Media Planning & Buying

What Marketers Can Learn From Amazon’s Black Friday Performance

November 30, 2017

Coming into Black Friday this year, expectations were somewhat grim. Retailers have been rapidly extending discounting season to include much of November and December, and there were concerns that consumers would be either overwhelmed with deals, or simply lose the urgency. These concerns didn’t prove accurate, as sales across Thanksgiving and Black Friday were up 17.9% over last year, setting new records as consumers flocked to deals. Noticeably, there have been changes in how consumers are shopping, though, and how brands can make certain they’re capturing as many of the consumers across the weekend as possible. Brands should be mindful of the content they’re creating and make sure they’re putting the right messaging in front of the consumer, in the right places, to drive conversion.


The Right Ecommerce Balance

For the first year, mobile sales have managed to live up to their mindshare. According to Adobe Analytics, 60% of retail visits and 46% of spending came from mobile devices. Last year, less than 30% of spending came from mobile devices. With this growth rate, it’s likely that mobile spending grows larger than desktop spending in 2018. However, on Cyber Monday, only 47% of visits and 33% of revenue came from mobile devices. It seems people are browsing while on mobile while off from work and out with family, but doing their shopping from desktop devices while at work on Monday. Brands can take advantage of this by focusing their spend on mobile friendly ad units on Amazon during the week of Black Friday and diving deep into the Amazon app. Come Monday, the some of the spend should shift from the app to units spread around

Follow Amazon’s Lead

Amazon remains the dominant e-commerce destination, as it seized upwards of 50% of Black Friday sales, according to GBH Insights. Brands can learn from Amazon’s messaging and how it drove sales across its platform. As always, Amazon’s most prominent advertising was dominated by Amazon’s own ads, as Amazon prioritizes its own goods and categories in its best placements. These ads were all carefully tailored to the Friday and Monday shopping holidays, with very distinct holiday messaging and specific discount call-outs. The ads called out whether a product was $50 off, or whether a category featured deals up to 30% off, complete with holiday imagery. By contrast, few brands went to the effort of tailoring their Amazon ads with explicit holiday messaging. Brands were often running generic ads over holiday ads, and rarely drawing attention to the size of their discounts. As Amazon’s ads and platform sales reflect, Black Friday shopping behavor is driven by deals. Next year, brands should build their ad into their creative and make certain they call out their discount directly within the ad itself. Don’t make the consumer click through to the PDP to see the deal, entice them to click through because of the deal.

Get in the Holiday Spirit  

Given how dominant Amazon is, having captured 37% of the five day holiday period in 2016 and 36% in 2015, it was surprising to see how much more effort brands appeared to spend on their own brand site’s content over Amazon’s. For instance, Neutrogena ran several ads on Amazon, all of which were seasonally generic., however, featured custom creative for the holiday weekend. Similarly, one of the top deals across the weekend was for the Fitbit Charge 2, which was discounted from $149 to $99 on several sites. Creative on the Amazon Product Detail Page remained static, while banner ads lacked the call to action of the deal., however, had custom creative and a great deal of information regarding the deal. This past Halloween, several cosmetics companies experienced a surge in sales by updating their pages to incorporate content relevant to Halloween. Knowing the conversion a simple seasonal imagery update can generate, it was surprising to see so few brands do the same for Black Friday. Creating new and custom content can be costly, but can create a real uptick in conversion. Brands should develop this content ahead of time and produce it alongside the creative they’re putting on their sites to reduce costs and keep the brand holiday theme across channels.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday remain a growing, and powerful, weekend for brands, and require a powerful advertising strategy to match. Sales were up considerably, but brands are still vying against each other for consumer’s attention. Next year, or even more immediately for 2018’s major shopping holidays, marketers should create custom content for the holiday both on Amazon, as well as their own site, emphasize the deal in ad creative and balance their placements to reflect modern consumer purchasing behaviors. If Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2017 are any indication, the shopping power of this holiday weekend is only likely to grow more, as is the share and attention being captured by Amazon.