How online search paid off for brands on Valentine’s Day

In this guest post, Alice Almeida from Hitwise shares insights into consumers' online search habits on Valentine's Day to reveal how brands can use search data to boost ROI.

Valentine’s Day is the second biggest dining day of the year (according to restaurant booking site, Dimmi) behind Mother’s Day.

alice almeida- hitwise

A day when the stress to display your affection means spending money on visible displays of love such as roses, jewellery, dinner and gifts. But the 6:00pm panic doesn’t exist only at the florists; there is panic online too…

Hitwise has the ability to look at search terms by the hour in order to create a fascinating picture of what really goes on online – and people’s minds – on the most romantic day of the year.

As you can see from the below chart, on Valentine’s Day search for ‘flowers’ starts peaking at 9:00am, holds its strength throughout the day, dipping only slightly at 5:00pm, only to increase frantically at 6:00pm, the exact time I witnessed florists being overloaded by the masses.

Comparing it with last Tuesday February 7 highlights the vast difference between a normal day and Valentines, with flower searches barely registering strong enough numbers for many hours of a normal day.flowers-search-clicks-by-hour

But people didn’t turn to search just to seek out flowers. It seemed that many struggled to find the right words for their loved one (25% of all ‘valentines’ searches were to seek out romantic ‘content’) so went to search engines, mainly Google, for help (thank you, Google).

valentines-day-search-themes-1Memes, quotes and poems were the most popular terms used in those seeking out prewritten words of love and affection… The good old Australian sense of humour was well and truly alive, with searches including the word ‘funny’ being used heavily.

But it wasn’t all about the lovers on Tuesday. Searches for hilarious anti-Valentine’s Day memes held 21% of all Valentine’s searches – clearly coming from those who are either single, or completely against the day (like my husband…) BUT let’s not get stuck on this group. The day is all about love, right?

So what brands benefited the most from Valentine’s Day searches?


Although flowers clearly won the day, many Australians wanted to do something differed so sought out an experience gift via Red Balloon, which achieved the highest search share within the Flowers & Gift category. But florists held their own on Valentine’s Day, with 50% of the top 30 sites being florists, in comparison to 23% from the previous Tuesday.

So when does all the Valentine’s excitement start for Australians? It seems the hype starts on Feb 1 and increases every single day after then, with different themes emerging from the searches. valentines-search-variations

By looking at these search themes, it suggests that people buying for their male partner are much more organised when it comes to Valentine’s Day – searching for ‘Gifts for him’ in early Feb. ‘When is…’ searches occur early in February and then again on the 13th.

People looking at planning something special tend to research it almost a week out from Valentine’s.

So how does it benefit marketers?

By showcasing when the interest starts and by understanding what consumers are seeking, we can help marketers tailor their advertising and content to the most effective moment. Given restaurant searches are peaking on and around the 9th, prior to this would be prime opportunity to lure loved-up couples into your venue.

With the abundance of data available these days there is ample opportunity to reach consumers before they make a decision.

And for brands out there wanting to reach the anti-Valentine’s Day audience, there’s plenty of them!

Alice Almeida is a manager of innovation and insights, APAC at Hitwise 


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