Thanksgiving Shopping and Eating Guide

23 Nov

Everyone’s minds are on focused on Thanksgiving this week. Whether you are sweating having a big Black Friday, sweating from your Black Friday /Grey Thursday shopping excursions or just sweating from  massive gravy and turkey consumption (4500 calories for a typical T-Day meal) this week should be an interesting one.

 Black Friday Shopping

If shopping is your bête noire or if it’s more of a traditional post tryptophanic exercise, you’ll want to know who is open and when, so you can plan accordingly.

Best Buy: Opens 5 PM Thanksgiving Day; closed from 1 AM to 8 AM on Friday morning, reopens at 10 PM.

Costco: Closed Thanksgiving Day. Opens 9 AM to 8:30 PM Friday.

GameStop: Closed Thanksgiving Day. Opens 5 AM Friday.

Kmart: Opens 6 AM, closes 10pm Thanksgiving Day.

Kohl’s: Opens 6 PM Thanksgiving Day, closes midnight reopening Friday 8 AM to midnight.

Lowe’s: Closed Thanksgiving Day. Opens 5 AM on Friday.

Macy’s: Opens 6 PM on Thanksgiving Day open through the night until closing10 PM on Friday.

Sears: Opens at 6 PM on Thanksgiving Day, closes at midnight. Reopens 6 AM to 9 PM on Friday.

Staples: Closed Thanksgiving Day. Opens 6 AM Friday.

Target: Opening at 6 PM on Thanksgiving Day, and will stay open overnight until 11 PM or midnight on Friday.

Toys/Babies ‘R’ Us: Opens at 5 PM on Thanksgiving Day; stores will keep their doors open until 11 PM on Friday.

Walmart: Most stores will already be open, but their official Black Friday event starts at 6 PM on Thanksgiving Day.


Thanksgiving Dinner Costs

The American Farm Bureau Federation announced that for the first time, the cost of the average Thanksgiving meal, will top $50.

The average cost of this year’s feast, composed of 12 typical items, is up slightly from last year, from $49.41 to $50.11.

While avian flu and pumpkin shortages won’t have a huge effect on prices this year, and frozen orange juice concentrate futures  remain unaffected as well, turkey prices are up 6.4%.

A 16-pound turkey will go from $23.04 to $21.65, while sides like sweet potatoes, rolls, stuffing and pumpkin-pie mix/shells are up by about $0.01 to $0.08, according to a survey by 138 volunteer shoppers in 32 states.

Price reductions include a gallon of whole milk ($0.14 cents less), fresh cranberries, green peas, miscellaneous ingredients and a relish tray will cost you less as well (from $0.03 to $0.30 less).

“Retail prices seem to have stabilized quite a bit for turkey, which is the centerpiece of the meal in our market basket,” John Anderson, the farm group’s deputy chief economist, said in a statement. “Despite concerns earlier this fall about pumpkin production due to wet weather, the supply of canned product will be adequate for this holiday season.”


Happy Thanksgiving to all.Thanksgiving-Clip-Art


Google to Power Yahoo! Search Results….again

21 Oct

When you’ve been in this space long enough, you get a chance to see history repeating itself so when Yahoo announced a search deal for Google to power Yahoo search results, there was a strong element of deja vu involved.  Back in 2000 nearly the same deal was announced.

But here in the present, Google will provide web search results, search ads and image search services for an unspecified number of Yahoo user queries, on desktop and mobile platforms.

According to the regulatory filing, the non-exclusive deal, renegotiated nearly 6 years earlier between Yahoo and Microsoft, allows Yahoo to continue work with multiple partners.

Here’s an excerpt from the filing describing Yahoo’s agreement with Google.

“On October 19, 2015, Yahoo! Inc., a Delaware corporation (“Yahoo”), and Google Inc., a Delaware corporation (“Google”), entered into a Google Services Agreement (the “Services Agreement”). The Services Agreement is effective as of October 1, 2015 and expires on December 31, 2018. Pursuant to the Services Agreement, Google will provide Yahoo with search advertisements through Google’s AdSense for Search service (“AFS”), web algorithmic search services through Google’s Websearch Service, and image search services. The results provided by Google for these services will be available to Yahoo for display on both desktop and mobile platforms. Yahoo may use Google’s services on Yahoo’s owned and operated properties (“Yahoo Properties”) and on certain syndication partner properties (“Affiliate Sites”) in the United States (U.S.), Canada, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Middle East, Africa, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Venezuela, Peru, Australia and New Zealand.

