What The Data Says About How We Spent Christmas Morning

The kids woke up, the parents got called out of bed and for a few hours, shockingly, it looks like the family put down their mobiles on Christmas morning, according to data from Mixpanel, a mobile and web analytics company.

Welcome to the data-driven Christmas. A day that can be tracked in detail by mining the data on our phones and tablets. As proven by Mixpanel, data analytics can now tell when we open our presents, take a break and then once again immerse ourselves in our apps.

But tracking the data through mobile devices is no different in many ways to other media. For years, marketers have known the habits of people on Christmas Day. They could track what people did through the way we listened to the radio or watched television. But the difference now is the list of items in our homes that can be tracked. And the list will only grow as wearables and other things transmit data of their own.

For now, let’s look at what Mixpanel learned about us this Christmas. The company analyzed 1.2 billion mobile “actions” on Christmas Day, which is a 66 percent increase over last Christmas.  All told, 90 percent of activity was generated on mobile apps.


It looks like people started opening presents at about 10:30 a.m. across all time zones. That’s when there was a dip in data traffic. A spike came at noon and by 2:30 p.m. folks were back in force with their heads down in their devices.


As the day progressed, 58 percent of traffic was coming from gaming apps. A mere 11 percent of traffic came from social networks. The theory is that kids went on to play games while the adults in the house documented the mayhem of the morning. Mixpanel states that they have more customers in the gaming vertical than in the social space, which could influence or skew their results.

In all, about 25 percent of all data came from tablets, up from Thanksgiving, which showed 15 percent of activity coming from the mobile devices.


It’s unquestionable that iOS is leading over Android when it comes to holiday shopping. But it’s what can be learned about people’s shopping behaviors that the marketers want most. The IBM holiday benchmark data, for example, shows that people who use tablets spend more than those who use their smartphones. Tablets accounted for 19.4 percent of all online sales compared to smartphones, which accounted for 9.3 percent. Tablet users also averaged $95.61 per order, versus smartphone users, who averaged $85.11 per order.

The more interesting angle is about the growing list of devices that marketers can track. The table, the chair or the thermostat will all be tracked. But it’s the variation in data activity that interests Ryan Spraetz, co-founder and chief product officer at Keen IO, which provides custom analytics based upon data from different sources such as an iPad or any other device.

The usage curves will look different for thermometers versus mobile devices, Spraetz tells me. It’s in that difference and the correlations in the data analytics that will let us know when Dad sits on the couch with the embedded sensors and checks the sports scores on his shiny new iPad.

(Feature image via Flickr)