New data shows surge in holiday mobile searches and ad clicks, signals marketer opportunity

Thursday, November 1, 2012 | 10:01 AM

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With the holiday season just weeks away, we sought out to understand how mobile behavior changes during national holidays throughout the year, particularly when people have a day off from work or school. What we found was a surge in activity on tablets and smartphones during these holidays, showing that when people are away from the office kicking back at home or out shopping, they increasingly turn to their smartphones and tablets nearby. More surprisingly, while we consistently saw mobile searches spike on holidays, we discovered an even more pronounced surge in mobile ad clicks, signaling that people are particularly interested in shopping and connecting with businesses.

For example, while Americans celebrated Labor Day this year with barbecues, family trips and shopping, they also often turned to their mobile devices nearby. Searches on smartphones were 7% higher compared to those on a typical Monday, and searches on tablets jumped by 25%. But perhaps more interestingly, clicks on mobile ads spiked even more dramatically in comparison to other average days. The chart below shows that on Labor Day, ad clicks on smartphones grew 9% compared to the average number of ad clicks on a typical Monday, while ad clicks on tablets jumped 39%.

This means that not only are people searching more on their mobile devices during holidays, but they’re actively looking to connect with businesses. So whether shoppers are using their free time to pick up a last-minute gift or buy holiday party supplies, this behavior presents an important opportunity for marketers to engage the mobile shopper.

We see these same mobile trends during holidays throughout the year, but find that they’re particularly pronounced on big shopping days like Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. For example, while smartphone searches last Black Friday rose by 17% compared to a normal day, ad clicks on smartphones that day jumped by 61%. Likewise, while tablet searches rose by 40% last Black Friday, clicks on tablet ads shot up by more than 100%, and stayed above average in the days following.

So what does all of this mean for businesses? Quite simply, it means that with people turning to more devices during the holidays, there are more opportunities for them to find and connect with you, whether they’re at home or on the go. Here are a few things that you can do to make sure you’re ready:

  1. Make sure that you have campaigns or new ad text for your holiday promotions or messages.
  2. Increase your budget cap on holidays to account for additional clicks.
  3. Adopt an always-on strategy to make sure your budget lasts throughout the day. Consumers are researching and shopping at any time throughout the day and you should make sure you can be found.
  4. Segment your historic campaign performance by device to understand how people interact with you across different devices like smartphones and tablets, and tweak your campaigns accordingly to capitalize.
  5. Expand keyword lists to include holiday-related terms and ensure you have keyword parity between your desktop and mobile campaigns so you’re reaching potential customers regardless of what device they’re using.

Posted by Ben Taggart, Mobile Analyst