Insights Into PPC Traffic From “Sofa Sunday” In The UK


On December 16th, The Drum magazine highlighted a new “day” called Sofa Sunday.

“Sofa Sunday” was named for the expectation that millions of people would shop using their smartphones on the Sunday that follows Black Friday. The prediction was that browsing from m-commerce would be highest between 9:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. that day. Did the prediction match the reality?

What Happened To Mobile Traffic On Sunday 30th November?

Through grouping together data from some large online retail clients in the UK, I was able to see some top-level data on trends.

As you can see from the chart below, impressions were dominant from computers for the most part of the day and peaked at around 8:00 p.m. with mobile taking over as the lead impression generator from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., exactly as predicted.

Though mobile impressions did heavily drop at 11:00 p.m., they remained double those of computers!

Impressions sample 30th nov

Though mobile was a clear winner toward the end of the day in terms of impressions generated, it was a different story when I came to look at clicks from the retail client campaigns. As seen from the chart below, tablet traffic was the most dominant toward the latter part of the day.

Clicks sample 30th Nov

Click-through rate was much stronger for tablets for the selection of accounts that I analyzed. This again shows that tablets are becoming ever popular for browsing. Though we can’t bid differently for tablets, everyone should be thinking about the user experience for visitors that land on a site from a tablet device.

Of course, the data above is from a sample of clients, so there could be outliers affecting that data.

The chart below hones in on one particular client in the fashion industry to show what happened to its traffic on Sofa Sunday.

This mostly follows the same trend when it comes to tablets, but shows how many more people were clicking through to ads from mobile devices than computers from earlier on in the day.

Despite mobile impressions not overtaking computers until 8:00 p.m. for this particular retailer, clicks became stronger from mobile from 6:00 p.m., which is ahead of the sample curve above.

Fashion retailer clicks 30th nov

I thought it would also be interesting to compare this same fashion retailer year-on-year to show how the landscape has changed over time.

Looking at the data below for the Sunday that preceded Cyber Monday last year, you can see it paints a completely different picture. Though the peak of incoming traffic remained between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m., computers brought in the majority of traffic at all hours.

Fashion retailer clicks 1st December 2013

A simpler version of this year-on-year data is shown below to summarize.

YoY Sofa Sunday Impressions

This just shows how much things have changed in just one year and how important it is to have a responsive mobile and tablet site to accommodate for this change in browsing behavior.

Did We See A Similar Pattern For Conversions?

Not only was 8:00-9:00 p.m. the most popular time of the day for impressions and clicks, this hour also saw the most conversions coming in from all devices!

Computers still stole the show in terms of volume of conversions coming in, but this year, tablets also produced a much higher volume of conversions.

Sales from sample of online retailers

Mobile conversion volumes increased toward the end of the day, but the results overall lean more toward mobile still being utilized for browsing, as conversion rates were lower than on other devices.

Is This Trend Different From Any Other Sunday?

It’s pretty obvious that this is not an out-of-the-blue trend; in general, people will be browsing from their mobiles more in the evenings as they settle down on the sofa.

I took a look at the same retail client we’ve been looking at in previous datasets to see what happened to its data on the four Sundays that preceded Sofa Sunday (November 2, 9, 16 and 23) compared to Sofa Sunday.

Though the trends are broadly similar, you can see that between 8:00-10:00 p.m., mobile overtook computer traffic more on Sofa Sunday, giving us further insight into why it’s so important to have a presence on mobile and to make sure your site is easily shoppable from mobiles.

Fashion retailer impressions 2014

Impressions from a fashion retailer sunday 30th nov

What To Take From This Data

  • Increase bids for mobile during key hours
  • Make sure you have full impression share during these key hours and have enough of your daily budget left for the end of the day
  • Be sure to have mobile-specific ads and even consider a mobile-specific promotion as this traffic is predicted to grow further year-on-year
  • You should also be looking at your estimated total conversions within AdWords to see if Google thinks that people who came in on one device actually purchased on another; this metric is still too-often overlooked
  • Make sure to prepare a “Sofa Sunday” strategy for next year!
  • Adjust your site to become responsive for tablets and mobiles if you haven’t already

On my wishlist for next year is the ability to see cross-device conversions within AdWords rather than just estimated total conversions. Hopefully, with the advances in technology and Google’s acquisition of Adometry, we might see some more features being added here in the future!

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