Black Friday Cyber Monday: A Performance Assessment

December 14, 2022

by Dale Wilson

How did you plan for Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) 2022? adQuadrant read the tea leaves. OK, by tea leaves we mean running many models and forecasts, as well as leaning into industry data about shopper trends and inflation – specifically, materials like Google’s Navigating Inflation and Uncertainty where they said, “…shoppers are scouting for the best sales, bargain hunting, taking advantage of retailers’ early deal days, and  prioritizing essential items to make the most of tightened holiday budgets and to thoughtfully spread out their holiday costs”.

Starting Black Friday Cyber Monday Early

For one big ticket item client in particular, the data showed that many people were waiting on the shopper holiday to purchase items like this. From all of this, we determined that we needed to:

  • Start our Black Friday Cyber Monday sales 5 days early
  • Begin a soft scale ~1 week before Black Friday occurred
  • Surge the scale on Black Friday and Cyber Monday
  • Focus on AOV
    • Using data from adQuadrant, the client created bundle pages with big ticket items + accessories at a discount on top of $100-300 off

The Value of Bundles

Let’s talk about the bundles for a minute – the advertiser had planned a nice dollar amount off of their big ticket item and a healthy percentage off of accessories. However, once we shared what we’d seen in the data and platform materials, they went all-hands-on-deck to activate six holiday bundles that would offer the discounted big ticket item and accessories together into easy-to-purchase bundles. The plan here was to make the purchase as seamless and simplified as possible, particularly for new customers.

Seize the Data

Another important aspect of the above mentioned research is that it wasn’t just tea leaf predictions. It all came from reputable sources with data and specific trends to back it up. This made internal buy-in at the brand simple from shipper to c-level, everyone saw the value and vision for the project.

After a lot of hard work, it paid off. The client had its largest sales day in partnership history with over six figures in revenue, it crushed last year’s November performance with a 38% increase year over year and ended their efficiency metrics/guardrails nearly 10% over goal. For Black Friday Cyber Monday alone, their total sales were up 89% and total orders were up 134%.  

So here’s the real kicker: for the month, ad spend saw a 20% decrease and 2022’s efficiency metric ended the month 80 points higher than last year. The narrative here is efficiency. adQuadrant short-squeezed spend in the first 3 weeks of the month, soft scaled from 11/20 – 11/24, then surge scaled from 11/25 – 11/28, peeling back on Sat/Sun. adQ was strategic with the client’s money. So, while ad spend on the days of Black Friday Cyber Monday was higher, the spend for the month was lower overall and performance was amazing in comparison to previous years.

Back to Bundles

Another note around strategy and results – the ads focusing on the bundles were only shown to cold audiences, folks that had never engaged with the brand according to our data. This led to a nearly 2.5x ratio of new purchasers to returning customers – these are now new customers that will tell their friends about their amazing purchase and come back later for replacement parts, new styles and additional complimentary products.

Black Friday Cyber Monday: A Performance Assessment

Maximizing Spend… with Guardrails

OK, let’s talk about a second Black Friday Cyber Monday scenario; this one is a little more traditional. The client wanted adQuadrant to maximize spend within our forecasted limit and performance/efficiency guardrail. The big key here was that adQuadrant had to be particularly agile in the moment, based on data from the client.

During Cyber Monday, adQuadrant gathered data on total revenue as reported by the clients back-end system, provided periodically throughout the day. Focusing on this new, hot-off-the-press data and last year’s data, adQuadrant calculated and graphed the hourly revenue rate and forecasted the remainder of the day as time passed.

Using Google’s Seasonality Adjustments, adQuadrant was able to control spend to come within ~6% of the forecasted target. And, using advanced tracking parameter measurement, adQuadrant was able to understand which tactics to allocate most of the budget towards as performance was happening. In the end, adQuadrant delivered above Return on Ad Spend and Cost Per Acquisition guardrails while surpassing last year’s ad spend by 20%.

Last, But Not Least

And finally, there’s a third Black Friday Cyber Monday scenario, probably the most straightforward but still immensely successful. This client was relatively new to adQuadrant and while they had a good amount of historic data to go by, there’s been a lot of changes over the last year in the business alone so there were a lot of new variables. This client also has a high price point primary product but they didn’t have the flexibility to begin scaling until the days of Black Friday Cyber Monday.

Within Facebook, adQuadrant created specific campaigns maximizing remarketing windows for the pixel and increasing the percentage of spend on retargeting versus prospecting. The spend on evergreen campaigns was increased to find the point of diminishing returns. adQuadrant also used a variety of ad placements including catalog campaigns with the Black Friday Cyber Monday title card.

The real weight of the project came in checking the campaigns and general account performance several times throughout the day and a process of duplicating the campaigns based on their performance and budgets, aggressively optimizing structure based on changing performance.

Again, huge successes including a spend increase of 270% with an 83% increase in Return on Ad Spend, an 8% increase in average order value and a 252% increase in conversion rates – the numbers really only went up.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

So, there were 3 different scenarios because there never is a one size fits all prediction of how platforms will need to be optimized during Black Friday Cyber Monday. Each brand is unique in their lifecycle, product offering, budgets, and capabilities. But all of these brands had an intense, almost insatiable need to be successful with a sometimes difficult 2022 in their rearview mirrors and a looming, unknowable 2023 ahead of them.

About the author: Dale has 20 years of experience in dot-coms working as a media buyer, account manager, account director, sales and now partnerships.  He hails from Pittsburgh PA, and received his BA in Literature and Language at Webster University in St. Louis, MO. An avid traveler, he has lived in Vienna, Austria, Northern and Southern California, and backpacked across Europe. He now calls Los Angeles home, with his wife and spoiled princess pibble.

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