Google, YouTube See Uptick in 2014 Back-to-School Search Traffic

As students and teachers across the country return to the three Rs, Google says back-to-school searches have grown 45 percent year-over-year through August 15 and the season is lasting longer than ever – even becoming the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season.

Google says back-to-school searches started as early as May and peaked in August. What’s more, the peak lasted one to two weeks longer than it did last year and interest remains high. According to Google, retailers like Walmart and Staples are likely spurring this early interest with mid-summer deals because searches for “back to school sales” spiked sooner and are trending higher than they did in previous years.

Not surprisingly, consumers are also shopping more on mobile devices. According to Google, so far in August, 40 percent of back-to-school searches were on mobile, which is up 25 percent from last year.

To decide what to bring to bring with them, college students are turning to so-called haul videos on YouTube in growing numbers. Google says these videos, which feature shoppers with their purchases, started trending a few years ago and searches for “back to school haul” on YouTube are up 70 percent this year, while searches for “dorm hauls” on YouTube increased more than two times in the first 10 days of August year-over-year.

Another source of inspiration for college students is dorm tour videos with “dorm tour” searches on YouTube up 1.7 times in August 2014 versus August 2013. 

Google also says young DIYers are looking for cheap, clever ways to decorate their dorms and are increasingly using search to find them. In fact, “dorm decor” searches on Google are up 37 percent year-over-year and Google has seen 30 percent year-over-year growth in dorm-related searches for Dormify, Apartment Therapy, BuzzFeed, HGTV, Seventeen, and Pinterest.

In addition, Google notes consumers searching for “dorm” are also searching for “mobile” more than “computer” or “tablet,” which is a big shift from four years ago.

So what does this mean for advertisers?

Per Google, since back to school is a “great bellwether of trends,” advertisers need to keep campaigns going strong and adapt their holiday plans based on what they learn during the back-to-school season. Advertisers must also always think about mobile and look to popular YouTube creators as potential spokespeople. In addition, advertisers should target the DIYer with tips and tricks integrating their products, Google says.

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