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Atlas Institute’s Seventh Annual Holiday Online Shopping Report Reveals Consumer Behavior and Advertiser Insights


Today Microsoft Corp. unveiled the Atlas Institute’s Seventh Annual Holiday Online Shopping Report, which analyzes consumers’ online shopping behavior in this peak shopping season. The 2006–2007 Atlas Holiday Online Shopping Report is available at

By tracking online sales volumes and online ad consumption over the 2006 holiday period, the report highlights the “online crush” as an intense period of purchasing that begins the day after Thanksgiving and peaks on Cyber Monday, which typically occurs two Mondays before Christmas. Concerns about gifts arriving on time for Christmas predictably turn Cyber Monday into a psychological deadline for many online shoppers. This year’s report unveils the fact that although online purchases decrease rapidly after Cyber Monday, the largest increases in Web usage and the highest consumption of online ads occur as the holiday shopping frenzy shifts offline. This period, described as the “offline rush,” highlights the role the Internet plays in traditional brick-and-mortar retail sales during the holiday shopping season.

According to the report, the number of consumers online grows by 10 percent during the offline rush as people gather information about pending purchases that are eventually made in stores. That increase in Web traffic translates to heightened opportunities for advertisers. For example, during last year’s offline rush between Cyber Monday and Christmas Day, the rate of online ad consumption increased by 18 percent.

“Although online sales fall predictably after Cyber Monday, our study reveals that the Web continues to fuel offline holiday sales,” said Young-Bean Song, vice president of Analytics at the Atlas Institute.

The report suggests that advertisers adjust their online ad messaging to reflect the mental shift in purchasing decisions that occurs during the offline rush. Specific adjustments might include alleviating shipping concerns with guaranteed delivery dates, highlighting the availability of in-store pickup, and promoting last-minute deals on gifts.

“There is a significant opportunity for online advertisers to increase their sales during this time frame by altering their messages and the time frame in which they are delivered,” Song said.

The report also reiterates that it is important for advertisers to maintain a solid online presence throughout the holiday season — even before Cyber Monday. Mondays and Tuesdays continue to be the busiest online shopping days during the holiday season, and prime online transaction hours occur between noon and 4 p.m. EST.

“For the past seven years, we have seen the continued integration between online and offline buying behavior,” Song said. “The role online advertising has on offline sales is never more obvious than during the offline rush.”

For this year’s report, the Atlas Institute analyzed transaction data from Nov. 20, 2006, through Jan. 31, 2007. The data represents 670 billion impressions and 193 million actions across more than 180 companies whose online campaigns are managed by using the Atlas Digital Marketing Suite. The measure of activity is via an index where a value of 100 indicates a day that had average online shopping activity for the six-month period from September 2006 through February 2007.


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