An image of a guy popping out of a box with laptop, shopping for Black Friday
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The Advertiser’s Guide to Black Friday 2023

Black Friday has evolved from its origins as a singular, hectic day of discounted shopping into a sprawling four-day retail phenomenon dedicated to digital deals. From Small Business Saturday and Sunday, which spotlight local commerce, to the ever-popular Cyber Monday, which has become a digital shopping staple, these days collectively constitute four of the most pivotal shopping milestones of the entire year. 

As the season broadens, forward-thinking brands are unveiling their sales strategies earlier, aiming to tap into the eagerness of consumers on the lookout for early-bird discounts. This strategic shift is driven by the desire to engage early with consumers who are eager to snag discounts, thereby leveraging the full potential of the extended festive shopping period. 

As this trend accelerates, it challenges businesses to continually refine and enhance their holiday season strategies, ensuring they remain top-of-mind for the estimated 68% of consumers that will participate in Black Friday shopping. Last year at Fluency, our data revealed that the greatest advertising impacts stemmed from email campaigns, social media engagement, and, most notably, paid search initiatives. Among these, paid search emerged as the strongest driver for online sales. Here’s a snapshot of our 2022 data: 

  • The spend on Black Friday was 19% higher than the average spend per day in Q4.
  • The spend on Cyber Monday was 32% higher than the average spend per day in Q4.
  • The spend on Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend (Friday-Sunday) was 21% higher than the average weekend (Friday-Sunday) day in Q4.

How businesses of all sizes are taking note to evolve their holiday advertising strategies

This year, we’re seeing leading retailers such as Amazon, Walmart and Target extend their Black Friday promotional periods to month-long events (Walmart, for example, brings together the cast of Mean Girls in their latest Black Friday ad; whereas Amazon tugs on our heartstrings with a heartwarming holiday ad covering The Beatles’ ‘In My Life.’). 

It’s not just major retailers either. Small to medium sized businesses are beginning their marketing campaigns well in advance too, ensuring they’re offering a wide variety of products and services at discounted rates to attract a broad customer base. Local car dealerships are a prime example, offering ‘Buy One, Get One’ promotions on tires and essential services in anticipation of the winter season. 

Maximizing impact: strategies for your end-of-year promotional digital advertising campaigns 

If your business is running end of year promotions, consider the following strategies to help you supercharge your performance over this crucial shopping period.

Adjust Your Ad Copy: Your ads need to grab attention and clearly highlight your Black Friday deals. To elevate your ad visibility:

  • Implement Promotion Extensions: Adding this extra line of text is a simple way to differentiate your offerings from competitors.
  • Include Black Friday Mentions: Tailoring your ad copy with Black Friday promotions improves click-through and conversion rates, thus enhancing your return on investment. Prioritize crafting targeted ad copy for your key products and categories.
  • Add Countdown Timers: Create a sense of urgency with countdowns signaling the end of your promotions. As the deadline looms, customers are more likely to convert.
  • Add Sitelinks to Hot Items: Direct customers to high-demand products with specific sitelinks. It’s about making the path to purchase as straightforward as possible.
  • Utilize Ad Customizers for Inventory: Displaying limited stock through ad customizers can trigger a scarcity mindset and drive purchases. Just have backup promotions for when you run out of a specific product.

Revisit your Keyword Strategy: 

  • Reactivate Relevant Keywords: Reintroduce previously paused keywords pertinent to your promotions, which may see improved performance during holiday sales.
  • Pause Non-Promotional Keywords: Considering that keywords can increase three to four times in search volume, pause those not associated with deals to focus on what's crucial for your business during Black Friday.

Maximize Your Performance Max Campaigns

  • Apply Seasonality Adjustments: When applying Seasonality Adjustments, you’re telling Google’s Smart Bidding algorithm that you expect an uptick in your conversion rate during a specific period. For Black Friday weekend, you can use Seasonal Bid Adjustments to bid higher during peak buying moments. Just make sure to keep a close eye on your ad positions and Return on Ad Spends (ROAs), and change your bid adjustments as needed. 
  • Adjust Audience Signals: Reach more shoppers by adding relevant in-market and custom-intent audience signals to your promotional asset groups. 

Utilize Ad Scheduling and Optimize for Mobile

  • Target Peak Shopping Times: Schedule your ads when shoppers are most active. Historical data can guide you to choose these peak times.
  • Mobile-First Campaigns: With the prevalence of mobile shopping, ensure your campaigns are mobile-friendly. In 2022, Black Friday mobile shoppers accounted for 48% of online sales

Consider Amazon Sponsored Display Ads 

  • Capitalize on Amazon’s Reach: Amazon will be among the top retailers for Black Friday, expected to offer competitive deals and attract a large share of shoppers. The recent introduction of Amazon Sponsored Display Ads for All gives industries that aren’t native to Amazon's retail space—think everything from home services to the automotive sector to travel and hospitality—a monumental opportunity to leverage Amazon’s insights and rich audience data.

Increase Your Budget

  • Be Flexible with Spending: Be ready to adjust your spend based on performance and goals. Keep a vigilant eye on your ROI and have a budget buffer of 20-30% to counteract the spike in CPC rates and secure your ad presence against competitors. Allocate your budget strategically, giving priority to high-performing keywords and ads. 

Scaling your strategy with automation

Regardless of the strategies you choose, automation will be key to your success.  

Relying solely on manual efforts for adjustments throughout the month can be inefficient, costly, and may even affect compliance in certain industries. Brands require the ability to swiftly change and deploy ads at scale, and that’s where enterprise PPC management proves invaluable. It not only simplifies the processes of launching and optimizing ads but also enhances output quality and saves precious time. 

At Fluency, we offer a suite of tools designed to help businesses and agencies scale their advertising management and operations. Here’s a closer look at what they are and how their functions can help set you up for success:

  • Broadcast: Our Broadcast tool allows users to update and schedule ad content with promotions and special offers for a specific time period, eliminating the need for manual reminders to pause or remove these ads once a promotion period ends. 
  • Bulk Tools: Using Fluency's Bulk Tools, you can create, update, pause and archive campaigns, budgets, ad groups, keywords, and creatives all at once, saving countless hours of manual work.
  • Budgeting: With our budgeting capabilities you can keep campaigns on target throughout the holiday season with configurable and automated pacing strategies based on your business goals. Allow our budgeting tool to handle your bid adjustments and reallocations within campaigns or across channels, ensuring you make the most of every dollar.
  • Data Discovery: Data Explorer allows brands to review performance live across publishers in one comprehensive and customizable interface. Identify key trends and opportunities throughout the holiday season to leverage going into 2024.

As you can see from just a handful of our features, businesses that adopt automation for their holiday advertising efforts can save substantial time and significantly enhance their campaign performance, ensuring they effectively capitalize on the surge in holiday shopping.

Partner with Fluency for holiday advertising success

The key to success lies in a combination of early advertising, leveraging the right platforms, targeting the right audience, and using automation intelligently to power your campaign performance. Ready to automate your holiday advertising or make sure your business is set up for success in the New Year? Book a demo with Fluency today! 

Happy Holidays from the team at Fluency!