Under the Services Agreement, Yahoo has discretion to select which search queries to send to Google and is not obligated to send any minimum number of search queries. The Services Agreement is non-exclusive and expressly permits Yahoo to use any other search advertising services, including its own service, the services of Microsoft Corporation or other third parties.”
The regulatory filing notes that Yahoo and Google “have agreed to certain procedures with the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice” to review the agreement, “including delaying the implementation of the Services Agreement in the U.S. in order to provide the DOJ with a reasonable period of review.” Antitrust problems derailed an earlier deal reached by Google and Yahoo back in 2008.

The EU and India may also voice potential regulatory concerns as well.

Google dominates the U.S. search market, with nearly 63 percent of the search market, compared to 21 percent for Microsoft and 12 percent for Yahoo. Yahoo’s market share has slipped regularly since signing the original deal with Microsoft.

The Push Back Against Gray Thursday

2 Oct

It’s not exactly news that retailers have been pushing Black Friday earlier and earlier until well, it’s Thursday. One retailer, Staples, after having opened on Gray Thursday for the last few years, has decided to close up and let its workers spend the holiday at home. Bravo for them!

In a press release,the chain announced that the deals will only be online, and that stores will stay closed…On Thanksgiving Day, customers can shop from home on and then continue their shopping in stores starting at 6 a.m. on Black Friday,” the company’s president of North American stores and online shopping, Demos Parneros, said in a statement.

Companies that choose to stay closed on the holiday should be applauded. I hope that those who choose to be good communitity citizens harvest online goodwill and good publicity, to offset any loss in sales.
Some reports show Black Friday weekend sales are actually falling, so maybe other retailers will take the high road as well.

Amazon Flex -es It’s Delivery Muscles

29 Sep

Amazon officially launched its new Amazon Flex package delivery option yesterday, using everyday drivers to deliver packages in their own cars Uber-style.

The company advertises drivers can make $18 to $25 per hour provided you are  at least 21-years-old, have a car, driver’s license, a clean background check and an Android phone. Amazon’s driver recruiting website opines that these jobs offer advantages that traditional employees don’t enjoy i.e. schedule flexibility.

Amazon Flex launched in Seattle on Tuesday and is now recruiting drivers to handle Prime Now’s 1 & 2 hour deliveries. Flex will be offered in eight other cities, including NYC.

Amazon tells the Wall Street Journal it will continue to use its previously contracted courier companies  for  same-day deliveries, but it will now also have the ability to route some orders through Flex.

“There is a tremendous population of people who want to work in an on-demand fashion,” Clark told the WSJ. “This is another opportunity for people to work with the company.”amazon flex

Google: If you have those annoying full screen app install ads, your site isn’t mobile friendly

2 Sep

Google has added an additional requirement for websites that want to rise higher in the SERPS. Tuesday, Google announced that as of Nov. 1, sites that use those obnoxious app install overlays will no longer be considered mobile-friendly.

This comes in addition to the April announcement when Google’s algorithm started favoring sites that opened quickly and easily on mobile devices .

“…sometimes a user may tap on a search result on a mobile device and see an app install interstitial that hides a significant amount of content and prompts the user to install an app,” a post on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog reads. “Our analysis shows that it is not a good search experience and can be frustrating for users because they are expecting to see the content of the web page.”

This doesn’t affect other kinds of interstitials, the post explains. Instead of app install interstitials, there are other ways to promote apps that don’t get in the way of what people are searching for, Google notes: Both Safari and Chrome support app install banners, which simply pop up at the top of a page and still allow users to view the page without having to take any additional actions.

This announcement comes on the heels of Google’s July encouragement  for sites to be more mobile friendly by alerting mobile searchers when  sites use Flash.

