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Marketplace Insights: UK Retail Insights for 2015 Black Friday, Christmas and Beyond!

Yes. It’s that time of year again to talk about the ‘most wonderful time of the year’: Christmas

Here at Bing Ads, we have been preparing our own perfectly formed gift to you, our valued Retail customers. By boxing up the numbers of the Yahoo Bing Network UK Retail marketplace results from Christmas 2014; perusing the latest market research for clues, so you don’t have to tie yourself up in knots and festive bows. We can now share some of the key insights we’ve seen to give Bing Ads UK retailers the competitive edge this festive season.

UK consumers & retailers have appropriated the US concept of Black Friday

Five years ago If you asked a member of the UK general public what Black Friday was, you would have probably got a blank look of confusion. Today if you were to ask the same question you would receive knowing enthusiastic nods of acknowledgement. Only since Christmas 2013 when ASDA owned Walmart and experimented with their first Black Friday deals two years ago, has the concept of Black Friday taken root in UK shopping culture.

Black friday pic

According to Capgemini, the week of Black Friday last year made up 17% of the total Christmas Sales in the UK. This fact only is an indicator of how important it is to take advantage of the timing and prepare ahead for any upswing in retail activity.  November will play a big part of the holiday season this year, so make sure you don’t miss out. IMRG reported that Black Friday exceeded Cyber Monday in terms of retail spend and sites visited. A whopping £810m was spent online during Black Friday last year vs. £720m on Cyber Monday.

A curious fact; Brits are still suspicious of delivery reliability, as 56% of online orders from Black Friday were collected in the shop rather than having them delivered directly to the home. However, despite Black Friday leading the trends in retail sites visited and online sales, it’s important to note that both days represent increased mobile activity: 45% of online sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday were driven by Mobile commerce.

Bing Ads advice is to prepare for those early mobile shoppers and take advantage of the flurry of sales at the end of November, particularly for Black Friday. Remember, Black Friday this year takes place on the 27th November and Cyber Monday takes place on the 30th November.

Retail Xmas insights pic 2

The above chart gives us an analysis of the overall retail searches indexed to the average daily volume in Sept 2014 for all retail queries, including all retail sub categories. 

  • Search queries start to peak at 17% in the first week of October, however retail really starts to kick off during the months of November and December as the number of queries increases 45% for the final two months of the year. Make sure you prepare your retail campaigns early on for this expected increase.
  • We see an uplift 2 times the relative average in Sept during the week of Black Friday and Cyber Monday – the biggest peak of the season in the UK so watch out for thee big days!
  • Black Friday is a big day for mobile users with peaks up to 6 times the mobile average in September
  • We see a slight dip during the week of Christmas, however, searches spike right back up again on Boxing day. Boxing day sees the 2nd highest peak for all devices as all up retail queries nearly doubles the average September levels.
  • The first week of January also sees an uplift of nearly 25% in terms of retail queries, perhaps due to the sales in the new year

Retail xmas insights pic 3

Do people search differently on Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

Here we have the hourly view of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which displays the search volume of retail intent queries relative to the average hourly volume in Sept 2015.

It’s clear that people start searching early in the morning on Friday—even as early as 5am! A majority of the search activity on Cyber Monday tends to take place in the afternoon and continues to increase in the evening. Whilst Black Friday is about getting in there first, Cyber Monday is about getting the most out of the last deals available.

  • Mobile searches are up x9 the night before Black Friday, with the biggest uplift at 7am on Black Friday
  • Tablet searches are evening based with searches peaking to nearly 5x the average at 7-8pm on Black Friday and Cyber Monday
  • Desktop searching occurs the most in the morning of Black Friday from 7am – 11am, peaking an average of x4 

As a caveat, last year we saw an average increase of 31% in automated paused campaigns during the week of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, due to automated daily budget capping. Manage your budget caps carefully during the last week of November and ensure that you don’t exhaust your budget before the end of the day when many conversions take place.  The new automated rules functionality within Bing Ads should prevent campaigns unnecessarily going offline, you can now auto manage your budgets and bids whilst remaining competitive in a much more efficient and scalable way.

Don’t forget Shopping Ads…

If you are an online retailer and you want to get maximum exposure for your entire catalogue during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Boxing Day and beyond; then why not try the newly launched Bing Ads Shopping Campaigns.

Thank you for reading, we hope you found the insights and strategies helpful. The above tips are top-level tasters of what you may expect in the UK retail Marketplace this festive season.

For a deeper insight into ad copy analysis, optimization tactics and in-depth retail trends for your campaign, download our Christmas insights deck.