Google Tips Marketers To Hot Holiday Searches

Google search page/ laptop

Google search data in June 2008 suggested that Barack Obama would become the next to sit in the Oval Office. If the Mountain View, Calif. search engine could provide the foresight to predict the next United States president, then perhaps it can give marketers a clue to improve paid search campaigns and conversions.

So what are consumers searching for on Google during the 2009 holiday season? Coupons, sales, and deals --as well as Black Friday and Cyber Monday discounts and specials -- are a handful of terms that are being searched on.

Retailers are planning more online promotions this year. Target, Walmart and Toys R Us will run sales through the holiday weekend, with additional sales on Nov. 30, or Cyber Monday. The National Retail Federation, the retail trade group, says that on Monday about 9 major retailers plan Cyber Monday deals -- up from about 84% last year.

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Searches on Google reveal that this year's hot new toy is the stuffed hamster known as Zhu Zhu Pets, available in five battery-operated styles. At around $7.99 each, the rodents are recession-friendly for parents who want to please their kids, but can't shell out the big bucks. Google search queries for the hamsters are up 65% since October.

When it comes to consumer electronics, searches for smartphones rose 6% compared with last year; netbooks rose more than 60%; mini notebook computers, up more than 70%; and mini computers, up 40%.

Much of the data comes from Google Insights for Search. This can provide marketers at big-box department stores, such as Wal-Mart or Target, with a tool to expand a campaign's message based on specific category sets. For marketers working with niche categories, the tool can help to broaden narrow sets of keyword terms, according to John McAteer, head of our retail industry team at Google.

Data from Google and OTX research suggest that there is still time to finesse the paid-search campaigns. About 59% of consumers have started shopping, but 90% have not finished buying gifts. Many are holding out for Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals.

Consumers who are trying to save money are searching for deals on coupon-related search terms. In fact, searches for coupons rose steadily during the past five years. This year, searches on the keyword "coupon" rose 8% in the United States, compared with this time last year. Searches for "printable coupons" rose more than 40%, compared with the same time a year ago.

Consumers are also searching for coupon codes. Searches on the term rose more than 20% compared with a year ago. Holiday Inn Coupons, Holiday Coupon Codes and Holiday Coupons are the top three related searches for coupons.

"The economy is still on the minds of consumers," McAteer says. "If you're a retailer, remaining aware of that is important in terms of how you will promote your products."

Searches for online layaway are up more than 40% compared with last year's peak. Free shipping also rose this year by 10%. Searches for free shipping codes are up by more than 25%. It appears that if free shipping is not advertised by a retailer, consumers are willing to look for a way to get it.

Consumers searching for Black Friday deals have risen steadily. The top 10 searches as of Nov. 23 include 2009 Black Friday, Walmart Deals, Black Friday Walmart, Best Buy Deals, Black Friday Ads, TV Deals, Online Deals, Online Black Friday, Laptop Deals and Black Friday Sales.

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