It should come as no surprise that Black Friday and Cyber Monday continue to serve as the biggest shopping days of the year.

By now, there’s a few things you can count on – mobile shopping also known as “shopping from your couch” continues to grow in popularity and CPCs are on the rise as more brands compete for space in the SERP.

But what sets 2017 apart from previous Black Friday and Cyber Mondays?

For starters – there’s a new retail giant disrupting the SERP running Google PLAs against existing Google Shopping advertisers and we think you might recognize the name – Amazon.

In the following blog post, we will not only take a look at how Amazon entering the SERP impacted sales for other Google Shopping advertisers but we will also dive into a variety of questions we’ve received from our readers including:

  • How did smaller retailers hold up against big box/ big name retailers?
  • Is the “longer shopping cycle” having an impact on Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales?
  • Which discounts or retail promotion strategies drove the best performance?

 

What Happened on Black Friday / Cyber Monday 2017?

According to Adobe’s 2017 online shopping data, Cyber Monday hit a new record as the largest online sales day in U.S. history with $6.59 billion.

In comparison, Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day brought in $5.03 billion and $2.87 billion in revenue respectively.

Top selling items on Cyber Monday included:

  • Nintendo Switch
  • PJ Masks and Hatchimals & Colleggtibles figurines
  • Apple AirPods
  • Streaming devices like Google Chromecast and Roku
  • Super Mario Odyssey video game

The holiday shopping season so far (November 1 to 27) drove a total of $50 billion in online revenue, a 16.8 percent increase and Adobe predicts this will be the first-ever holiday season to break $100 billion in online sales.

CPC Strategy on Black Friday & Cyber Monday:

While we can take a look at Google Shopping Black Friday and Cyber Monday trends from an overall perspective, we also wanted to dive into the numbers and see how they compared year-over-year (YoY).

We looked at CPC Strategy clients that we managed between 2016 and 2017, and compared their YoY numbers to see how they held up over the holiday weekend.

Our analysis aggregates data from specific days in 2016 and 2017.

The comparable dates in 2016 are 11/14/16 through 11/28/16, while the dates taken into account this year are 11/13/17 through 11/27/17. These dates begin two weeks prior (and include) Cyber Monday.

PPC Experts Chime in:

We also spoke with Josh Brisco, Senior Manager, Retail Search Operations at CPC Strategy to get his take on how the holiday weekend panned out.

Q. How did smaller retailers hold up against big box / big name retailers?

Electronics and apparel typically do well during the Google Shopping Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend, and this year was no different. However, our team did notice spikes in less popular verticals this year as well.

“It wasn’t so much large vs. small retailers, instead it was more niche vs. main stream purchases.”

“The niche-type of clients tended to do well whereas those selling more of a commodity (or advertising a popular brand or item) had it particularly difficult this year,” Brisco said.

According to our experts, this is direct result of advertisers getting better and better at optimizing their PPC strategy.

“Obviously the big box retailers always play a large role in Black Friday and Cyber Monday but Amazon was definitely a new addition to that mix as well,” Brisco said.

Q. How did Amazon entering the SERP impact sales for other Google Shopping advertisers?

“I think it’s safe to say we definitely felt the effects of Amazon’s presence in the Shopping space as we saw costs rise disproportionately to revenue, and Amazon had 55% of all ecommerce during Black Friday / Cyber Monday,” Brisco said.

“While a huge player like Amazon is undoubtedly going to intensify the competitive landscape, our clients were well-positioned strategically in 2017 as a direct result of our ISO campaign strategies and our ability to hone in on specific search terms and items within our retailers’ catalogs.”

CASE STUDY: ISO™ Campaigns Increases Google Shopping Revenue by +59%

This was especially true for one of our retailers, whose flagship brand is a high end handbag manufacturer.

According to Michael Nefalar, Retail Search Manager at CPC Strategy we were able to build an ISO Campaign for this flagship brand as well as expand further out into device segmentation (desktop, mobile, tablet).

As seen in the data below, from 2016 to 2017  (Black Friday through Cyber Monday) there was a 54.55% increase in conversions and a 43.19% increase in total conversion value as a direct result of this segmentation strategy:

 

 

“Looking at year over year performance, we were able to grow order volume and revenue while reducing wasteful traffic. This has been a real win for the client because of that fact that Amazon, Saks on Fifth and other competitors have really taken more of the space,” Nefalar said.

More on ISO Campaigns:

ISO campaigns™ leverage priority settings and negative keywords to isolate and allocate more aggressive bids and budget to certain high value searches.

This advanced strategy gives advertisers more control over which search queries their products show up for. It also allows them to isolate and dedicate budget to search queries that historically convert well.

It’s similar to how we think of text ad campaigns. With text ads, we can choose to set up our campaigns based on exact searches and bid higher and with more confidence because we know these are exact searches we want to go after.

With ISO campaigns™, although we can’t target keywords directly, we can leverage negative keyword lists in an alternative campaign and then utilize the priority settings so that searches funnel into the right campaign.

Q. Are “extended shopping discount” days having an impact on Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales?

This year, Cyber Monday sales beat out Black Friday sales online. But because shoppers are often able to get the same deals from Thanksgiving all the way through Cyber Week, our experts predict this “extended shopping period”  trend will continue.

“Across the board, we saw that Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were generally weaker days, more so than ever this year,” Brisco said. “And although Black Friday was pretty big for us, the year over year trend is that Cyber Monday is bigger and this year proved to be no different.”

“But what we did see this year, that was a departure from previous years – is that the performance throughout the weekend was much better, largely because Black Friday deals are now being extended throughout the weekend and into Cyber Week.”

“I do get the sense that most retailers have shifted or will eventually shift their Black Friday discounts throughout Cyber Week and even into the end of the month.”

“In some cases, weekend sales were actually better than Black Friday largely because people know that even if they don’t find what they are looking for at Brick and Mortars on Friday, they will still have a chance to make purchases throughout the weekend.”

Q. Any particular verticals that performed well in 2017?

Verticals with significant search volume throughout the weekend included:

  • Footwear
  • Athletic Shoes
  • Sleepwear
  • Outerwear

According to Eliza Cuevas, Retail Search Manager at CPC Strategy categories such as “Baby Care” also performed particularly well throughout the weekend, even without the help of discounts or special promotions.

“We saw huge gains. It was crazy to see how much volume there was in an industry that does not provide any discounts due to enforcing MAP,” she said.

 

 

Q. Which discounts or retail promotion strategies drove the best performance?

As we mentioned, with more big box retailers joining Google Shopping – the competition has increase. Now more than ever marketers and retailers are savvy on Google’s platform and know how to bid aggressively – as a result we’ve seen an increase in short tail keywords, and the use of RLSAAuction Insights and countdown features.

According to Brisco, although campaign types such as “Showcase Shopping Ads” tend not to perform as well in terms of conversions they can still serve as a useful top of the funnel tool to improve impressions and brand visibility.

As retailers finish out the holiday season it is important to:

  • Stay aggressive for the next two weeks (or up until guaranteed ship date). Although ROI might not be that good, traffic is still on the rise.
  • If you can run a promotion, the best time to do it will be throughout Cyber week as shoppers finish up their last minute purchases.

For more on Google Shopping Black Friday & Cyber Monday, email tara@cpcstrategy.com

 

The Google Shopping Guide: 2017 Edition

Next-Level Implementations in 2017 for Advertisers on Google
 

About the AuthorTara graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.S. in Journalism / Business. Her passion for creative publishing and quality reporting landed her work opportunities at several companies in Massachusetts, New York and California. She is a leading voice behind CPC Strategy’s Blog. See all posts by this author here.