2018 Thanksgiving Weekend in Review

Amrita Hemdev
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By Amrita Hemdev
December 05, 2018
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Consumers embraced 2018 online holiday shopping with enthusiasm starting on Thanksgiving Day and peaking on Cyber Monday, which became the highest U.S. e-commerce sales day in history with $7.9 billion in revenue. Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday all displayed an increase in year-over-year (YOY) sales growth.

 Keep reading to learn interesting stats and facts from Adobe Analytics during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend (November 22 - 26). 

Thanksgiving Day. Online spending on Thanksgiving 2018 hit $3.7 billion, representing 27.9% growth YOY, outpacing 2017’s 18.3% growth rate. It is the highest growth rate since 2014. One reason is that many retailers changed their strategy, for the first time charging the same prices on Thanksgiving Day as they did on Black Friday. Average order values were up 8.0% over Thanksgiving Day last year.

Black Friday. Online sales on Black Friday jumped 23.6% from a year ago, to $6.2 billion. More than $2 billion of these revenues came from smartphones with 33.5% of total sales attributed to mobile, up from 29% last year. Average order value was $146, an increase of 8.5% over 2017.

Cyber Monday. It was the biggest sales day of the year with online revenues of $7.9 billion, an increase of 19.3% over 2017. Mobile transactions soared. Over half of the visits – 54.3% – came from mobile devices, a YOY increase of 55.6%. Amazon issued a statement saying it sold more items on Cyber Monday than any other day in its history including Prime Day 2018, although it didn’t provide specific sales figures.

 

 2018 Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend Digital Advertising Insights

Black Friday and Cyber Monday – the two largest online selling days of the year – are now in the books. It’s time to take a look at our Black Friday and Cyber Monday digital advertising campaigns to see which advertiser categories performed well, which tactics were most used by advertisers, and what that may mean for your 2019 digital advertising initiatives.

We analyzed ZypMedia’s 2018 Thanksgiving holiday weekend digital advertising campaigns ranging from Thanksgiving Day (November 22) to Cyber Monday (November 26) to help you kickstart planning and optimizing your 2019 Thanksgiving holiday campaigns. This data, in combination with your own, will help you capture attention, promote consideration, and drive purchases seamlessly across touch points relevant to your audiences.

We are breaking down Thanksgiving holiday weekend advertising by the numbers and seeing some interesting data and insights from the 2018 campaigns supported by ZypMedia that can help you make a better holiday digital advertising plan.

 

The duration of ZypMedia Thanksgiving campaigns ranged between 5-30 days, and we saw a major increase in impressions during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, i.e, November 22-26.

Businesses put up offers and sales online during the week of Thanksgiving to engage consumers and support their short-term sales goals.

Digital ads during the holiday season are mainly run for businesses selling products or services with holiday deals. Ads started at the beginning of November and saw higher click rates and impressions served towards the end of November. We observed click rates peaking for Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday sales when shoppers spend the most online.

 

The products chosen by advertisers to reach their target audience was a mix of over-the-top (OTT), digital display ads, and pre-roll video ads. Sixty percent of clients preferred digital display advertising campaigns and 32% preferred OTT advertising campaigns.

Connected TV (CTV) and OTT video viewing are growing on the strength of streaming technologies and premium content aimed at living room screens.

OTT advertising is emerging as a leading strategy for advertisers during the holiday season to reach the growing number of young, affluent consumers who are adapting to advanced TV at a faster pace.

Advertisers have been consistently adding OTT to other U.S. holiday campaigns throughout the year, and we expected no different for the Thanksgiving holiday.OTT digital video campaigns' high performance is related to high delivery from CTV devices. OTT campaigns can be run for a shorter duration, unlike other digital campaigns that need a longer duration of time to see the results of optimizations.OTT advertising is a fairly new concept that started in 2016 and has been growing by leaps and bounds ever since. We saw 32% of our clients preferring to use OTT advertising to reach their target audience this Thanksgiving holiday.

Advertising through OTT grants access to the living room, where families spend time together, especially during Thanksgiving, as children, parents, and other family members are enjoying time off from their respective schools and workplaces.

 

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The highest-performing advertiser category was as predicted, shopping (61%), followed by home and garden (23%) and automotive (13%).

Consumers are spending a lot more time in their research and purchase-decision phases, and most of that is done online.

At ZypMedia, our top categories of advertisers comprised of shopping, home and garden, automotive, and health and fitness.

U.S. consumers are searching for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals online across various shopping categories like clothing and shoes, electronics, toys, jewelry, and more. We saw a lot of engagement from shoppers online to buy gifts for their friends, families, and themselves during Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday.

The auto industry is an important element of the entire U.S. economy. During the holiday season, consumers tend to make large expenditures of disposable income on big-ticket items like cars.

The majority of people in the U.S. decorate Christmas trees each year, and they are shelling out more and more money to do so. According to a 2017 study from the American Christmas Tree Association, 78% of U.S. households displayed Christmas trees last year.

Families buy home decor items for their houses during the holiday season. Big and small companies selling furniture and home decor come out with great offers and deals for Black Friday.

Advertisers capitalized on this opportunity in 2018 and ran display ads for these furniture and home decor companies during the Black Friday week to attract consumers for the big sale bonanza.

 

 

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The highest CTR was observed from November  21 - 23 on mobile. The highest VCR from OTT campaigns was 99%.

OTT campaigns can be run for a shorter duration, unlike other digital campaigns that need a longer duration of time to see the results of optimizations.

VCR is the percentage of all video ads that play in entirety. FreeWheel found that OTT viewers, on average, complete 98% of video ads as compared to ad completion rates on other devices.

The highest click-through rate (CTR) achieved for ZypMedia's display campaigns was 0.20% and our ad operations team observed the highest performing CTR between November 21-23, 2018.

A CTR is the measurement of the ratio between how many people are exposed to the ad and how many people actually click the ad. A higher CTR on Thanksgiving and Black Friday indicates that more people were clicking on ads during that time, which supports the idea that Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, which were on November 22 and 23 this year, were the most effective times for running Thanksgiving holiday campaigns.


Make your digital advertising plan for 2019 while the insights are hot.

Taking a look at this year’s campaigns and sales figures for your next year’s campaign will help you make better business decisions. What had better ROI, email, or display ads? Campaigns that use data improve their marketing ROI 15-20%. Looking at data will help you focus your attention on your highest-performing channels and highest-converting customer bases.

You got a lot of website hits from your Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday campaigns. Don’t let them go to waste. Use retargeting to pull in more sales after Thanksgiving Day.

Want even more insights to help you launch your digital advertising December campaigns? Then get our 2018 Holiday Advertising Guide.

DOWNLOAD THE GUIDE

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Amrita Hemdev

Amrita is an inbound marketer. She studied marketing and project management at UC Berkeley and proceeded to work in a fast-paced, digital advertising tech startup, with a goal of increasing brand awareness. She is currently the Content Marketing Specialist at ZypMedia. Passionate about digital marketing and having five years of experience in this field, she also started her digital marketing and creative agency, Sociato, based in India.
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