Social media is top of class for ‘back to school’ ads as almost nine in 10 consumers plan to shop online

Consumers prefer to see ‘back to school’ ads on social media compared to other channels, but they’re more likely to go the route of retail or e-commerce to shop for the new term.

Social media is the place to advertise back-to-school products, says new research, with almost six in 10 shoppers for the new term saying they preferred to see ads for these products on social channels.

Just under half prefer display ads, while only 20% named audio as a preferred online advertising channel.

The research from Integral Ad Science surveyed more than 1,000 US students and parents to get a view of their back-to-school shopping habits and how digital advertising influences decisions.

It found that almost nine in 10 consumers were planning to do at least some of their back-to-school shopping online. While almost half said they would be following their school’s recommendations for products, the survey also found that respondents would use online content, with 36% saying they would look to product reviews to assist with their purchasing decision and 31% consulting buying guides or ‘best of’ lists.

Social media tops content consumption, but buys happen through retail

The online content that respondents looked to was primarily on social media, with 72% of shoppers saying they turned to social platforms for back-to-school related content, and 51% agreed that social media ads were helpful, followed by online ads (43%) and research through search engines (39%).

For purchasing products, 64% said they would go through brand or retailer sites, followed by 56% saying they would use e-commerce sites. Less than four in 10 (38%) said they would buy through social media platforms.

The report also highlighted the role of relevance in back-to-school advertising. More than nine in 10 shoppers said it is important that the ads they see are relevant to content they are viewing, and 67% said they were more likely to remember an ad when placed in this context.

Meanwhile, more than six in 10 back-to-school consumers agreed that they would take advantage of earlier sales events and promotions, and 45% said they still intended to buy products that support hybrid or remote schooling.