Cyber Monday dominated Black Friday in paid search spend, but AOV lagged
Mobile took a bite out of average order value, but sales from paid search over the holiday period rose.
We know that Black Friday and Cyber Monday were record setters again this year, and with that, paid search spend continued to grow, as did most other metrics. Overall, mobile orders were up 18 percent over the five-day period last year, according to NetElixir data. Here are some key paid search trends gleaned from a couple of early reports.
Orders were highest Cyber Monday, but Black Friday delivered the highest AOV. Cyber Monday accounted for 36 percent of the sales between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, while 24 percent of sales occurred on Black Friday, according to retail search marketing agency NetElixir. That’s a slight shift from 37 and 23 percent, respectively, last year. However, average order value (AOV) was highest on Black Friday at $120.17, beating out the $115.78 AOV seen on Thanksgiving. Cyber Monday’s AOV came in at $91.40, 24 percent lower than Black Friday. Overall, AOV fell by 8.8 percent compared to last year. NetElixir attributes that drop primarily to the increase in mobile conversions where basket sizes are typically smaller.
Spend surged, orders rose. Ad spend on Black Friday surged 81 percent higher than the average preceding days in November. Cyber Monday spend indexed even higher at 105 percent above average, according to campaign management platform provider Marin Software. Clicks rose 53 percent on Black Friday and 40 percent on Cyber Monday. In large part spurred by mobile, conversions increased by 15.33 percent compared to last year.
But also higher CPCs. With all the added jockeying for attention during peak sales days, it’s not surprising to see ad prices also rose. The gaps between the leaps in ad spend and relatively lower increases in clicks means CPCs were also up during those days compared to the earlier part of November. And compared to last year, NetElixir found CPCs rose 12.3 percent over last year between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday.
Differing daypart patterns. The busiest hours for searching and buying during the holiday period were between 6pm and midnight. That last shift of the day accounted for 35.49 percent of impressions and 34.3 percent of orders. Close behind, however, was the afternoon. Nearly 32 percent of impressions and 33 percent of orders were generated between noon and 6pm.
Looking at just Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the chart below, Black Friday orders were relatively steady from 6am on as many people had the day off (or had a slow work day). The Cyber Monday trend however, was quite different as more people shopped after work during the 6pm-midnight hours.
Why you should care. The daypart data highlights the need to pay careful attention to budgets and bid adjustments. “The conversion rates during the top day-parts were as much as 2.5% higher than the average conversion rate (during this period) of 8.32 percent,” said NetElixir.
NetElixir expects the sales growth from paid search to continue throughout the holiday season. Many advertisers will likely see lower average order values than last year as mobile accounts for more click and conversion share. On Cyber Monday, for example, mobile generated 67 percent of clicks, up from 61 percent last year, and 49 percent of orders compared to 44 in 2017. On that Saturday, mobile saw the highest share of orders, topping 62 percent. The trick for retailers will be to turn new mobile shoppers into long-term, repeat customers after the holidays pass.