How Did The Clocks Going Back and Halloween Affect Search Behaviour?

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Ian Boyden takes a closer look at how the end of British Summer Time and Halloween affected paid search, with a look at plotting optimum spend times for 2016.

On 25 October British Summer Time ended for 2015. The clocks going back gave everybody an extra hour, not surprisingly this led to more people researching online earlier on a Sunday than normal and also researching later in the evening than normal. So how did this affect your paid search campaigns?

Looking at the hourly traffic levels for the Sunday when the clocks went back (25 October) there was 17% more traffic coming through between 7am and 9am compared to the previous Sunday (18 October).

People seemed to go to bed later, as we also saw 50% more people searching between 10pm and 11pm at night. However, 25 October saw 17% less people searching between 4pm and 7pm – was this down to the clocks or due to other factors such as sporting events? October 25 saw Rugby World Cup knock-out matches, IPC World Athletics Championships, and the US Grand Prix – with Lewis Hamilton winning to secure his third world title. These headline events could have been enough to encourage people away from their digital devices.Traffic graph

What Devices Were People Searching On?

Smartphones and tablets were the main devices used by consumers early in the morning and late at night. Here at ClickThrough, we predict you will start to see the clock changes having more of an impact each year as consumers look to research when they want to on mobile devices.

This is certainly one to consider next year when planning your weekend spend levels.

Did Halloween Go Bump In The Night?

Digital marketing teams around the world may be asking similar question as the annual spookfest ate into website traffic. Many digital marketing teams were left to wonder why their traffic plummeted on 31 October.

On Saturday 31 October we saw 6% less paid search traffic compared to the Friday previous. For a lot of our e-commerce clients we usually see large traffic increases on Saturday, as it is a key day for consumers to research online and buy - both on the website and in-store. But as we do not have any clients who sell Halloween merchandise, for our accounts the annual celebration  seems to have had a negative impact.

2015 Halloween traffic


In comparison, in 2014 Halloween fell on the Friday – we saw the Saturday after Halloween (1 November, 2014) see 28% more traffic day on day as people resumed their normal behaviour online.

2015 Halloween traffic

This shows the importance of having a promotional calendar set up to allow your teams to plan for seasonal events and decide when you want to maximise your paid search spend.

Dates for your PPC Diary

Make sure you optimise for these two events in 2016. Be prepared. Halloween 2016 falls on a Monday, but the clocks will go back on the day before – 30 October 2016. Think hard about when you want to push your ad spend over these two days.

Ahead of that – the clocks will spring forward again on 27 March 2016.

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