There is no doubt that even with some retailers choosing to opt out of the Black Friday mayhem it has still firmly cemented itself as one of the most important trading days in the year, particularly in the world of online performance marketing. We have been taking a look at the performance of our retail clients over Black Friday and Cyber Weekend, and responding to three key questions that were raised in the wake of Black Friday 2015.
Is Cyber Monday dead?
After Black Friday 2015, Affiliate Window released a white paper ’ten things we learned about Black Friday 2015’ and the first statement on that list is that “Cyber Monday is dead”. Analysing the data from our clients this year, we have seen much the same for 2016. Cyber Monday yielded 23.35% of the sales over the four-day period, with Saturday and Sunday providing 17.59% and 17.93% of the total sales respectively. Black Friday still retained the sales crown as expected, with 41.13% share of the sales over the weekend.
Cyber Monday saw a very different sales trend to Black Friday, having a slow rise in sales throughout the morning with the first summit of sales occurring between 12 noon and 1pm. This is likely to be when consumers have time to complete their purchases during their lunch breaks.
Fig.1 Sales broken down by hour, Black Friday 2016 vs. Cyber Monday 2016
We did however see Cyber Monday overtake Black Friday’s sales performance in the late evening between the hours of 9pm and midnight. We structured the majority of the offers and cashback rates for our clients to end on Monday and can confidently assume that the call to action of the expiry dates of promotions had a positive impact on conversions.
When are consumers shopping?
The Black Friday peak for our clients occurred between 8am and 9am, and this was due to the really strong performance we saw on mobile conversions. Traditionally mobile transactions have peaked in the morning of Black Friday, with desktop performing well throughout the day and the peak for the device occurring at lunchtime. Tablet device sales then go on to be the preferred device in the evening.
For our clients this year we saw mobile sales be the most successful between 5am and 9am, and then have a second resurgence at 5pm until the end of the day.
Fig.2 Black Friday 2016 Share of Sales by Device
Is Mobile king?
Over the whole weekend we saw mobile generate 41.30% share conversions, with desktop providing a share of 39.53%, and tablet 17.66% (1.51% unknown device). From the data we have – the short answer, therefore, is yes. However, what we have to consider is the downtime on Black Friday for one of the largest publishers in affiliate marketing (Quidco), whose site was offline and experiencing problems for 12 key trading hours during Black Friday. This needs to be taken into consideration, as we tend to find that users through cashback sites are more likely to convert on a desktop device than mobile.
Fig.3 Transactional device breakdown for cashback publishers Black Friday and Cyber Weekend 2016
In comparison to other publisher types we have seen that cashback publishers over-index in desktop conversions. Discount code publishers saw a desktop sales share of 30.65%, and user-generated content publishers a desktop share 34.59%.
Although mobile device sales take the lion’s share for our clients, mobile sales could have fallen behind that of desktop sales if all partners performed to their full potential over the entirety of the weekend.
Mobile sales are however this year’s undisputed champion throughout Saturday and Sunday, with a 41.92% share of the sales. Desktop was still in second place, and saw a -3.24% drop in sales share where compared to the whole four-day period. Tablet saw a +2.66% increase when we look at the weekend in isolation over the full four days.
Fig. 4 Transactions device share of sales Saturday 26th vs. Sunday 27th November 2016
In conclusion, we have seen a great performance from all of our retail clients throughout Black Friday and Cyber Weekend. We can use all the learnings we have gained from our activity to develop the strategy for Christmas 2016 and then looking forward to 2017. The insights gained around device usage we will be broken down to a client level and we will continue to monitor the device sales share over the coming weeks. How this evolves throughout the festive period will support all aspects of acquisition strategie, and help to inform our Affiliate plans not only for Black Friday and Cyber Weekend 2017, but for also the whole year.