Back to School Shopping is Now. Holiday is Next.


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If you’re a digital marketer, odds are you’re in the middle of executing your back-to-school (BTS) strategy and about to start planning for the holiday season. We work with many retail brands and their agencies, and understand the importance of capitalizing on this short but sizable shopping season.

2017 is set to represent a milestone in BTS retail spending at $857 billion, an increase of more than 10 percent over last year’s $758 billion (eMarketer and NRF). So, let’s cut to the chase and take a deeper dive into BTS shopping trends and what behaviors marketers should anticipate for 2017. How do these trends apply to year-round shopping opportunities for local marketers?


This BTS season, data continues to show that consumers are researching, price comparing, and transacting across various devices and in-store. However, parents with children in grades K-12 plan to carry out the majority of their BTS shopping in physical stores (Bizrate Back-To-School 2017 Survey). NRF’s back-to-school spending survey reinforces this trend. Over half of shoppers plan to go to some kind of brick-and-mortar store – whether it’s a department store, discount or clothing store.

Where Consumers Plan to Shop for Back-to-School

As in-store continues to drive the bus when it comes to BTS shopping, online shopping via mobile and desktop is catching up. Consumers are using their mobile phones to purchase while at home and to research or price compare in-store. According to Business Insider, mobile is used “mostly for deal-seeking, as 58% use it to compare prices and 39% use it to download coupons while in the store.” For parents and students that are short on time, online shopping offers convenience to research and purchase items that are specific to their needs.

Now it’s more important than ever to have an omnichannel programmatic strategy in place so you can successfully reach shoppers in the moment that matters, regardless of the channel being used. offers a cross-channel platform that delivers audience-based media buying across all device types and formats, allowing marketers to place the right ad in front of the right person at the right time.


According to Deloitte’s 2017 BTS Survey, in-store purchases still dominate BTS shopping, but many consumers are influenced by targeted online promotions. Nearly 90% of parents decide where to shop based on mobile promotions (Retale).

For advertisers with a physical location, attributing proven in-store traffic driven by mobile ad campaigns is understandably a priority. It’s important to work with a cross-channel programmatic platform to help you quantify the impact of mobile advertising in driving consumers to specific locations. With, marketers are able to geo-fence with conversion zones to optimize and report on online-to-offline traffic.

Check out this case study on how to increase store traffic and attribute online-to-offline conversions.


As a result of different school start dates across the country, shopping trends also vary greatly by regional location with the highest average spent $554 (44% of all BTS spend) in the south region. (Deloitte).

Since nomenclature, local preferences, and buying habits vary from city to city across the country, how do marketers successfully target national campaigns with highly localized audiences? It’s important to find a programmatic partner that can optimize audiences to local needs and deliver customize creative for different locations. delivers improved performance compared to programmatic platforms that use pre-packaged segments and target nationally.


The BTS season is the second biggest shopping event of the year on the retail calendar after the winter holidays. The 2017 holiday season is right around the corner and begins as early as October in many markets. Planning ahead and setting up proper campaign goals and the right mix of targeting tactics takes time. For more information on how can help you prepare for the season ahead, contact your Account Representative or email us a .