Brad Stone blogged the bad news: "During the first 23 days of November, according to a report to be released later on Tuesday by the research firm comScore, consumers spent $8.19 billion online, a 4 percent drop from the same period last year. That marks the first annual decline since e-commerce took off." You can read the rest of the tragic stats in ComScore's press release.
The accompanying chart from TechFlash says it all: Online sales just aren't growing anymore. October's 1 percent growth over October 2007 is the worst performance measured by ComScore since they began tracking stats in 2001. TechFlash quotes Gian Fulgoni, chairman of the research firm: "We can only hope that the recent sharp drop in oil prices will cause a continued easing of inflation and a strengthening in consumer spending as [we] enter the critical holiday shopping season." We can only hope? Dude, we can get down on our knees and pray.
The Jesusphone is no longer just for privileged white folks. "The strongest growth in users is coming from those earning less than the median household income, particularly since the launch of the iPhone 3G." So says a report from ComScore, which concludes that "lower-income mobile subscribers are increasingly turning to their mobile devices to access the Internet, email and their music collections." Awesome. Now I can buy an iPhone 3G without feeling I'm being extravagant. But I can't shake the feeling this study was secretly paid for by RIM. (Photo by r.f.m II)
That's what the addition by subtraction equals when you compare comScore's 10.8 billion unique video streams counted in June to Nielsen's 7.5 billion — because of the two Web usage statistic compilers, Nielsen refuses to count "pornography" and "advertising" in the company's total. At first I though, "There's a difference between porn and ads?" And then I remembered: I generally like porn and I usually hate ads. No wonder it's so hard to chose between loving and hating American Apparel. [Silicon Alley Insider]
Web metrics firm ComScore says it going to begin tracking ad networks' "potential reach" and "actual reach" for online-ad buyers and sellers. A translation: Ad networks, in theory, can place ads on all of a Web publisher's pages, and those are the numbers they trot out when luring ad dollars. Operations like Glam Media compound the confusion by portraying some of the sites they represent as if they were websites they owned. In practice, publishers of a respectable size use networks only to fill a small percentage of their least valuable inventory. The net effect: industrywide, advertising inventories look much larger than they actually are, leading ad buyers to drive harder bargains. If ComScore can expose this part of the ad-network scam, publishers may benefit from higher rates. Ad buyers? They won't complain: As soon as they've spent their clients' online budgets, it's time for a two-martini lunch..
Reversing a long trend, one research firm says Yahoo and Microsoft have posted gains in search market share — at the expense of industry leader Google. ComScore reports that 61.5 percent of all U.S. searches went through Google in June 2008, 0.3 percent less than in May 2008. Yahoo saw 20.9 percent of the searches in June, up from 20.6 percent in May. Microsoft went from 8.5 percent to 9.2 percent. Does this argue for a Microsoft-Yahoo merger? Not especially, since those small, hard-won gains would likely evaporate while the combined entity fumbles for years in post-deal internal politicking.
ComScore's stock dropped 23% on Tuesday when news broke about Google's Ad Planner — because now you can get demographic info from the same shop you can buy Web ads from. However, that's exactly the reason ad agencies and marketers might be wary to take Google's information at face value. [Silicon Alley Insider]
Why is Microsoft so desperate to acquire Yahoo's search business? According to ComScore, Google's video-sharing site YouTube and Google's other subsidiaries alone attracted more search queries than all of Microsoft's properties combined in April. Comparing total searches for each company is similarly lopsided; Google controls 61 percent of the search market to Microsoft's 9.1 percent, which is a decline from 9.4 percent in March. Problem is, buying Yahoo might not help. Yahoo lost search market share last month, too, dropping from 21.3 percent to 20.4 in just one month.
Revolution Health, the company founded by former AOL Time Warner chairman Steve Case, has laid off its entire business-to-business unit, according to a tipster. In the rest of Revolution Health, there's little sign of its original mission — helping consumers lower healthcare costs. Instead, it's operating a series of vaguely health-related websites, and selling banner ads against them, a push for traffic for traffic's sake which began last year. But most recently, another source tells us, Revolution's pageview games have started to look desperate:
In February, ComScore reported underwhelming growth in clicks on Google ads in the U.S. Google shares sank below a 52-week low for the first time in the company's history. Then, yesterday, Google reported 42 percent year-over-year revenue growth, surpassing expectations. Burned, Wall Street traders reacted harshly toward ComScore, dropping the company's shares by 8.4 percent after hours. Today, ComScore wants to remind the world that it never said Google's revenues would sink and that it only measures clicks on Google ads in the U.S., not internationally But really, Google investors owe ComScore a large debt.
BrewPR's snacky flack Brooke Hammerling penned a guest column for Silicon Alley Insider, arguing that the Web video industry needs to come up with a strict viewership metric. Though she doesn't mention it in the piece, New York-based online-video startup NextNewNetworks is a Brew client. (It's disclosed, in tiny type, at the end.) We could ask why Henry Blodget is giving a self-interested company rep a soapbox, or why they couldn't fix the red eye in Hammerling's photo. But the real question is why Hammerling suddenly cares about online video analytics.
Bear Stearns analyst Bob Peck laid waste to stock portfolios everywhere on Tuesday with ComScore metrics that said Google users clicked on only as many paid links in January 2008 as they clicked on in January 2007. On the news, Google's share price dropped 8 percent. ComScore's Magid Abraham and James Lamberti are sorry. To say so, they wrote a 1,152-word post. Here's a Friday-friendly version:
SearchIgnite, which spends about $200 million each year on search advertising, says that clicks on Google ads aren't down or even flat as ComScore recently claimed. They're up 40.1 percent year-over-year. On all major search engines, paid clicks are up 45.7 percent year-over-year — up 65 percent for retailers and non-mortage-related financial services. So WTF, ComScore? The most likely answer: ComScore has surveys; SearchIgnite has invoices. (Photo by bitzcelt)
Creative Capital got ahold of the December 2007 ComScore numbers for the top social networks in the U.S. — and they are, on the whole, not good. Engagement — average minutes spent on the site per visitor — is down for MySpace and Microsoft's Live Spaces, but up for almost all the other sites. Unique visitor growth is ominously low for MySpace and, in the last three months, LinkedIn. Hit the jump to see the numbers for yourself.
Sears, the department-store operator, is inviting visitors to its website to join an online "community." In the process, visitors may be unwittingly installing spyware from ComScore which monitors all of their online behavior "including ... filling a shopping basket, completing an application form, or checking your ... personal financial or health information." Sears defends this installation process as clearly and appropriately disclosed. Computer Associates, a Harvard Business School professor, and possibly the government disagree.
Sound the alarm bells: CPM Advisors has uncovered a drastic disparity between the demographics Facebook offers advertisers and the metrics ComScore independently reports. ComScore reports that 13.6 million U.S. people ages 35 or older use Facebook. Facebook, however, puts that number at only 1.26 million. What gives?
Just when ComScore had you worried that the subprime mortgage crisis would slow down e-commerce, they come back today with good news. According to the she-loves-me-she-loves-me-not online-metrics firm, this holiday season's first 18 days saw more than $7 billion in spending, a 17-percent gain versus the corresponding days last year. Here's the chart.