Cyber Monday Boosted By Social – and Mobile – Media

Image: winnond / FreeDigitalPhotos.net (http://bit.ly/FDP_winnond)

So far this month, online sales have increased by 15 percent over November 2010, and no doubt retailers are hoping the trend continues on Cyber Monday. Last year, for the first time Cyber Monday was the busiest online shopping day of the year. More and more people are turning to the Web to find holiday gifts, and turning to technology to help them find the best deals.

Former Executive Director of Shop.org, Scott Silverman, shared on TechCrunch he sees a correlation between the growth of social media, particularly Facebook, and the importance of Cyber Monday. Not only do social networks allow for consumers to share great finds, but for retailers to reach their customers where they are. The 25 U.S. retailers with the most Facebook fans, have a combined 259 million fans. According to Shop.org, “29 percent of consumers will check out a retailer’s Facebook page as part of their online holiday shopping this year.”

In addition to Facebook, the growing blogging community is a huge resource for consumers. Many blogs sharing deals, not just for Cyber Monday but year-round, are run – and read – by arguably a top targeted demographic for retailers – moms. Many Mom and Savings blogs have a dedicated following that checks the sites frequently to help save their families money. Plentiful by the hundreds, if not thousands, popular savings blogs like the following use Facebook, Twitter and e-newsletters to spread the word: Common Sense with Money, Coupon Cravings, Deal Seeking Mom, Hip2Save, Money Saving Mom Southern Savers and The Thrifty Mama (just to name a few). Some have even developed smartphone apps to help their readers locate deals, including Saving Cents with Sense.

There are numerous other mobile and tablet apps to help people find Cyber Monday deals, as Mint.com shares in its Life blog. Among others, there’s RedLaser, owned by eBay, which “has seen scans go up 50 percent over the past year,” according to SeekingAlpha. Another, ShopKick, rewards consumers just for visiting a store, trying on clothes and scanning barcodes. Apps like DealNews and CheapDeals101 bring sales to the consumer by aggregating them for one-tap shopping.

Whether surfing the Web for the best deals Cyber Monday, or shopping online any other time, make sure to keep it safe by following taking necessary precautions to keep your purchases protected.

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Internet Advertising – Are You Being Followed?

Recently, I found out via Facebook that one of my friends was engaged. Her ring was beautiful, and she shared that the ring was “conflict free and eco-friendly.” I was fascinated with this concept so I “Googled” the company her ring was purchased from – Brilliant Earth. I read all about its mining process and how it certifies its jewelry as conflict free. While I was fascinated by this process, I became even more fascinated with what happened next. I started noticing Brilliant Earth ads were following me from website to website, often featuring the rings I had looked at while visiting their site. It didn’t matter if I was on MSNBC, ESPN or checking my Yahoo mail. There were Brilliant Earth ads everywhere I looked.

I did some research and discovered that Brilliant Earth was tracking me. It had collected data from my computer while I was on their website about my browsing habits, and if I had made a purchase from them converting to my shopping habits. This is a process called Ad Tracking.

Brilliant Earth is not the only company participating in ad tracking. I have been followed by shoes from Zappos and countless other advertisements from websites I have visited.

The Federal Trade Commission recently proposed “Do Not Track” for internet advertising. This would allow people to choose whether they want internet companies to collect information on their browsing habits, as well as information for other marketing purposes. As a consumer, it feels very big brother to see a pair of shoes I looked at two days ago staring at me while I read today’s headlines. I am truly torn about internet advertisers tracking my shopping and browsing habits. As an advertising professional, I think Ad Tracking is a wonderful thing. The advertiser can learn so much about the shopper, their habits and help them find products that fit their needs.

Internet Advertising is one of the fastest growing advertising opportunities today and technology is changing rapidly. I will be curious to see if ad tracking is something that stays or goes as time moves on. For now, I am heading to Zappos so that cute pair of Cole Haan shoes can follow me around for a few weeks.

To learn more about the FTC’s proposal please visit Ad Age.