LogoIt was hard to avoid the buzz on August 19th, when Groupon offered a national deal with The Gap which offered purchasers $50 in merchandise for $25, a 50% savings. Social Times’ analysis was that the promotion was a clear win for Groupon; assessing how well The Gap fared requires a more long-term view. Hot off the spreadsheets of Experian Hitwise are some statistics that quantify some of the deal’s social media activity. After the jump, what we learned.

Experian Hitwise observes that over the past year, group buying websites have surged in both popularity and number. The weekly market share of visits to a custom category of 81 group buying websites and aggregators increased 416% for the week ending August 21, 2010 as compared to the same week the previous year. Groupon is currently leading the group buying websites in traffic and captured 50% of all visits within the custom category that week.

WMS Group Buying 08-19-2010 Small

The discount for The Gap caused visits to Groupon.com to increase 37% from the previous day and 51% as compared to Thursday, August 12th, one week earlier. Looking at the graph, though, we see two days in the month preceding with spikes higher than The Gap promotion day. Keep in mind that the graph represents Groupon.com site hits, not purchases. But it appears to demonstrate that a combination of local deals can drive the same – or more – traffic to a group buying website as a full-court press national promotion.

DMS Groupon 08-25-2010 Small

Interested purchasers were also visiting Gap.com immediately after Groupon.com; the share of downstream traffic from Groupon.com to Gap.com jumped to 4.18% on August 19th. Experian Hitwise stated this figure is strong from a customer acquisition standpoint because 53% of the visitors referred from Groupon.com to Gap.com were new, meaning they had not visited the website in the past 30 days.

Social Times used data from several other sources to estimate that about a third of the 441,000 who purchased The Gap deal at Groupon then went to The Gap website. We noted that The Gap website did not reflect any special initiative on the day of the promotion. Did The Gap manage to convert some of those approximately 80,000 new visitors?

Experian Hitwise also reported that searches for “gap coupons ranked 4th on August 19, 2010 among the search terms driving traffic to Groupon.com, behind “groupon”, “groupon.com” and “groupon boston”.

DMS Downstream Groupon to Gap 08-19-2010 SMALL

Why are these metrics so important and why do we want to see as complete a picture of this promotion as possible? Unlike most social media activities, The Gap/Groupon deal was anchored with a fixed start and stop time, reported total sales figures and the participation of a strong, public brand. It’s ideal for us to assess our best practices and measurement tools to chart their further refinement.