The most important shopping weekend of the year has concluded, meaning marketers and retailers can breathe a small sigh of relief. This time period, dubbed Cyber5 — encompassing the five days from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday — delivered record-breaking sales figures with Black Friday boasting a 7.5% year-over-year (YoY) revenue increase, totaling $9.8 billion in U.S. online sales. Cyber Monday followed suit with an impressive 9.6% YoY increase, reaching a total of $12.4 billion.
These landmark numbers unveiled some interesting trends that can help retail advertisers fine-tune their marketing strategies for the rest of the holiday season.
Social media played a pivotal role in this year’s Cyber5 period, revealing noteworthy trends highlighted by Chris Jurado, Digital Director at WITHIN, utilizing data from WITHIN’s Marketing Pulse Dashboard.
Brands strategically diversified their social channel presence, moving away from heavy reliance on Meta platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Non-Meta channels experienced an 84% improvement in Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) with a 14% increase in investment. Notably, Pinterest stood out with a remarkable 149% YoY increase in investment and a 79% revenue boost.
Source: WITHIN Client Data
And while ad placement is important, targeting the right audience can make or break a campaign.
WITHIN clients saw social retargeting audience conversion rates double YoY during Cyber5, confirming a trend that was expected: consumers wait for the most favorable offers before making a purchase. This surge in conversions was attributed to a combination of factors, including enhanced audience segmentation, personalized messaging, and an improved omnichannel experience.
To capitalize this trend and efficiently convert price-conscious consumers throughout the holiday season, Jurado recommends a strategic reallocation of budget towards retargeting audiences on peak demand days. This strategic move can maximize conversion chances for users who are already in the consideration phase.
Source: WITHIN Client Data
And while it’s crucial to target the right audience on the right platform, utilizing scroll-stopping creative assets can transform your campaign.
This Cyber5, a classic creative format persisted: static images with prominent “X% Off!” callouts. While this approach has proven effective for years, it emphasizes the need for brands to creatively distinguish themselves among competition in order to capture the attention of cost-conscious consumers.
As brands navigate the holiday season, they should blend best practices with their unique identity. Creative content must balance (price), emotion (lifestyle) and product (features & function) seamlessly. This could mean using impactful brand photography, relevant lifestyle elements imagery or video, subtle motion in products or the overall image, and strategies to infuse excitement into the offers. Consider the full campaign experience and how it works together rather than just a single, standalone asset.
Source: WITHIN Creative Team for The North Face
Consumers continue to express concerns about product availability and shipping times, making it critical for retailers to communicate shipping deadlines early and often. WITHIN’s Lifecycle Director, Carla Donahue, observed a trend where retail advertisers prioritized addressing these concerns using email preheaders. These pre-headers quickly captured recipients’ attention by providing relevant information aligned with their interests.
Email marketers can use this trend to stand out in a crowded inbox and address consumer concerns by emphasizing key shipping dates for the rest of the holiday season in email subject lines or pre-text.
Over 14% of consumers noted that an influencer talking about holiday purchases influenced their Black Friday purchases this year, with around 6% saying it was the most important influence on their Black Friday purchasing decision — underscoring the importance (and well, influence) of incorporating influencer marketing into your overall marketing strategy especially during peak shopping periods.
Connected TV (CTV) ad spend in the U.S. is anticipated to surpass $25 billion this year, with this past Cyber5 period reinforcing that projection. Advertisers spent 2.6 times more on CTV advertising during this period compared to the previous year, a clear indication of the growing influence of CTV in reaching engaged audiences. But what (may) have shocked some is where these ad dollars were spent: this year, Peacock claimed the top spot, followed by Hulu, then Tubi. (Source: tvScientific)
Christian Reagan, Programmatic Manager at WITHIN, suggests, “The shift in networks may be attributed to advertisers showing a desire to invest in premium networks this year compared to the previous one — which is a trend that should be taken into account when developing CTV strategies for the rest of the holiday season.”
A trend that was not surprising but rather predictable was the significant surge in search activity related to terms like ‘Black Friday,’ ‘Cyber Monday,’ and ‘holiday sales.’ Brands that designed dedicated web pages exclusively tailored to these terms had a one-up in capturing this heightened traffic.
To capitalize on the increased search activity throughout the remaining holiday season, Chris Tatum, Head of SEO at WITHIN, recommends consistently updating and optimizing these sales pages with fresh meta information, content, and product offerings to align with evolving search patterns. Think: ‘end of year sales’ or ‘new years sales’ pages.
Source: Google Trends
Many shoppers likely observed a trend that subsequently impacted affiliate marketing strategies: businesses initiating their sales before Black Friday to stay competitive. Brands that foresaw this early start found themselves a step ahead, while those caught off guard likely faced challenges in executing effective affiliate campaigns. To stay ahead of the curve, WITHIN’s affiliate team analyzed evolving consumer trends, evaluated the retail landscape, and reviewed data from previous years prior to Cyber5. This analysis revealed the impending early start to the shopping season and informed the development of our clients’ affiliate campaign strategies.
To improve and optimize your affiliate strategy for the rest of the holiday season, it’s crucial to analyze your brand’s Cyber5 campaign performance and identify high-performing affiliates, compelling messaging, and effective offers, and incorporate them into your ongoing strategy.
Mirroring the broader retail industry, Amazon achieved its most substantial Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in its 29-year history. Despite these impressive results, Amazon continued to bid aggressively on Google — resulting in elevated Cost Per Clicks (CPCs) that had a widespread impact on retail advertisers. This trend reflects Amazon’s determination to solidify its position as the go-to destination for all shopping needs and the ultimate gifting source.However, WITHIN clients proactively navigated this challenge by diversifying their advertising channels and refining bidding strategies in real-time. This strategic approach, coupled with effectively communicating each brand’s unique value proposition through creative content and copy, not only enabled brands to stand out amidst Amazon’s dominance but also serves as a strategy that should be enforced throughout the holiday season.
Source: WITHIN Client Data
As advertisers and retailers analyze the effectiveness of their Cyber5 marketing campaigns, focusing on key performance indicators (KPIs) and identifying relevant patterns is crucial. This surge in data and traffic provide highly valuable insights that can demonstrate which marketing channels were most effective, how customer behavior changed from previous years, and which products or promotions drove the most sales. These insights can be used to optimize strategies for the remainder of the holiday season and beyond.
KPIs to prioritize by channel, holistically and compare YoY:
Patterns to observe, both by channel, holistically and compare YoY:
Contact us today to learn how our expert team can elevate your brand with a full-funnel marketing strategy that helps you reach potential customers and boost sales for your business year-round.