108 Days Until Black Friday: Everybody Waits for a 100 day countdown. Are you everybody? — Black Friday 2015 Marketing Tips

11 Aug

No need to panic but Black Friday is right around the corner. And as the good little marketers, executives and decision makers that I know you are, I know you’ve put a ton of energy and effort into your holiday planning and you are probably feeling pretty good about it. You have some promotions and special offers that are sure to excite, your social strategy is primed and ready to start conversations with the faithful, and IT is ready to handle the crush.

Time to feel good?  Of course not, there is more to do! Let’s talk numbers:

Highlights from Black Friday 2014:

2014 Black Friday online sales were up 9.5% over 2013, peaking at 8:55 a.m. PST.

>>> Pump those special offers via social media to less peak times to maximize revenue throughout the day and minimize website performance issues.


  • Historic Mobile Milestone Spurs Online Shopping: Thanksgiving Day mobile traffic accounted for 52.1 percent of all online traffic – the first time mobile devices have outpaced their PC counterparts for online browsing. Black Friday mobile traffic reached 49.6 percent of all online traffic, an increase of 25 percent over last year. Black Friday mobile sales accounted for 27.9 percent of total online sales, up 28.2 percent over 2013.

>>> If your website isn’t mobile friendly, shame on you. Mobile is the wave of the future (and if you attend any conferences, it has been for the last ten years…sorry omni-channel you are so-ooo 2000). But with Google promising to penalize websites that aren’t mobile friendly and using it as a ranking factor in search, there really isn’t any excuse.



  • Thanksgiving Eats Into Black Friday Sales: Thanksgiving Day online sales increased 14.3 percent over 2013, with Black Friday up 9.5 percent year-over-year. Average order value on Thanksgiving was $125.25, down 1.8 percent over 2013; Black Friday was $129.37, down 4.4 percent. This trend may indicate that shoppers are becoming more comfortable and digitally savvy in how they use online coupons and rebates to secure the best bargains. Black Friday online sales were 63.5 percent higher than Thanksgiving Day. This is a decrease from 2013, however, when it was 70 percent higher as Thanksgiving online sales continue to eat into Black Friday shopping.

>>>After turkey, people sit down on the couch and plan out their Black Friday shopping. And then they start shopping when they realize they really don’t want to line up at 4am to get a $5 toaster. So plan on reaching out a little bit earlier this year and consider having a separate strategy for turkey day itself.

  • Top Five U.S. Cities for Online Shopping: New York City claimed the top spot for Black Friday online shopping followed by Washington, D.C.; Atlanta, GA; Los Angeles, CA; and Chicago, IL. New York City shoppers spent on average $121.91 per order on Black Friday.

>>> Do you have geo targeted PPC, social and SEO in place?  Consumers are looking for product, model #, features etc…and looking to get it locally. Think about combining structured data coded onto your site with price, reviews, location, etc to stay visible during the holiday season.


  • Smartphones Browse, Tablets Buy:As the new digital shopping companion for many consumers, smartphones drove 34.7 percent of all Black Friday online traffic, more than double that of tablets, which accounted for 14.6 percent of all traffic. Yet, when it comes to mobile sales, tablets continue to win the shopping war – driving 16 percent of online sales compared to 11.8 percent for smartphones, a difference of 35.5 percent. Tablet users also averaged $126.50 per order compared to $107.55 for smartphone users, a difference of 17.6 percent.
  • iOS vs. Android:iOS once again led the way in mobile shopping this holiday season, outpacing Android across three key metrics on Black Friday:
    • Average Order Value:iOS users averaged $121.86 per order compared to $98.07 for Android users, a difference 24.3 percent.
    • Online Traffic:iOS traffic accounted for 34.2 percent of total online traffic, more than double that of Android, which drove 15 percent of all online traffic.
    • Online Sales:iOS sales accounted for 21.9 percent of total online sales, nearly quadruple that of Android, which drove 5.8 percent of all online sales.

>>> Your website should be optimized for the device being used by your visitors. Responsive or adaptive design (your choice, don’t get me in that mess) means better user experience and better conversions. Don’t let those visitors bounce!


