Measurement enjoys big score on Cyber Monday

In September 2005, members of the National Retail Foundation (NRF) met to discuss the importance of retail stores reporting a boost in online shopping on the Monday following Thanksgiving.

In September 2005, members of the National Retail Foundation (NRF) met to discuss the importance of retail stores reporting a boost in online shopping on the Monday following Thanksgiving. In fact, 77% of online retailers were reporting a sales increase on that day, according to a 2005 study. NRF members discussed ways to market the spike in activity and coined the term "Cyber Monday."

In hindsight, the creation of Cyber Monday is not that revolutionary. Of course, the reason why online numbers spiked on the Monday following Thanksgiving had something to do with shopping, given that Black Friday had become the unofficial start of the holiday season.

But the results are significant: With $733 million in sales, this year's Cyber Monday is the most successful single day of online retail, though experts expect some days in December to top $800 million.

What is also significant is that Cyber Monday was born because the NRF's adherence to measurement helped create a viable space for marketers and brands.

Measurement is a balance of science and art, where numbers don't tell the whole story. When corporations gingerly - then full-force - entered virtual world Second Life, they did so because the registered users - and anecdotes given about time spent in-world - positioned it as an untapped market for brand incursion.

But poor traffic (highlighted by real-world media pieces on barren storefronts) and undesired visitors (in the form of avatar-driven corporate sabotage) have exposed Second Life as place likely unfit for most brands.

When the term Cyber Monday was first bandied about in blogs and print media, skeptics abounded. Three years in, the day's increased revenues seem to signify a real shift in consumer behavior. You can mock ideas, but there is less for skeptics to say when they are confronted with numbers.

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