Marketing Technology behind $35 billion in holiday 2011 ecommerce sales

Ever wonder who is the marketing technology behind the $35 billion dollars in e-commerce sales this holiday season? If you are an agency, wall street analyst, marketer, optimizer or any other player in the digital media ecosystem, you probably want to read below.

I always tell my team at The Media Kitchen that you can learn a lot from what other companies are doing; the good, the bad, and the ugly… so study them.  On the web, it’s relatively easy to study companies and their respective infrastructure as the source code of competitors is only 1 click away.

I teamed up with my friends over at Evidon who own the Ghostery product and had them send me a data dump of 3rd party tags that were placed on 20 e-commerce sites (list below).  Note, the data I have is fairly reliable but not perfect, so I may have missed a partner here or there.  However, I do have over 150+ partners who had tags down on these 20 e-commerce destinations, so I feel I have a directionally accurate view of who was part of the marketing technology ecosystem for Holiday 2011.

Sites I tracked were Best Buy, CouponCabin, Sports Authority, LL Bean, Gap, Dicks Sporting Goods, Bed Bath & Beyond, SVPPLY, DSW.com, Modells, Zappos, Old Navy, Disney, Target, Walmart, Gilt, Sears, Amazon, NewEgg, and Piperlime.

I counted a total of 413 partner tags/pixels placed across these 20 sites (note, I only went to 1-2 pages per site and assumed tags would be similar across most pages).

Executive Summary (full report can be downloaded here)

  • Best Buy, CouponCabin, and Sports Authority properties contained 43% of all tags placed.  The top 10 of the 20 sites accounted for 85% of all tags placed.  I am actually surprised that Amazon didn’t fall into the top 3, but again, Ghostery told me they only had 3 tags down on their pages (Turn, DoubleClick, Google Analytics).
  • The top 3 tags placed across all 20 sites were Google Analytics, Omniture, and DoubleClick.  No real surprise here.
  • The biggest surprise IMHO is that Google+1 outranks Facebook and Twitter as social plug-ins that are embedded across these ecommerce publishers.
  • The DSPs are in-line with the recent Forrestor report so I didn’t find anything crazy in those numbers.
  • Google Analytics has 70% coverage across these 20 e-commerce sites.  Imagine the data that Google could/is collecting.  Just saying.

In order to digest this 1000+ cell data dump, I created a schematic whereas I broke down the product (such as Tag Management) and took the top companies and their % composition the 20 e-commerce destinations.  The link to the excel sheet is at the bottom of this post.

Web Analytics software:  Google Analytics (70%), Omniture (60%), Foresee (40%), Webtrends (15%), Yahoo Analytics (15%), Coremetrics (10%)

3rd Party Ad Serving:  DoubleClick (55%), Microsoft Atlas (25%), ValueClick MediaPlex (35%), MediaMind (5%)

Tag Management:  BrightTag (20%), TagMan (5%)

DSP:  AppNexus AdNexus (30%), Turn (25%), MediaMath (20%), Invite Media (20%),  AdNetik (10%), X+1 (10%), Lucid (5%), DataXu (5%), Rocket Fuel (5%)

Exchange:  Right Media (35%), AdBrite (15%), OpenX (10%)

SSP:  PubMatic (50%), Rubicon (25%), Admeld (10%)

Social Plug-Ins:  Google +1 (45%), Facebook (40%), Twitter (15%), AddThis (15%)

Site Optimization:  Omniture (60%), Monetate (20%), RichRelevance (20%), Visual Website Optimizer (15%)

I believe the Omniture & DoubleClick tag data above is a bit misleading because those are grandiose tags that can do many different things and without the right context, they could be categorized incorrectly.  I tried my best.

Conclusion

Google dominates pretty much up and down the marketing technology stack. I still think they should buy Adobe to become the monopolistic dominant player (to get Omniture), but I don’t believe the government will ever allow that.

I was actually surprised that Omniture didn’t have even higher composition of the 20 ecommerce players.

I couldn’t tease out DoubleClick AdX from their other tags so that’s why they weren’t included in the Exchange part.

And of course, since I work, play, and invest in the marketing technology ecosystem, I’m conflicted up the wazoo with many of the companies mentioned in this post as well, as, the data in the chart linked below.  I have done my best to tease out bias.  Please proceed with caution but honestly, I don’t think you need to.  Contact me if you are interested in discussing.

Thought you might find all of this data interesting.  I have included my chart here in case you want to download it and play with it.  The full report I put together is located herePlease remember to give proper attribution if you use it.

I’m curious to look at this data in 2012 and compare it to 2011 (I don’t have historicals).  I’m sure we’ll see some interesting changes.

Happy holidays.

Darren Herman is the Chief Digital Media Officer of The Media Kitchen (part of kbs+) and is President of kbs+ Ventures which is an early stage marketing technology institutional investment arm of the agency.  His tweets can be found at @dherman76 and blogging here at http://www.darrenherman.com

  • http://twitter.com/jasonlehmbeck Jason Lehmbeck

    Great insights. Thanks for sharing. Were you not able to determine the makeup of paid search technologies leveraged?

    • http://www.darrenherman.com dherman76

       Jason, thanks for stopping by.  I’ll be adding the Paid Search technologies (if discernible) to the report I’m putting together.

  • http://twitter.com/jasonlehmbeck Jason Lehmbeck

    Great insights. Thanks for sharing. Were you not able to determine the makeup of paid search technologies leveraged?

  • http://www.darrenherman.com dherman76

    Jason, thanks for stopping by.  I'll be adding the Paid Search technologies (if discernible) to the report I'm putting together.

