Giftcards Soaring In Search Results As Zero Hour Approaches

Written by Evan Schuman
December 19th, 2006

It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that as Zero Hour approaches for holiday shoppers, the “have run out of time to think of anything clever” giftcard gift will suddenly dominate purchaser thoughts. The latest Web traffic figures from Hitwise–released on Tuesday–showed gift card searches soared 109 percent compared with the prior week. The top giftcard searches were, in sequence, Visa giftcard, AmericanExpress giftcard, iTunes giftcard, Rite Aid giftcard, the Simon Mall giftcard, the Citizen’s Bank giftcard, AAA Visa giftcard, MasterCard giftcards, Discover giftcard and the Home Depot giftcard.

A Hitwise statement attributed to GM Bill Tancer said “branded credit and charge gift cards dominated top searches as gift givers opted for the most flexibility for their gift recipients.” It’s more likely they dominated the searches because advertising made them top-of-mind for desperate consumers.

One other interesting detail from the Hitwise research were the top search terms (in the U.S., at least) that sent consumers to key retail sites: For eBay, that term was “iPod.” (Maybe there’s an afinity between brands that have this psychotic first lower-case and second upper-case lettering.) For Wal-Mart and BestBuy (and, for what it’s worth, Craig’s List), it’s Nintendo. For Target, the magic word has been Ugg boots and for Amazon, it’s Heelys.


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Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
Two possible reasons that I can think of and have seen in the past - 1) Cards issued by European banks when used online cross border don't usually support AVS checks. So, when a European card is used with a billing address that's in the US, an ecom merchant wouldn't necessarily know that the shipping zip code doesn't match the billing code. 2) Also, in offline chip countries the card determines whether or not a transaction is approved, not the issuer. In my experience, European issuers haven't developed the same checks on authorization requests as US issuers. So, these cards might be more valuable because they are more likely to get approved. Read more...
A smart card slot in terminals doesn't mean there is a reader or that the reader is activated. Then, activated reader or not, the U.S. processors don't have apps certified or ready to load into those terminals to accept and process smart card transactions just yet. Don't get your card(t) before the terminal (horse). Read more...
The marketplace does speak. More fraud capacity translates to higher value for the stolen data. Because nearly 100% of all US transactions are authorized online in real time, we have less fraud regardless of whether the card is Magstripe only or chip and PIn. Hence, $10 prices for US cards vs $25 for the European counterparts. Read more...
@David True. The European cards have both an EMV chip AND a mag stripe. Europeans may generally use the chip for their transactions, but the insecure stripe remains vulnerable to skimming, whether it be from a false front on an ATM or a dishonest waiter with a handheld skimmer. If their stripe is skimmed, the track data can still be cloned and used fraudulently in the United States. If European banks only detect fraud from 9-5 GMT, that might explain why American criminals prefer them over American bank issued cards, who have fraud detection in place 24x7. Read more...

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