According to Rakuten Marketing survey data, 83% of consumers have started their holiday shopping by Halloween. Google trend data has shown that Black Friday and Cyber Monday begin gaining traction as early as November 1st, with consumers starting to search for these keywords and deals nearly a month before they shop. While many consumers are purchasing candy and costumes over the next few weeks, brands and publishers are working behind the scenes to finalize placements and promotions for the holiday season. To help advertisers and publishers get ready for the season, we’ve complied the following insights and trends to navigate these significant holiday shopping days.

Thanksgiving and the Days Prior

Thanksgiving not only signifies turkey, family and football, but it also signals the start of the most lucrative shopping week of the year. In 2018, Rakuten Marketing affiliate data revealed Thanksgiving to be the day that saw the highest average order value (AOV) out of all other days during Cyber Week. But Thanksgiving may no longer be the official kick off to the shopping season. According to Rakuten Intelligence data, the days leading up to Thanksgiving are beginning to entice consumers to purchase with a 25% increase in average daily sales. Data from Rakuten Marketing’s affiliate network revealed the total number of orders placed at department stores on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving grew by 40% in 2018, indicating consumers are browsing earlier and making purchases while prepping for their turkey dinner. Likewise, when it came to both consumer electronics and video games, total orders grew by 132% and 56% year-over-year (YOY) respectively on that Wednesday.

By locking in placements and promotions with your advertiser partners early in November or even October, you can successfully optimize your site to showcase high converting offers, effectively capitalizing on these early-bird shoppers.

Black Friday

Long gone are the days when Americans hit the malls at dawn to get the best Black Friday deals, now consumers are taking advantage of great offers right from the comfort of their homes. Last year, over half of US consumers surveyed planned to make a purchase on this day.  According to 2018 Rakuten Marketing affiliate data, Black Friday was the top performing digital day for clicks, orders and sales. As a publisher, the key asset you can monetize is your audience. This means your focus during this period should be to drive as much traffic as possible to your website. Investing more time and effort into your social channels can help drive that essential traffic and revenue.

Cyber Monday

While the leftovers are nearly finished and consumers are heading back to work, there is no slow down to holiday shopping. According to eMarketer, Cyber Monday 2018 was the heaviest online spending day in history, with a reported $7.87 billion. While Black Friday remains the top day for clicks, orders and sales, Cyber Monday was the #1 day for conversions in 2018 in Rakuten Marketing’s network. These trends indicate that shoppers convert more on Cyber Monday because they want the best deals possible and want to take advantage of those deals before inventory runs out or an offer expires. Rakuten Marketing affiliate data reported that 78% of affiliate consumers started their customer journey and ended it with a purchase on Cyber Monday. A similar trend was seen in the apparel and accessories vertical, with 70% of customer journeys starting and converting on Cyber Monday.  It is interesting to note that the remaining 30% of consumers began to browse deals and offers in the days leading up to Cyber Monday, creating a continuous pipeline of shoppers who are researching before they buy.

Even though many consumers are converting within the same day, it’s crucial to have offers ready to go throughout the entirety of Cyber Week. The consumer electronics vertical is a little different than apparel and accessories, with the majority of conversions occurring on Thanksgiving. This doesn’t mean publishers should remove tech-specific offers or promotions after Thanksgiving. There is still a large group of consumers actively browsing deals during the weekend, with 17% of consumers beginning their hunt on Thanksgiving and finally purchasing on Cyber Monday.

With one of the largest shopping periods of the year ahead of us, it’s important to be proactive and prepared with offers, promotions and deals from your advertiser partners. Solidify your placements in October and early November, monitor site traffic and conversions throughout Cyber Week and rely on the data from your affiliate network to provide additional insights into performance, setting yourself up for a profitable holiday season.

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