Study finds holiday shopping begins in Oct.

Faith Merino · October 27, 2010 · Short URL:

A study released by PointRoll finds that most shoppers begin looking for deals as early as October

Thought late November and early December were the peak shopping times?  Most of us did—but a study released Wednesday by PointRoll finds that most holiday shoppers are looking for deals in late October and early November.

PointRoll, a digital marketing services provider that allows advertisers, agencies, and Web publishers to create and track interactive online video, rich media display, mobile, social, and search campaigns, has been around for about ten years, and the study was conducted by looking at the last three years of data, specifically what was trending in the retail category.  The company found that while most holiday advertising campaigns don’t even get started until the third week of November, most consumers are interested in late October. 

“There is a lot of volume in Q4,” said Max Mead, VP of business development and analytics, in a phone interview with VatorNews.  “Everyone is trying to advertise at the same time, and that’s going to create a lot of noise.”  Indeed, the study finds that advertisers have more success reaching consumers when they start their ad campaigns earlier.  “Engagement rates with ads are high in late October and early November.” 

One might assume that these high engagement rates are simply due to the fact that the advertising space isn’t as crowded in October as it is in December (for God’s sake, who wants to think about Christmas shopping at Halloween?), but the study suggests otherwise. Brand time actually peaks in the first two weeks of November, with consumers spending an average of 18 seconds with marketers’ advertisements.  This number drops out 22% throughout the remainder of the quarter to 14 seconds in the last week of December.

Interaction rates, which are measured when a consumer “interacts” with the ad through clicking on it or watching a video, see their highest rate of 6% in the first weeks of November, before dropping off to 4% in the first week of December.  They rise again to 5% in the final weeks of December.  Click-through rates (CTR) also see their highest levels in the first weeks of November.

But what about Black Friday or Cyber Monday, you might be asking (as I did).  User engagement spikes at these times, likely due to the prevalence of deals and discounts, but while marketers are launching their ad campaigns under the belief that the shopping season officially starts in the last week of November, most consumers have already started looking around by late October.

“Because fewer advertisers are in market with their ads early in the holiday season, marketers who begin their media efforts earlier stand to increase revenues disproportionately to their competitors during the fourth quarter,” said Mead. ”Savvy retail marketers looking for an edge during the holiday season should begin their online campaigns early to capitalize on user interest and to distance themselves from their peers.”

Interestingly, the study also finds that while, overall, consumer confidence is rising, brand loyalty is diminishing.

 “Consumers are seeing a lot of discounts and deals.  Retailers need to be aggressive and creative,” said Mead.  “They should keep ads as interactive as possible to maintain a two-way conversation.”

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