Chris "Coz" Costello, Senior Director of Marketing Research @ Kenshoo
Normally, Thanksgiving falls around November 22nd, which provides potential customers with plenty of time to shop before Christmas, but this year’s late Thanksgiving shortened the shopping days before Christmas to just 26.
Historically, Q4 consumer spending isn’t affected by a short holiday season, but the abbreviated timeline meant that retail marketers would need to place bigger bets on key dates.
Black Friday 2019 experienced more than triple the average daily advertising spending versus pre-Thanksgiving November across ecommerce advertising (+218% or 3.2x), social product ads (+218% or 3.2x) and search shopping ads (+248% or 3.5x).
Ecommerce channel advertising (ECA)—primarily led by Amazon Advertising—has been one of the fastest-growing ad channels. The primary benefit for marketers using ECA is reaching consumers at the very bottom of the funnel with highly targeted ads as they shop in online marketplaces.
Retailers have been quick to recognize the ECA opportunity—with Amazon specifically growing faster than any other major ad publisher. In 2017, marketers were still testing the channel, but 2018 showed triple-digit growth as these brands launched sophisticated ECA programs with fully-funded investments. With more major retailers set to launch their ecommerce advertising programs in the near future, the long-term outlook for this channel is strong.
2018’s impressive year-over-year ECA growth demonstrated that retail brands were still ramping up on the channel, while 2019’s double-digit growth on Thanksgiving is more reflective of a mature ad channel rather than a nascent one.
As a result of this increased advertiser attention, ecommerce channel advertising costs went up due to more competition in the market. CPC was up 10% on Thanksgiving in the channel compared to the rest of November and up 29% on Black Friday.
One trend to watch going into the holiday season was whether or not advertisers adapted to fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas by “heavying up” on ad spending before sitting down for turkey. As it turns out, only social product advertising spend fit that pattern, ending up 26% higher in 2019 versus 2018 based on the pre-Thanksgiving November daily average. No such trend emerged for either ecommerce channel ads or search shopping campaigns.
This finding emphasizes social advertising’s ability to stimulate demand, particularly in advance of the increased purchase intent of the long holiday shopping weekend. While search advertising and ECA are strong bottom-funnel tactics, to reach consumers, they either require shoppers to actively research keywords on a search engine or visit an online marketplace.
Social advertising, however, can be pushed to people who are less engaged in product research. This, combined with its unparalleled consumer data, engaging ad formats, and massive scale make it a valuable top- and mid-funnel opportunity to drive interest and awareness before key holiday dates.
It is also why more than half of the $57 billion spent on programmatic digital display advertising this year will go to social ads.
The advertising performance data used for this analysis was comprised of Kenshoo advertiser clients. The analysis is based on performance data on the Kenshoo platform for accounts with continuous daily spending throughout the relevant holiday seasons. Search and social data takes into account advertisers categorized as retail/ecommerce only.
As part of the dataset used for this analysis:
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