NEW YORK -- With Valentine's Day less than 24 hours behind us, greeting card sites are already moving on to the next occasion. "Celebrate winter," some encourage, while others tout St. Patrick's Day.
Despite the seemingly endless stream of marketable holidays, the leader in online greetings is experiencing traffic declines as it tries to reduce its reliance on an ad-based revenue model, according to Jupiter Media Metrix. The American Greetings network -- which includes Americangreetings.com, Bluemountain.com and Egreetings.com -- saw traffic tumble 10 percent, from 25.5 million in November 2001 to 22.9 million the following month. The decline coincided with the company's move in December to charge customers $11.95 per year to access and send most of the network's cards.
Meanwhile, competitors Yahoo Greetings and Hallmark.com have benefited from traffic migrating to the two sites, both of which continue to offer their services for free. According to Jupiter, traffic to Yahoo Greetings increased 70 percent from 5.4 million visitors in November 2001 to 9.1 million in December. Hallmark.com's traffic grew 74 percent from 4.7 million to 8.2 million.
Additionally, American Greetings' online advertising reflects its changing revenue model--from one that relied primarily on ad revenue to one that makes money from fees. During the fourth quarter, 58 percent of American Greetings' total online ad impressions were directed at converting users to the pay service. Conversely, Hallmark.com's advertising focused on selling gifts such as flowers, cards and other gifts.