Saturday, 22 November 2014 17:12

Adobe backpedals on Click Frenzy claims Featured


Adobe’s prediction that the Click Frenzy online shopping promotion would generate $189 million in sales has been ‘corrected’.

It seems that Adobe’s prediction was incorrect, and based on a poorly worded press release. The company has only itself to blame.

This week we wrote that Click Frenzy was a failure. That assertion was based on the extent to which our calculations of its sales this year fell short of Adobe’s predictions. Based on various observations and calculations, we worked out that Click Frenzy maybe made its participating retailers $51 million during the 24 hour promo (though a more relevant figure would be how much more they made during that period than they would have if Click Frenzy did not exist).

We then simply applied that number to Adobe’s prediction, outlined in a press release on 7 November, which was widely published as the Click Frenzy target, and pointed out that $51 million is barely a quarter of $189 million.

No, no, no, that is not what we meant at all, says Adobe, in a flurry of backtracking late Friday afternoon. First iTWire received a note from Edelman, Adobe’s PR company, that: “The Adobe Digital Index shopping prediction takes into account all Australian online sales, not just the retailers that are part of the Click Frenzy Group.”

Hmmm – the initial press release did not read like that: “Australian shoppers will reach for their smartphones when Click Frenzy, the biggest online shopping day of the year, kicks off the holiday shopping season next week with spending predicted to top $189 million in just 24 hours.”

Now, you could at a pinch read that to mean that the $189 million was not just Click Frenzy, but by heading off with Click Frenzy (and heading the release “Australians poised to set new records as online holiday shopping frenzy looms”) it was easy to read it the other way. Many publications, including Fairfax Media (see here), did indeed read it that way, with the Fairfax article also quoting Click Frenzy’s Grant Arnott as endorsing Adobe’s prediction.

So ambiguous was Adobe’s claim, in fact, that Edelman felt the need to send out a correction to all media at the ridiculous time of 6:11pm on Friday (a time when most journalists are on to their third beer): “Please note correction to Adobe media release dated 7 November 2014. Adobe Digital Index spending prediction of $189 million for online holiday shopping period includes all online retail spend including Click Frenzy. The period mentioned in the original media release was 24 hours and we regret the error.”

I’m sure they do regret it. There must have been a fair bit of faecal matter hitting the cooling blades at Click Frenzy, Adobe and Edelman as things were clarified. Strong words would have been exchanged. Senior PR people don’t issue corrections out of hours unless someone’s well and truly got their knickers in a knot.

In its enthusiasm to promote Click Frenzy as an example of a trend supporting its self-interested predictions, Adobe – or its PR company Edelman – wrote a press release containing a claim so ambiguous it needed to be corrected.

Of course, all this could have been avoided if the original press release had been clearly written. Better still, Click Frenzy could come clean on its numbers, rather than issuing slippery statistics on growth rates. Unless it has something to hide …

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire. He is one of Australia’s longest serving and most experienced IT journalists. He is author of the only definitive history of the Australian IT industry, ‘A Vision Splendid: The History of Australian Computing.’

He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time weekly IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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