Editor's Note: A Chill in the Air
Summer's long gone. Autumn's here, and with it comes all the season's wonders: falling leaves, apple-picking, a new school year. But regardless of the season, there's no escaping the fact that the chilly state of the economy and a less-than-stellar economic outlook may have a negative effect on the all-important fall and holiday shopping seasons.
The depressing news is even spreading to the historically unflappable online advertising market, as studies show that online ad spending is on a downward spiral. In August, e-marketing research firm eMarketer, for example, revised its Internet ad spend projections, estimating that advertisers will spend $24.9 billion online this year in the U.S. That's $1 billion lower than the estimate eMarketer put out in March.
There is a bright spot, however: The lowered estimate still represents a 17.4 percent increase over 2007 ad spending.
In announcing his firm's forecast, eMarketer Senior Analyst David Hallerman said Internet ad spending will keep growing "rapidly" even though consumers' "changing media habits" and the tumbling economy will continue to take ad dollars away from such traditional media as newspapers and TV.
Another bright spot: Online consumer spending is growing.
U.S. Census Bureau stats for the second quarter of 2008 showed that retail e-commerce sales reached $34.6 billion, up 2.9 percent from the first quarter.
But, with gas prices still sky-high and the holiday shopping season approaching, you can be sure that e-tailers will be turning to low, flat-rate shipping and free-shipping promotions to convert price-sensitive shoppers - and to keep them coming back for more.
If you are one of them, be sure to check out Linda Bustos' feature called "Get Your Site Into Shipping Shape This Season". The article spells out how to control shipping costs. It also offers a variety of tips about free shipping.
Web site monitoring
Besides free shipping, another way to get consumers coming back to your site for more this holiday season is to continually monitor your site activity using Web analytics software. And this issue's cover story discusses how Web analytics helped StubHub, the San Francisco-based online ticket marketplace, make $5.4 million in additional revenue.
Following StubHub's lead certainly can help you improve your Web site - in both a booming economy or one that is a bust.
Let's hope that, ultimately, it's the former, not the latter.