Paid advertising improves online retail traffic

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Paid advertising has a 'positive impact'

Social networking websites are helping to improve the amount of traffic to online retailers, new research has revealed.

Online competition researchers Hitwise discovered social networks have overtaken webmail services including GoogleMail and Hotmail in their influence on consumers. Sites such as Twitter, Facebook and MySpace now account for 58.3 per cent of visits to shopping sites.

The company says that a year ago, online retailers received a similar amount of traffic from both social networks and webmail services.

Hitwise also found that visits to sites such as ASOS and rose by nearly two per cent over the last year.

Traffic through paid advertising on social media platforms increased from 5.2 per cent in March 2008 to 7.1 per cent in March 2009.

The top three online retail sites that received the most traffic from paid advertising on social networks were eBay UK, Amazon UK and Amazon and eBay's international counterparts also featured in Hitwise's top ten.

Social networks a 'fast-growing source'

In March, ASOS received 13.3 per cent of its traffic from paid advertising on Facebook.

It's believed social networks are a fast-growing source of web traffic for online retailers, despite them making up a small amount of the sector.

Robin Goad, Hitwise's director of research said: "At present, only a minority of retailers pick up a significant amount of traffic from social networks, but many of those that do, have seen a positive impact on traffic."