Things we learnt from Black Friday 2016

  1. Fashion retailers and the major online department stores were the dominant force over Black Friday weekend on the search landscape. Apparel brands drove significant YOY growth, despite the initial worry of advertisers around the expected decrease in Black Friday hype. The UK also had to navigate the changes in currency rates and its impact on margins and consumer behaviour. We've summarised our five key learnings.

    1.       Black Friday grew bigger, and Europe joined in

    Black Friday grew in the UK again, but brands also spent more.

    Most of our fashion retailers saw average YoY revenue increases of 40%-60%. With more brands wanting a share of that huge online revenue pie, it was a tougher fight for the customer’s attention, which translated in more advertising investment and higher CPC's.

    While the UK remained Europe's biggest Black Friday market, we saw significant growth YoY across other European markets as the buzz caught on – whereas UK revenue typically increased by up to 20%, markets like France, Italy and Spain easily doubled or tripled their Black Friday revenue.

     2.       Black Friday was Mobile

    The role of mobile used to be all around research, and people then bought on their desktop. But Black Friday demonstrated a further shift towards an end to end mobile journey. Whilst mobile click shares did increase again, this year, the main thing that stood out was the incremental revenue gained through mobile.

    The majority of traffic this Black Friday came from mobile devices, with an average uplift of 50% YoY, while the traffic on desktop remained mostly flat. What’s truly remarkable is that people are much more comfortable buying online, with mobile revenue of our top clients increasing by as much as 90% YOY. Moreover, the cross device transactions on Black Friday grew by 650% compared to a normal day, showing that many more people switched between devices this Black Friday.

    3. Black Friday was online, but stores were still on consumers' minds

Black Friday saw a spike in store and location specific search queries compared to any normal day, but despite an indication to their original intention, consumers decided to buy online rather than go into store. Two major PPC insights indicate this shift in consumer behaviour.

Firstly, Google's store visit data for our fashion retailers showed a Black Friday spike of about 100% vs an average pre-Christmas Saturday. But this was proportionally much lower compared to the strong growth of online traffic and revenue this weekend. Year on year, we saw a 25% drop of Black Friday store visits attributed to PPC clicks.

Illustrating this even further was the spike in local store intent searches, and the even bigger spike of revenue generated from these searches. This showed us that consumers did have the intention of going in store, but then bought online instead.

4.  Online shopping was focused

Search behaviour changed, and growth in product and category specific searches across our top fashion brands were up to five times higher than growth of searches for generic brands or websites.  People had already done their research and knew what they were looking for.

The search query 'Black Friday' lost some popularity, with a slight decrease of searches on the day versus last year, despite the overall growth of the shopping event.

5. Black Friday had clear Moments that Mattered

Many brands implemented strategies to spread out revenue this year and started sales earlier. Revenue remained heavily concentrated around the Friday itself, but did spread out. About 8-10% of annual revenue was being generated during the Black Friday weekend, on average about 0.5% down from last year.

The weekend overall had some clear peaks:

  • 20% of the Black Friday weekend sales happened on Friday evening after 6pm
  • The share of mobile revenue peaked Friday morning between 6am and 7am, when it accounted for an average of 80% of total revenue.
  • Though not coming anywhere near Friday's revenue volumes, Cyber Monday finished on a high, with 11% of the weekend's sales happening after 6pm on Monday evening.