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School is Back. Let the Tech Giants Fight.

Just like that. It’s September and summer is over.  Back to school shopping and holiday seasons here we come. Parents and children from all around the US have descended upon the stationary sections in local department stores gearing up for the new year.  Back-to-School shopping spending this year has been projected to be big.  So big in fact that an estimated $75 billion this year will be spent in the next couple of months, according to the National Retail Federation. Mobile advertising will be at the epicenter of the spending along with the big three, Google, Amazon and Facebook, all vying for a piece of the pie.

Armed with smart phones and on the search for deals, shoppers are finding bargains 35% more on their hand held device this year than last.  More specifically, according to Media Post, Google reported that 3 out of 5 searches for back-to-school were via mobile.   This has caused search rankings on Google to soar for back-to-school clothing and supply retailers.  While department and discount stores are still the most popular options, according to Google even higher end brands like Victoria’s Secret PINK and Birkenstock have experienced an increase of 1000% for online searches.  The increase in mobile is also felt offline as these same consumers are actually visiting brick-and-mortar stores over 20% more than last year.  This is allowing retailers like Old Navy and GAP who have a large online presence to also reap the benefits of increased mobile search activity among their target back-to-school audience in-store.

While increased mobile use has spelled good news for these types of retailers, from Google’s point of view it has allowed other mobile friendly players like Amazon and Facebook join the advertising race.  Both platforms have robust targeting capabilities to serve relevant ads to their users, making searching for products easier for the consumer and advertising more effective for the brand.  With easy to use interfaces, click to buy, and great content, it’s not crazy to say one day the average consumer will be starting and completing every purchase exclusively through Amazon or Facebook.  Furthermore, advertisers may feel the need to shift their advertising dollars away from Google in favor of the others.

Facebook has just surpassed 1 billion users and Amazon is slowly reaching 300 million. With growing user bases and easy to use platforms, one can understand why both competitors have been able to join the product search party; however, Google’s time of rule is not up just yet. One billion Gmail users and 3.5 billion searches a day aren’t going away any time soon, but it will be interesting to watch how Google combats the shifting search trends. Just “Facebook It” hasn’t caught on just yet.

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