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Late Night Searches Are Among Key Black Friday Shopping Trends

It’s not just Christmas decorations hitting the stores earlier. Holiday shopping behaviors have shown a tendency in recent years to shift to much earlier times than they ever did before the rise of the internet and ecommerce. But not only are consumers shopping sooner, but they are also shopping later – later in the day, that is.

At the Inside AdWords blog, Google and its Holiday Shopper Intentions research partner Ipsos MediaCT found an interesting detail about those holiday consumers. Data from Google Shopping found one-third of shopping searches take place between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.

For ecommerce pros who engage in online advertising, particularly those who increase their budgets to help reach holiday shoppers, this presents a compelling data point. One of the features available for advertisers at AdWords permits custom ad scheduling. This lets the advertiser designate certain hours or days for their ads to be available.

Doing so allows for better control of one’s advertising budget. However, such advertisers may want to consider those night owl searchers, at minimum for the Black Friday / Cyber Monday period.

For someone running the default AdWords standard delivery option, Google’s help topic said this approach aims to distribute one’s ad budget as evenly as possible over an entire day. But if an online seller is seeing data showing interest from late night searchers, when their ad budget may already be depleted for the day, the seller is probably missing opportunities to get ads in front of those potential customers.

This is where custom ad scheduling comes into play. Should a seller wish to try some late night AdWords campaigning during the time leading to Black Friday, the Ad Schedule section allows one to set times and days for those ads to appear.

The one-day Black Friday of years past changed over time as more shopping options became available. Google said retailers are making those Black Friday promotions a month-long event. That gives online sellers a chance to cage those early bird shoppers, more than half of whom start researching holiday purchases before Thanksgiving, and 26 percent starting before Halloween.

The virtual equivalent of window shopping, looking into the pages and images on websites, has also evolved over time. Google readily points out its YouTube activity related to shopping content. One may or may not have heard of the “haul” video, showing off someone’s latest purchases, but it’s a concept sellers may want to embrace.

Google said these haul videos spike during key shopping events; unsurprisingly, Black Friday weekend is the peak. From January 2013 through September 2014, views of haul videos exceeded 1.1 billion, a trend that Google found is on the rise year over year.

With this rise, one may assume that the video trend is moving toward a norm, where picky shoppers with disposable income expect such content to be available in addition to all the other product details they crave. Even the smallest online sellers might find themselves needing to meet this demand too.

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David A Utter
David A Utter
David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. You can find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.