Shelby Gagnon - MSFT
Posted on 06/19/14

For children, there is nothing more depressing than seeing back-to-school shopping displays and advertisements as summer vacation kicks off.  For parents and retailers, there is nothing better. 

Back-to-school is a retailer’s dream – the 2nd largest retail shopping season of the year, behind the winter holidays – accounting for $72.5 billion spent on back-to-school and back-to-college.  Parents and others shopping for school essentials are happy to begin bargain hunting early to take advantage of special promotions all summer long.

Get ready to ace this back-to-school season with these top tips:

1.) Know when your customers begin shopping and plan accordingly.

Back-to-school is not a last minute shopping season.  In fact, nearly 75% of people begin shopping 3 weeks or more in advance.[1]

Some people begin their back-to-school shopping searches even before that; in 2013, searches on the Yahoo Bing Network peaked in the last week of July.

Many consumers will begin shopping early to comparison shop, spreading out their budgets over time as they seek the best deals and value.  A few tips to prepare:

  • Finalize back-to-school and deal specific keywords and ad copy, and ensure special seasonal promotions and deals are ready.
  • Monitor your budget like a ninja as you approach peak shopping weeks to ensure your ads still are appearing -- shopping activity peaks at the end of July and remains strong through August.

2.) Understand what your customers want (and where they want to get it).

It’s not hard to figure out the number one back-to-school item: school supplies. From notebooks to pens to laptops, school supplies are cited as the most important purchase by 87% of parents.[2] Of course, clothing is right behind – a priority for 82% of shoppers.2 Other items high on shoppers’ lists included books and video games, and surprisingly, toys!

BONUS TIP: Want to drive foot traffic to your store front?
Ad Extensions, like Location Extensions and Call Extensions, can help your customers find you quickly – putting your business address and phone number right at their fingertips.  When a customer calls a business, they’re 10 times more likely to make a purchase.[3]  Drive in-store traffic with features like store locator, click-to-directions and click-to-call for mobile searchers.

3.) Ready or not, mobile’s here!

From 2013 to 2014, back-to-school smartphone searches on the Yahoo Bing Network are projected to increase more than 200%![4]  Notably, 66% of smartphone users will get pricing information on their phones, while 55% will find a store location.[5]

With this in mind, consider crafting an ad specifically for mobile and be sure to use promotional ad copy in your mobile ads to capitalize on smartphone customers looking for deals and comparing prices.

So, as kids breathe a sigh of relief this summer break, use these three tips to help you stay at the top of the class.   Have a great back-to-school season!

NOTE: The information contained in this blog post is intended for agencies and advertisers that are self-managed or supported by Microsoft.  If you are an agency or advertiser managed by Yahoo, the details therein may not be applicable, and you are encouraged to contact your Account Representative for more information.



[1] National Retail Federation 2013 Back-to-School Survey

[2] Ibid

[3] BIA/Kelsey, 2012, Mobile Impact on Interactive Local Media: National to Local.

[4] Microsoft Internal Data Analysis: Q1 2012, Q1 2013, Owned & Operated, US; Mobile includes Lo Fi Phones and HiFi Phones, but not Tablets.

[5] Deloitte, “2013 Back to School: Making the Grade,” July 29, 2013

Tags: Mobile, seasonal insights, Vertical Insights
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