The Kindle, Amazon's Latest Search Traffic Driver

Launching a new product is hard work, and sometimes you have to twist reality for the sake of revenue. Just ask Amazon.com about their recently-released Kindle, the newest offering for portable reader technology. Back in December, the venerated month of holiday ka-ching, a "˜sony reader’ search on Amazon listed the Kindle as higher in relevance than the Sony reader itself. Contrast that with a kindle search, where, at the time of this post, the Sony Reader doesn’t even appear in the product results. Touchè, Amazon.

At two months out, a measurement of the search terms referring to Amazon reveals the Kindle ad campaign succeeded in raising consumer awareness. Joining the lofty ranks of Webkinz, Zune, Uggs and video game consoles, Kindle-related terms for November debuted in the top tier of brand terms most often referring to Amazon from search engines — quite a feat considering the product released late in the month — and 683,000 people visited the Kindle product page during those last two weeks. That momentum didn’t propel it into a much better showing in December, when 660,000 people saw the same page in the entire month. However, the search term breakdown remained largely unchanged month-over-month, with Kindle-related terms a prominent search driver in a search term space with a short head and an extremely long tail.

One point of interest in this traffic is its markedly different composition from the gadget audience norm. Mostly a glorified book and newspaper, the Kindle should cater to the same breadwinner crowd that predictably flocks to the newest device and its short-lived prestige. With most critics bemoaning its unattractive bulk, though, Kindle’s audience center shifts. For instance, the gadget standard that is the iPhone generates most interest with the young 20-something set, with a correlating peak in lower income brackets that defies high premiums. Alternatively, the Kindle skews more to the 30-something business professionals, with an audience peak at a higher income segment that can more easily manage the asking price. Clearly, the new reader appeals particularly to this demographic. Perhaps its "˜80s throwback design reminds them of a simpler, clunkier time with bigger hair"¦ or maybe they just read more books.

Amazon wisely realizes the Kindle can ride the "new gadget" wave only so far, and formed its marketing strategy accordingly. In its first two months the Kindle has done well despite its body-only-a-techie-can-love: the initial launch with a paltry number of units immediately sold out, and readers popped up on eBay with markups twice over the original. Just how tired of papercuts are consumers?

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