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Sweethearts Search, Buy Valentines on the Web

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Organic searches lead to more conversions than pay-per-click (PPC) or sponsored results. Data released by Oneupweb observed a peak in holiday-related sales on Tuesday, February 6.

Natural or organic search results accounted for 34 percent more traffic and 21 percent higher sales than pay-per-click (PPC) ads or sponsored results over the two weeks leading up to Valentine's Day.

"It confirms that natural is as important as paid," said Lisa Wehr, president and CEO of Oneupweb. "Valentine's is a short holiday, not like Christmas where people purchase items months in advance, so I thought paid would play a stronger role."

Paid Valentines Aggregate
Click on graphic to view Oneupweb's Combined Valentines Aggregate chart
Google accounted for 75 percent of search traffic, and delivered 72 percent of sales. Yahoo served 16 percent of Valentine-related traffic, and 18 percent of sales. MSN supplied 9 percent of traffic, and 10 percent of sales.

Paid Valentines Aggregate
Click on graphic to view Oneupweb's Natural Valentines Aggregate chart
"To some degree market share is going to have something to contribute," said Wehr. "Google's ad network is still larger than Yahoo's ad network, they're a player in the space and I think that's going to speak to more volume for them."

Shopping online for Valentine's day gifts happened a week before the holiday this year. The bulk of online conversions were made on Tuesday, February 6, with just a few less on the previous day. Broadband access at the office and time away from loved ones are the likely reasons for the Monday and Tuesday peak. For opposite reasons, the weekend garnered far less traffic for the timely category.

Paid Valentines Aggregate
Click on graphic to view Oneupweb's Paid Valentines Aggregate chart
A peak in traffic occurred on Monday, February 12, just two days before the holiday, though conversion rates were lower. It suggests consumers were looking for ideas online past shipping dates, to make purchases offline. "Aside from flowers, that window is pretty much closed," said Wehr. "I really do anticipate that it's last minute shoppers trying to figure out what they want. Even if it's not a brick-and-mortar store's site, they're getting ideas online to go and purchase something in a physical store."

OneUpWeb observed the online search behavior of more than 250,000 unique visitors across a variety of retail Web sites including Valentine's Day apparel, gifts, jewelry and flowers. Data were collected between February 1 and February 12. Conversion rates are calculated as a percentage of unique visitors who take an action on a Web site after clicking on a PPC ad or a natural search engine result.


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