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Google Says Mix of Traditional, Digital Ads Drive Toy Shopping

  |  January 4, 2012   |  Comments

It's not exactly news that parents buy kids what they ask for, but a survey finds only two thirds of gift givers were influenced by children.

Digital media continued to grow in importance for shoppers researching toys this holiday season, but advertisers could do much more to help them out, according to a study from Google.

Google's Toy Shopper's Journey Study was conducted by Compete. It included an online survey of people among the 2 million panelists who researched or shopped for toys online within the past six months. It measured consumer behavior within the industry from July 2009 to July 2011, analyzing the behavior of people buying toys.

It's not exactly news that parents buy kids what they ask for but, surprisingly, the survey found that only two thirds of toy gift givers were influenced by children. Perhaps that third third was doting grandparents and aunties who refused to give in to the kids Barbie mania and princess dreams?

In any case, the two thirds who did read the kids' want lists used an average of three online resources to shop.

Don't discount the influence of offline advertising. The survey found that shoppers exposed to TV ads and old-school circulars fired up Google to search online within one week. Nevertheless, the influence of traditional media on toy frenzy has dropped steadily over the last seven years, Google found.

Almost half of all buyers used more than five sites, while half of them spent more than two weeks before buying. One in five used mobile devices to shop, with search the top activity. Fanatical toy hunters researched online at home (63 percent); at work (28 percent); in restaurants (18 percent); while in actual stores (15 percent); and while commuting (10 percent) - hopefully not while driving.

To like is not necessarily to buy, but vertical shopping search engine TheFind noted that the most "Liked" toys, based on Facebook Like button clicks, were:

  • Sesame Street Let's Rock Elmo
  • Leapfrog Explorer Tablet in green
  • VTech InnoTab Interactive Learning Tablet in blue
  • Barbie I Can Be... News Anchor Doll
  • Disney Princess Ultimate Dream Castle

Social networking and review sites played a relatively small role in toy shopping this holiday season, according to Google's Compete survey: 23 percent of shoppers used social networking and consumer review sites, compared to 58 percent using online retailer sites, 53 percent using mass merchants' sites, and 43 percent using search engines.

The consumer survey found plenty of missed opportunity among all digital resources. Only 26 percent of consumers found search engine listings extremely useful; a mere 16 percent found online video ads to be extremely useful; and only 14 percent found website ads to be so.

Still, digital media were more helpful than TV ads, which provided value to only 11 percent of survey respondents.

When the survey looked at advertising's ability to get shoppers to stores or retail websites, it found that 56 percent of consumers who recalled being exposed to a search ad were prompted to take the next step, with video the next highest driver (48 percent), followed by display ads (45 percent).

Google says that 30 percent of online converters are referred by paid clicks.


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Susan Kuchinskas

Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.

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