  • The Desktop is Not Dead: When consumers did choose to use their PC or desktop, they spent more with an average order value of $135.33 compared to $116.02 for mobile shoppers, a difference of 16.6 percent.

>>> When the real big dollar items need to be purchased, and multiple sites need to be reviewed and compared, the desktop wins.  If you are selling big ticket items, or products that are routinely reviewed, neglect the desktop user at your peril!


  • Social Influence – Facebook vs. Pinterest:As marketers continue to rely on social channels to drive brand loyalty and sales, IBM analyzed trends across two leading sites on Black Friday – Facebook and Pinterest. Facebook referrals drove an average of $109.94 per order compared to $100.24 for Pinterest, a difference of nearly 10 percent. Facebook referrals converted online sales at more than twice the rate of Pinterest

>>>Loyal customers also serve as brand advocates, engaging with your brand online and speaking well of it offline. These customers drive 33% more sales and 18% more traffic than regular customers so engage them regularly with quality content tailored to them.

  • Less Frequent, More Targeted Email Promos*:Retailers sent an average of 5.3 emails on Black Friday 2014, decreasing more than 11 percent over the same period in 2013, as retail marketers continue to send more targeted — and less frequent — messages to shoppers. Open and click-through rates – when someone opens an email and clicks at least one link – were 12.9 percent and 2.4 percent, on Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day, compared to 15.4 percent and 2.8 percent respectively, last year.

>>>For the love of all that is decent and good, stop cramming emails down your customers’ throats. One great email tailored to one customer/segment is far more productive than mass emailings indiscriminately spraying the intertubes with your product juice.

Perform some analysis on your customers. Think about the ones who have spent the most or bought most frequently, or simply those who have been long-time supporters of your company. Send them a targeted, segmented email explaining that they are VIPs to your company and that you are doing something special just for them.


The four hottest retail categories this past holiday season:

  1. Department Stores: Black Friday online sales grew by 22.9 percent over 2013, with mobile percentage of sales increasing by 25.7 percent. Average order value was $143.16, a decrease of 2.5 percent year-over-year.
  2. Health and Beauty: Black Friday online sales grew by 56.9 percent over 2013, with mobile percentage of sales increasing by 31.8 percent. Average order value was $72.78, an increase of 9.8 percent year-over-year.
  3. Home Goods: Black Friday online sales grew by 43.2 percent over 2013, with mobile percentage of sales increasing by 3.8 percent. Average order value was $238.46, an increase of 6.8 percent year-over-year.
  4. Apparel: Black Friday online sales grew by 22.6 percent over 2013, with mobile percentage of sales increasing by 25.2 percent. Average order value was $114.96, a decrease of 6.8 percent year-over-year.

>>> My prediction for this holiday’s hottest categories? Pet rocks and tea cozies!black-friday

Adobe Study Finds 198 million adblocking users, growing 47% YOY; Advertising to lose $21bn in 2015

10 Aug


An Adobe/Page Fair report, says that 16% of the US online population blocked ads in Q2, 2015  and that ad block usage grew 48% during the past year. Chrome, with its ease installing extensions, and with Chrome’s growth as the browser of choice have made it the major blocker of ads.

In the mobile space, Firefox and Chrome are responsible for 93% of mobile ad blocking.

400 non-blocking ad users were asked what would make them change their mind (I’m shocked that, “I didn’t know I could!” wasn’t the top answer):

  • Misuse of personal information was the primary reason to enable ad blocking
  • An increase in the number of ads was more important among millennials
  • 1 in 4 respondents aged 35-49 do not have any desire to ever use ad blocking so”ware.

I use Chrome with Adblocker Plus as well as a noscript extension to limit ads. For those sites that responsibly show ads and act as a resource for me, I try and be a good user and white list them. The problem with adblocking isn’t that it exists, it’s that so many websites are reckless and irresponsible with display advertising. Until that changes, the percentages of ads being blocked can’t help but to increase.

How do you handle display ads? Is your professional attitude different than your private behaviors? Would love to hear from you.

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