A look back at a merry multi-screen holiday season

Thursday, February 21, 2013 | 9:00 AM

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This past holiday season, homes were aglow with the twinkling lights of large screens (like laptops, desktops and tablets) and mobile phones alike. In our holiday consumer survey, conducted in partnership with Nielsen, we found that consumers relied on their devices more this holiday season, moving fluidly between devices based on their setting and context. 63% of consumers frequently used more than one digital device to shop for gifts this holiday season, and 67% of consumers believe that “having access to multiple devices makes it easier to shop”.

Another important finding was that more screens means more shopping. People using one device to research and shop made online and offline purchases across an average of six product categories (like electronics, apparel, auto parts, etc), while those that used two devices purchased across eight categories, and people who used all three devices shopped across an average of nine categories. 


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In many cases, consumers discovered a business on one device, for example on their smartphone while in a store, and would then engage further with that business on another device at a later time. We saw that 65% of holiday shoppers were frequently engaging in this sequential behavior throughout all of their shopping. For multi-screen shoppers, different devices fulfill specific objectives. For example, smartphones were the preferred device for contacting or navigating to a business with 71% of shoppers using a store locator on their phone, while 82% of shoppers used a larger device like PC or tablet for making online purchases.

These same multi-screen trends carried us into 2013 as people used multiple devices to make and keep new years resolutions. Looking at search query behavior around New Years, we saw an interesting twist on the classic resolution of becoming more healthy. People used their smartphones on January 1st to look up things like gym memberships, diets, or cleanses, and then the following day, searches for those same words spiked on tablets and desktop as people continued their research on these devices at home or at work. This behavior demonstrated the growing trend of using multiple devices in combination to help make everyday decisions. 




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Implications for businesses
This multi-screen consumer behavior doesn't fade away with the holiday. In fact, better understanding how people searched, shopped and seamlessly moved between multiple screens during the holiday can give us insight into this new constantly connected consumer. So what can businesses do about it?

One good answer is to think context. All these new search patterns have created new opportunities for businesses to be more relevant to people’s context. Context signals like time of day, general location, and the kind of device a person is using, provide powerful insights into what they may be looking for and where they are in the buying cycle.

Within AdWords, advertisers now have the opportunity to use enhanced campaigns, which help them reach people across all devices with smarter ads that are relevant to their intent and context. Learn more about enhanced campaigns here.

This multi-screen behavior will only continue throughout the year. As device penetration grows and multi-screen behavior becomes the norm, those businesses that evolve their marketing strategy along with it will remain the most relevant and see the greatest results.

Posted by: Adam Grunewald, Product Marketing Manager, Mobile Ads

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