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Digital ad agency Digitas: Thanksgiving should also be known as ‘Mobile Thursday’

In the old days before smartphones and iPads, it was simply known as Thanksgiving, but now digital ad agency Digitas thinks it should also be known as “Mobile Thursday.”

Indeed, a new survey from Boston-based Digitas and Harris Interactive concludes that smartphone shopping is becoming so prevalent on Thanksgiving that the day needs to be rebranded as “Mobile Thursday” so it can assume its rightful place in the retail calendar along with such existing high holy days as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

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Interrupting Thanksgiving dinner to snap up holiday bargains might strike some traditionalists as an outrage. But the Digitas/Harris survey seems to indicate that some Americans --- and young adults in particular --- have become so adept at multitasking that they can go iPhone window-shopping while in the very act of downing turkey and pumpkin pie.

In fact, the Digitas survey comes with a warning to parents: Ban smartphones at the Thanksgiving dinner table at your own peril. If forced to choose between a holiday feast and a two-hour smartphone blackout period, a sizable fraction of young persons will opt to skip dinner. So if you want your college students to come home for the holidays, it would be wise not to lay down a no-smartphone rule at the dinner table, Digitas suggests.

To reach its conclusions, Digitas and Harris conducted an online survey earlier this month of 2,059 adults who own a smartphone or a tablet computer.

According to the results, 28 percent of survey respondents said they plan to shop on Thanksgiving. That number was even higher for respondents between the ages of 18 and 34. Roughly 40 percent of that age group indicated that they plan to use their mobile devices on Thanksgiving to do some form of holiday planning. Those activities could include making an actual purchase or gathering data for a safari to a brick-and-mortar mall on Black Friday, the day often viewed as the official start of the holiday shopping season.

“Our findings reinforce that mobile is not just another channel,” Digitas senior vice president Chia Chen said in a statement. “It’s a technology-driven cultural phenomenon that is changing how people are connecting to brands and commerce. With more consumers shopping on their devices, brands are being provided with more mobile moments to address and create impact — even during a time of turkey, football, and family.”

One Digitas client is eBay, which plans to promote its mobile deals heavily starting precisely at 5:23 p.m. Eastern time on Thanksgiving.

Why 5:23? Digitas has calculated that 5:23 p.m. is the precise instant when a big chunk of the population on the East Coast has finished dinner, clearing the way for smartphone shopping to begin in earnest.

Chris Reidy can be reached at reidy@globe.com.
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