The back to school shopping season is nearly here and consumers are creating laundry lists of supplies, electronics, and first-day looks. In fact, 67% of consumers plan on going back to school shopping this season, making it a critical advertising opportunity for your shopping app or brand. 

To give you a better idea of school shopping behaviors, spending habits and brand preferences, ironSource surveyed 5,884 US consumers via our MobileVoice® market research platform. Here’s what we found.

1. 57% of consumers use mobile apps for back to school shopping

While 23% of consumers prefer shopping from mobile apps and 39% prefer shopping in person at retailers for back to school shopping, 57% of consumers actually use mobile apps for back to school shopping. 

Essentially, consumers largely rely on mobile apps to meet their back to school shopping needs. Be sure to remind users your brand has an app touchpoint they can use to browse and make purchases for pickup or delivery - the last thing you want is for users to choose another brand because they don’t realize you have an app to shop from. 

It’s also important to start thinking about ways to optimize your in-app ad monetization strategy to ensure you’re monetizing the massive audience flocking there. For example, the offerwall is an alternative way to monetize users who may not engage with other ad units. You can offer discounts or special promotions to motivate users to engage. 

2. 60% of consumers plan to begin back to school shopping July and August

33% of consumers begin back to school shopping in August and 27% begin in July, meaning 60% of consumers plan to get their shopping done during these two critical months. While the numbers are highest in August, they’re lowest in September at 5%. 

This means that shopping advertisers have a limited time period to see the most impactful engagements and drive valuable ROI. It's critical to be intentional about when you start your campaigns - you don’t want to start them too early or too late. Keep in mind that if you don’t start your back to school campaigns early enough, you won’t have enough data to optimize before the end of August.

3. 51% of respondents shop at 2-4 retailers for back to school shopping

Over half of consumers make purchases from 2-4 retailers. With classroom supplies the top buying category followed by clothing, buyers often go to retailers that offer wide selections - 76% shop at Walmart and 69% shop at Target. 

Consumers are always going to consider multiple brands when deciding where to shop. One way to appeal to consumers is to show your broad range of product offerings in your ad creatives. This way, consumers know they can cross a few things off their list in one trip.

4. 30% of consumers plan to spend more than they did last year

While most consumers plan on spending the same as they did last year, an additional 30% indicate that they plan to spend more than last year. To be more specific, 57% of consumers spend about $50-$150 on back to school shopping. 

As consumers start getting excited for the new school year, an increase in projected spending this year is a big opportunity for advertisers looking to drive more business from back to school shopping - increased spending by consumers means you can afford to increase budgets, to maximize ROI. If you haven’t focused on back to school before, it’s a great year to think about developing a back to school advertising strategy.

5. 37% of respondents are likely to be influenced by rewarded ads

Consumers indicate that rewarded ads influence their back to school purchase decisions. In fact, 37% of respondents are likely to be influenced by rewarded ads. 

This makes rewarded ads (in-app, often in-game, ad units that offer users a reward in exchange for opting-in to interact with an ad) an effective way to educate your audience on your back to school offerings. 

Today, rewarded ads are most often found in games, but that doesn't stop brands from advertising with them. After all,  many understand that 'everyone is a gamer.’ The introduction of new game genres, such as casual games or puzzle games, has penetrated the market even deeper, attracting a high female representation in recent years, for example. 

Even more so, because rewarded ads offer a clear value exchange, consumers will have a positive perception of your brand and be more likely to engage. The best part of rewarded ads is that you only have to pay for the ad when the user watches the whole thing.

6. 32% of respondents say coupons/deals are the biggest incentive to purchase

Coupons and deals come in first place for reasons why consumers make a decision to purchase, with 32% of consumers saying they heavily influence their purchase decisions. Following that, 25% of consumers say proximity to location is the biggest incentive and 13% say limited time offers have the biggest influence. 

Offering consumers a coupon or deal through your ads is a great way to motivate them to complete their holiday shopping with your brand. For example, you can give users a code to get 10% off a certain notebook or binder. You could even give consumers a discount for proving their attendance at the school in the district. 


With back to school shopping in full swing, it’s the perfect time to start tailoring your ad experiences to your audiences heading back to the classroom. These findings are here to help you optimize your back to school strategy from the types of ads you’re running to the optimal time period to run them. 


Leveraging MobileVoice®, ironSources' market research solution, insights were collected from consumers through opt-in surveys across thousands of mobile apps within MobileVoice®

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