Santa On The Web

Looks like the upcoming holiday season is going to be good for the Internet. The Atlas Institute yesterday revealed the latest results of its second-annual holiday shopping study, according to which online spending is on track for the 2002 holiday season.

Young-Bean Song, director of the Atlas Institute, said, “We have seen an increase in this year's fall online shopping activity in comparison with years past. Obviously, the impact of Sept. 11th had an adverse affect on last year's shopping activity leading up to the holidays, but current activity suggests that we should be confident that online spending is on track for the 2002 holiday season."

Online shoppers' holiday shopping patterns remain very different from those of traditional, offline shoppers. The study, which examined the holiday shopping patterns of both online and offline customers, revealed that weekdays are the most active online shopping days during the holidays, especially Wednesdays, while Saturdays are the most active for offline shopping. Online shopping activity peaks during working hours from noon to 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Not surprisingly, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2001, was the biggest online shopping day as compared to offline shopping's traditional peaks of the day after Thanksgiving and the days just before Christmas. Online shopping tapers off approximately seven days before Christmas. This time decreased from 10 days from the 2000 study, likely due to increased customer confidence in shipping processes. Offline shopping, on the other hand, continues to increase until just before Christmas.

What does this mean to advertisers? Song suggests tailoring holiday online advertising messages to people who are at work; purchasing day-part placements, when possible, to target online shoppers during the middle of the workday; selecting advertising placements on the websites most frequented by or that target the at work audience; emphasize in messaging that shoppers still have time beyond the middle of December to order gifts and have them arrive before Christmas; and broadening campaigns to target the heavy post-Christmas shopping market.

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