitors. In spite of the company's failure to acquire Groupon, it seems determined to get into the social shopping market.
Speaking of social shopping, Facebook made headlines this week as it tries to expand its ecommerce options. As Brafton reported, the company is working to develop partnerships that will enable it to offer shopping outlets on the social site.
In the meantime, ecommerce sites across the web are increasingly inviting users to log into Facebook in order to promote social buying. As the Wall Street Journal reports, retailers are increasingly tapping into Facebook to help consumers make purchases for their friends this holiday season.
With or without Facebook, ecommerce is certainly on the rise this winter. A number of reports hit the web this week indicating that online shopping is holding strong as we move closer to the end of the holiday season. ComScore data, covered by Brafton, found that Free Shipping Day sales exceeded $900 million last Friday. Online buying then continued through the weekend, with sales reaching $900 million. This puts online holiday shopping at $28 billion total to-date.
With the success of online holiday campaigns, many marketers are now especially interested in the implications of the FCC's net neutrality rules, passed this Tuesday. The Wall Street Journal covered the ruling, which broadly stipulates the need for transparency, no blocking and no unreasonable discrimination on the web. While the meaning of the rules in practice is somewhat unclear, marketers still seem to be moving ambitiously forward with plans to campaign online next year. In fact, as Brafton reported, online advertising spend will exceed newspaper dollars next year.
Perhaps marketers will be putting these increased web budgets into video campaigns. This seems to be what YouTube hopes for – as Brafton reported, Google's video platform gave away $500,000 today to encourage partners to develop video content of higher quality.
Marketers might also be looking to spend more on the mobile platform. The investment could pay off, as Brafton reported on a survey released this week revealing that three in 10 smartphone-owning consumers use their mobile devices while they shop. Plus, a widely circulated report reveals that mobile content can be particularly influential for on-the-go consumers.
A new development that may help brands create meaningful mobile ad content is the new iAd Producer released by Apple this week. This tool makes Apple's mobile platform accessible to a broader range of advertisers. Nonetheless, mobile marketers might want to target Windows Phone 7 users with their campaigns, as an internal Microsoft interview revealed impressive initial sales for the phone.
It was a good week for Microsoft. The company also generated buzz for its inbound links feature for Bing's webmaster tools.
Still, the search winner of the week might be Yahoo. Following last week's reported layoffs and plans to cut Yahoo Buzz, the company saw some success this week when comScore announced Yahoo sites were the top web properties for November 2010. This puts the company on slightly steadier ground as 2010 comes to a close.
With the new year around the corner, there were also ample reports this week on predictions for 2011. For instance, Search Engine Land's search expectations widely circulated the web, as did the company's social marketing predictions.
On the subject of social media, foursquare also made the news this week. As Brafton reported, the geosocial company launched some updates that might help put brands on the social, location-based map.
Looking ahead to next week, marketers might anticipate more end-of-the-year retrospectives and marketing predictions for 2011. Also, we can expect more news on the aftermath of this week's FCC decision, Stay tuned!