The Publisher’s Guide to Black Friday and Cyber Monday

The Publisher’s Guide to Black Friday and Cyber Monday:

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How to prepare for start of the busiest season of the year!

This year’s Black Friday is November 23, 2018, the day after Thanksgiving. Cyber Monday will fall on the 26 of November.  Those two days are traditionally the busiest shopping days of the year because they kick off the holiday season.
The period stretching between the two days is also a particularly busy time for both e-retailers and publishers alike!

In this article, we’ll try to explain how Black Friday and Cyber Monday became landmark dates for e-retailers and publishers. We’ll also try to present few tips that can help publishers maximize their revenue as the holiday season begins.

What are Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

  • Black Friday: The Adjective “Black” is customarily used to label particularly somber days in the history of a nation. The appellation “Black Friday” might however be an exception to the rule; depending on which perspective you consider the events that lead to its introduction to the public vernacular. 
The first time the term “Black Friday” was used by a large media outlet to refer to the Friday that followed Thanksgiving was by the New York Times in an article describing the large crowds and traffic congestion that accompanied the start of the Christmas shopping season in Philadelphia during the 70s.
  • Cyber Monday: Contrary to the term Black Friday, Cyber Monday is a relatively new term that Ellen Davis (Current Senior Vice President of the National Retail Federation) came up within 2005. E-commerce retailers quickly started using the name, having realized that the Monday that followed Thanksgiving was one the biggest shopping days of the year.

Nowadays, the four days stretching from the Black Friday to Cyber Monday are a crucial period of every year for both Advertisers and Publishers.

Why should you care about Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

It is no secret that the last quarter (aka holiday season) brings in the highest returns for both retailers and publishers.Having said that, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are still two outliers when it comes to consumer spending and advertiser spending. Consumers, for instance, has spent nearly $14 Billion during these two days last year in the US alone – and are expected to spend even more this year. On the other hand, Retailer ad spend is expected to reach $23 billion during that same period.

The massive increase in advertiser and consumer spending during Black Friday and Cyber Monday is typically accompanied by a boost in traffic for publishers and an inflation of EPCs (Earning Per Click)!
This year, website traffic is expected to increase by 32% during those two days compared to the holiday season average. Additionally, EPCs are likely to experience a 15% lift over that same period. All relevant numbers are looking green for the kickoff of the holiday season. Publishers and e-retailers should, however, prepare themselves adequately to make the best of this period of the year.

How can publishers prepare for Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

Start preparing early:

As was previously mentioned, publishers usually experience an increase in traffic during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. That being said, most of this traffic is generated by articles that get published during the month of November in the couple of weeks that precede the two big days.

Counterintuitively, a large part of the revenue that publishers earn during in November comes from articles that were published at least 60 days before Black Friday. Moreover, data collected about 25 large publishers showed that 40% of their advertising revenue came from old articles that they published more than two months before Black Friday.

Publishers also face fierce competition during the period stretching from Black Friday to Cyber Monday, which is why they need more time to prepare an editorial and a promotion strategy that will allow them to stand out against their competition.

For example, last year, Time Inc. UK, commissioned 20 writers to produce content ahead of Black Friday. The team’s goal was to create around 200 pieces of content that all related to the first day of the shopping season. Which goes to show how competitive this period of the year is for publishers; but also, how lucrative it can be.

Embrace the spirit of the season:

As a publisher, the key asset that you can monetize is your audience. That means that your focus during this period should be to drive as much traffic as possible to your website.

In order to achieve that goal, you need to consistently produce content that could be useful for your audience during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Content creators should then publish that content throughout the months of October and November.

One type of content that usually performs well during this period are purchase guides and lists of deals that help your audience know what Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals are most relevant to them and help them buy the service/products that they need at the lowest possible price.

Adjust your direct-selling strategy:

As mentioned before, most e-retailers see a significant increase in their traffic during this period. E-retailers also experience a substantial increase in their Average Order Value (AOV) and Conversion rates –  AOVs usually grow by almost 5% and Conversion rates by more than 20%!

As a result of this surge of performance, e-retailers are willing to pay more for ad inventory in the weeks leading to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. That is why CPMs usually rise by 25% in the week prior to Black Friday.

Publishers who solely rely on programmatic to sell their ad inventory should experience a boost in their RPMs during this period thanks to the dynamic nature of Real-time bidding.

Publishers who sell a considerable portion of their ad inventory directly to advertisers will need to update their rate card and revise their prices upwards to avoid missing out on a potential revenue in the form of additional money that advertisers are willing to pay for their impressions during this period.

Robert Janes