Study: Adjust Holiday Ad Campaigns for Online Crunch, Offline Rush

Consumers head to the Web even after the peak online shopping day, known as Cyber Monday, representing an opportunity for online advertisers to reach new shopping prospects. That’s one of the key findings from the seventh annual “Holiday Online Shopping Report: 2006-2007” released by Atlas Institute, now part of Microsoft.

Holiday ad campaigns aimed at consumers during peak online activity, which Atlas refers to as the “online crush,” can miss a significant volume of online traffic after the crush in a period Atlas calls the “offline rush.” That latter period refers to the two weeks before Christmas when consumers rely on the Web to research purchases, check stock at local stores, and compare prices.

“The online experience is still an integral part of the shopping experience, even with purchase behavior shifting offline to stores,” said Young-Bean Song, VP of analytics at the Atlas Institute.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, online usage is 10 percent higher than other times of the year, and the average number of ads a consumer views also increases by 10 percent. The study finds the increase suggests “both the existing base of online shoppers prior to the holidays and new online prospects increased their online use during the holidays.”

While offline shopping peaks on the weekend, online it peaks on Mondays and Tuesdays, typically between noon and 4 p.m. Eastern Time, the report said. This year, the busiest online shopping day, called Cyber Monday (define), is expected to occur Dec. 12. “It may be worth considering paying a premium for space on Mondays and Tuesdays, placements during the middle of the day, fixed one-day placements or high-impact rich media,” Atlas recommended.

After Cyber Monday, the creative can be tweaked. Advertisers, for example, can offer guaranteed shipping or alert shoppers to in-store pickups. “Make sure your messaging adjusts to the psychological deadline shoppers have during the season,” advised Song. “Stress key points on shipping, and getting gifts on time.”

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