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eCommerce Advertising in the 2019 Holiday Season

eCommerce Advertising in the 2019 Holiday Season

By   January 27th, 2020

Introduction and Methodology

The 2020 holiday season is still a ways off, but an understanding of what happened last season will give you a solid foundation for making this year’s plans. This article highlights some of the key trends we noticed in eCommerce advertising including a shift in ad spend between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, higher ROAS through mid-December, and highlight lower costs-per-click for advertisers through the 2019 season.

While reading, keep in mind the 2019 holiday shopping season was about a week shorter than 2018 due to a late Thanksgiving. In 2019, the window between Black Friday and Christmas day was 26 days compared to 32 days in the previous year.

eCommerce advertising data, led by Amazon Advertising, was indexed across Marin’s customer base for 2019 and 2018. Our methodology takes the October average for each metric and uses that as a baseline (100) for the rest of the data that year. Data in the graphs show whether any day was higher (100+) or lower (100-) versus the baseline of its respective year.

Black Friday Outspends Cyber Monday

In 2019, our customer base spent slightly more (+2%) on Black Friday compared to Cyber Monday. This marks a shift from 2018 where Cyber Monday outspent Black Friday by nearly 40%.

So why the change? Potentially with the increased confidence in mobile shopping, Black Friday can be seen as another “online holiday” as shoppers find similar deals shopping on their own as opposed to lining up at the stores.

Strong ROAS Gains Through December

Cyber Monday and Black Friday are by far the best days in the holiday season when it comes to overall sales, but increase competition drives CPCs higher and pushes down ROAS. The good news is that ROAS rebounds through the rest of December, peaking at the shipping cut-off dates. One theory could be that many of those December sales were influenced by strong Black Friday / Cyber Monday advertising which “primed the pump” and led to a later-date purchase.

This ROAS growth illustrates where advertisers find their wins throughout the entire holiday season, not just its biggest volume days.

Better eComm CPCs for Advertisers

eCommerce CPCs saw less upward pressure in 2019 compared to 2018 making it a more stable environment for advertisers. The trends follow a similar pattern in each year, ramping up and peaking during the “Cyber Five Day” then leveling out through December, but the indexed CPC numbers were closer to the October baseline for all of December 2019 as opposed to being closer to 1.5x the baseline in 2018.

This could be the result of gained experience in the space, better planning, and better bidding decisions throughout the 2019 holiday season.

Wrap Up

Now is the time to revisit your results from last year while it is fresh. First off, make sure you have a means to store your Q4 2019 data for reference when 2020 holiday season rolls around. To solve for that, Marin now provides a free reporting solution to store and access your performance data for eCommerce, Search, and Social. Also, start thinking about how aggressive ad spend on one day might influence increased sales weeks later, and the general “flywheel effect” with eCommerce. Last, consider new ad types, run tests, and implement workflows that will save time and put you in a better place through 2020.

With 2019 in the rearview we’re excited to partner with brands to help them hit their 2020 targets and will share findings and opportunities as we analyze Marin customer data through the year.