Targeting The Bad Santa Demo

Call it the mobile-induced expectation of immediacy. But it appears that untethering the Internet from the desktop has some impact on people's last-minute planning. The travel industry seemed to be the first to note this effect. With the rise of mobility, many of the online discount booking services saw remarkable activity around same-day bookings. People were making a habit of scoping the currently available rooms in a city to which they had traveled expecting to get a room. This is one that took me by surprise, if only because I am a planner when it comes to travel. I get no sense of adventure flying into uncharted territory and depending on an app and the vagaries of hotel room cycles to get a room.

But I am precisely the kind of guy who understands this last-second behavior -- shopping. According to research from local ad platform xAd, mobile search activity around retail topics is significantly higher on Christmas Eve than it is on Black Friday, Cyber Monday or any other shopping days in the holiday cycle. They indexed search activity around key categories of big-box retail, apparel, electronics, toys, luxury and seasonal and found mobile activity at more than 2.5X higher than normal compared to about 2.25X on Black Friday. Actually, Christmas Eve is just the peak of a ramp-up on mobile search that starts on the 22nd.

In fact, it is that mad rush for brick-and-mortar retail solutions to last-minute holiday problems that appears to be behind all of this rather than mobile transactions. Curiously, all of this last-second store hunting is going on over devices, not the desktop. Or at least that is xAd's analysis comparing shopping-related terms on Google Trends across Black Friday and the days leading up to and including Christmas Eve. They see no significant spike in desktop searching around physical retail. We can speculate that desktop-based retail search tends to align with longer research and delivery cycles. But once we get on top of the gift-giving holiday itself, in-depth, leisurely research and online ordering both leave the table.

Of course, you can't have a holiday shopping pattern emerge without its own tag. Yeah, xAd dubs it “Mobile Eve.” Okay, it could have been worse. But if as their numbers suggest, we see search behavior move to mobile in the days before a big gifting holiday (think Mother's Day and Valentine's Day), then mobile marketing should be targeting procrastination. xAd recommends focusing on advertising into your retail locations for targeted appeals. Given the desperation motivating many shoppers at this stage, this may be a good time for that special deal. Likewise, since these laggards are on a tight schedule, it may be worthwhile to communicate the range of items and deals available in a single location.     

Personally, I think there is loads of room here for ad creative that teases out consumer guilt and tendency to overspend in those final days. Speaking as a last-minute Santa, I know that one falls into a certain mode in the final hours. You are wracked with frustration and guilt for rushing through what should be thoughtful gift-giving to ones you love. And this is what leads to random acts of excess -- over-gifting by way of compensation. Members of my family have all at some point been shocked by opening game consoles, jewelry, holiday trips, even laptops -- simply because at the fifty-ninth minute of the eleventh hour this elf chose to buy his way out of a conundrum with the most expensive but sure-fire option. I imagine an entire class of mobile ad creative could come from this not uncommon use case.

“Give the Gift of Diamonds – Because You Got Nothing Else, Now Do You?”  

1 comment about "Targeting The Bad Santa Demo".
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  1. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, December 17, 2013 at 11:27 a.m.

    Good analysis - this could actually work, but you need more information to apply it year-round to birthdays and anniversaries etc.

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