  • http://twitter.com/davidhhendricks Dave Hendricks

    Hey Darren – Super Interesting.  And *not* surprising since +1 improves PageRank while Likes may improve something, but certainly not search results.  Expect to see this happen more as retailers etc clue in to the benefits of +1

  • http://twitter.com/davidhhendricks Dave Hendricks

    Hey Darren – Super Interesting.  And *not* surprising since +1 improves PageRank while Likes may improve something, but certainly not search results.  Expect to see this happen more as retailers etc clue in to the benefits of +1

  • http://twitter.com/davidhhendricks Dave Hendricks

    Oh, and btw, where’s your +1 on this page? ;)

    • http://www.darrenherman.com dherman76

      Good call. I have many edits to do on this blog including upgrading my backend. It’s on my 2012 list.

  • http://twitter.com/davidhhendricks Dave Hendricks

    Oh, and btw, where's your +1 on this page? ;)

  • http://www.darrenherman.com dherman76

    Good call. I have many edits to do on this blog including upgrading my backend. It's on my 2012 list.

  • jason

    One quick thought that may or may not be correct – Turn’s “DSP” tag number may be high considering some of their tags are associated with their DMP product. For instance, the behavior b/w pixels associated with the d.turn.com and t.turn.com domains are significantly different. 

    • http://www.darrenherman.com dherman76

      Totally fair, and of course, similar with other players. This is part of the overall “caveat” that all things are directional.

  • jason

    One quick thought that may or may not be correct – Turn's “DSP” tag number may be high considering some of their tags are associated with their DMP product. For instance, the behavior b/w pixels associated with the d.turn.com and t.turn.com domains are significantly different.

  • http://www.darrenherman.com dherman76

    Totally fair, and of course, similar with other players. This is part of the overall “caveat” that all things are directional.

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  • http://www.twitter.com/shoesiq Stuart Watson

    Darren,

    Happy New Year and thanks for the initial take on marketing technology running behind the scenes.  A couple of questions and things to consider:

    - What pages were part of the evaluation?  HP vs. top of shopping cart funnel could have very different solutions.
    - Appnexus is both an exchange as well as a DSP.  Hard to say what/how it might be used across these sites.
    - Should dynamic creative vendors be part of the list?  (Terascent/Google/Invite Media are all over BestBuy).
    - Ghostery does not always tell the whole story.  I use it and it’s great for a quick glance.  But if you really need to know what is going on the actual HTTP request are more valuable.  I have seen Ghostery miss things that are running behind the tag on the page.

    Three really good options to monitor/capture HTTP request/responses:

    - Charles Proxy - http://www.charlesproxy.com/
    - Firebug (on Firefox) b/c it can monitor network traffic.
    - Tamper Data (on Firefox) is a really good extension.

    I would love to help just let me know how.

    Thanks

    Stuart

    • http://www.darrenherman.com dherman76

      Stuart, thanks for the comments.  I totally 100% understand what you are saying and I tried to caveat the report in the beginning and throughout that everything is directional.  All of your comments are totally true and we can change that in the future.  Appreciate you stopping by!  Will check out Charles Proxy and Tamper Data – hadn’t heard of those

      • http://www.twitter.com/shoesiq Stuart Watson

        Darren,

        Charles is great b/c you can actually see how the piggybacking is working and who is doing it. I’m going to start digging in a little more and happy to share what I find.

        Thanks

        Stuart

  • http://www.twitter.com/shoesiq Stuart Watson

    Darren,

    Happy New Year and thanks for the initial take on marketing technology running behind the scenes.  A couple of questions and things to consider:

    - What pages were part of the evaluation?  HP vs. top of shopping cart funnel could have very different solutions.
    - Appnexus is both an exchange as well as a DSP.  Hard to say what/how it might be used across these sites.
    - Should dynamic creative vendors be part of the list?  (Terascent/Google/Invite Media are all over BestBuy).
    - Ghostery does not always tell the whole story.  I use it and it's great for a quick glance.  But if you really need to know what is going on the actual HTTP request are more valuable.  I have seen Ghostery miss things that are running behind the tag on the page.

    Three really good options to monitor/capture HTTP request/responses:

    - Charles Proxy - http://www.charlesproxy.com/
    - Firebug (on Firefox) b/c it can monitor network traffic.
    - Tamper Data (on Firefox) is a really good extension.

    I would love to help just let me know how.

    Thanks

    Stuart

  • Jonathan Kopp

    Great analysis, valuable insights. Thanks for sharing, Darren. One more reason to be bullish on G+ in 2012. Happy new year!

    • http://www.darrenherman.com dherman76

      Thanks Jonathan!  Happy New Year to you as well!

  • Jonathan Kopp

    Great analysis, valuable insights. Thanks for sharing, Darren. One more reason to be bullish on G+ in 2012. Happy new year!

  • http://www.darrenherman.com dherman76

    Thanks Jonathan!  Happy New Year to you as well!

  • http://www.darrenherman.com dherman76

    Stuart, thanks for the comments.  I totally 100% understand what you are saying and I tried to caveat the report in the beginning and throughout that everything is directional.  All of your comments are totally true and we can change that in the future.  Appreciate you stopping by!  Will check out Charles Proxy and Tamper Data – hadn't heard of those

  • http://www.twitter.com/shoesiq Stuart Watson

    Darren,

    Charles is great b/c you can actually see how the piggybacking is working and who is doing it. I'm going to start digging in a little more and happy to share what I find.

    Thanks

    Stuart

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  • http://techsnewsource.blogspot.com/ Pzetti

    Well we will just have to wait for them to catch up then! Piggybacking indeed.

  • http://techsnewsource.blogspot.com/ Pzetti

    Well we will just have to wait for them to catch up then! Piggybacking indeed.

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