Five most interesting search marketing news stories of the week

Welcome to our weekly round-up of all the latest news and research from the world of search marketing and beyond.

This week, Amazon is wooing Prime subscribers with a new, exclusive credit card, brand interest in Snapchat may not be as high as it seems, and the privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo is on the up-and-up, reaching a record of 14 million anonymous searches in one day.

Amazon unveils new credit card exclusive to Prime members

Since the launch of Amazon Prime as an express shipping service in 2005, Amazon has continued to add benefits to its exclusive subscription service in a bit to retain existing subscribers and lure new ones.

The latest of these is the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card, a new credit card exclusive to Amazon Prime members, which offers a hefty 5% cashback on all Amazon purchases, as well as a 1-2% cashback on other types of purchase, and a $70 gift card to new cardholders once they’re approved.

Al Roberts covered the news for ClickZ this week, looking at how Amazon is aiming to outdo major retail rival Costco with the new card, in its bid to become the go-to retailer in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card, the only card that offers 5% Back on all Amazon.com purchases and rewards everywhere else you shop. (Photo: Business Wire)

More brands sign up for Snapchat, but not all are active

Snapchat is currently preparing to make an Initial Public Offering that could be the largest in the social media space since Facebook’s in 2012.

But although Snapchat has made a number of moves to tempt businesses into marketing on its platform, such as adding ecommerce features, redesigning its Discover platform to appeal to publishers, and adding Facebook-like audience targeting, a new report by research firm L2 has revealed that many businesses still don’t know what to do with Snapchat.

According to L2, many of the brands that are signed up to Snapchat have “struggled to produce content for the platform”, and the amount of active brands on Snapchat dropped from 70% to 67% between January and October. Al Roberts reported on the news for ClickZ this week and assessed whether Snapchat will be able to build up the momentum to challenge Facebook’s social media dominance.

Why the world’s major brands are making the switch to their own web extension

To date, more than 550 of the world’s largest brands have applied for their own Top-Level Domains, or TLDs – the part of a URL that appears after the dot (e.g. .com or .net).

Given the sizeable application fee of almost $200,000 USD, it stands to reason that most of the brands using these TLDs are big hitters like Apple, Google, Walmart and Nike, using them to create more simplified and memorable navigation that harks back to the days of Windows 2000. Tereza Litsa looked at how the new extensions work, and what the benefits are for both marketers and consumers.

A bunch of colourful road signs bearing custom top-level domains such as .music, .nyc and .club.

Image by felixart05, available via CC BY-ND 3.0

eBay to launch authentication service for high-end merchandise

eBay is one of the web’s foremost ecommerce pioneers, facilitating the purchase of hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of goods every year. But one of its biggest sources of friction relates to the sale of counterfeit goods, particularly high-end and luxury goods such as jewellery, fashion and handbags.

For years, eBay has offered a Verified Rights Owner programme which lets brands report suspected fakes, but late last week it announced that it will be launching a new programme, eBay Authenticate, which is specifically targeted at sellers of luxury items. Due to roll out later this year, eBay Authenticate will allow high-end sellers to have professional authenticators evaluate their items for an as-yet unspecified fee. It also promises, subject to certain terms and conditions, to refund buyers twice the cost of the original item if merchandise they purchase is found to be counterfeit during the eBay Authenticate process.

DuckDuckGo hits 14 million searches in one day

The privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo yesterday announced two major milestones to its blog: at the end of last year, it surpassed a cumulative total of 10 billion searches served, with more than 4 billion of those carried out in 2016 alone. And earlier this month, DuckDuckGo reached an all-time high of 14 million searches in just one day.

A novelty rubber duck wearing scuba diving gear.

DuckDuckGo hailed this news as a success for the spread of privacy online, pointing out a Pew Research Study which reported that 40% of users believe their search engine shouldn’t retain information about their search activity. It’s definitely a huge achievement for a small, independent search engine like DuckDuckGo, which doesn’t retain any information about its users or sell it on to advertisers, and whose features are largely community-created and crowdsourced.

Its presence mostly spreads by word of mouth, and yet DuckDuckGo’s traffic is growing faster than ever, which could indicate that more and more people are starting to take an interest in privacy and anonymity online.

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