December 22, 2023

Written by Kurt Anagnostopoulos

Cyber Week 2023: Lessons Learned

The numbers are in: Cyber Week 2023 exceeded expectations. Adobe Analytics, the authority on Cyber Week retail spending, has reported the following:

  • Online consumer spending increased 7.8 percent.
  • Sales on Cyber Monday jumped a better-than-expected 9.6 percent to a record $12.4 billion.
  • Black Friday generated $9.8 billion in U.S. online sales, up 7.5 percent from a year ago.

All the numbers above exceeded Adobe’s expectations. So, no matter how you slice the numbers, consumers supported retailers with online spending.

Lessons Learned

Each Cyber Week presents advertisers with lessons learned, and 2023 is no exception. Here are some takeaways from my perspective:

  • Trust only your own data. Leading up to the holidays, economists warned of a bleak holiday shopping season. “Recession wary” consumers were expected to hold back. They did not. The only data that matters is verifiable first-party data. Businesses that listened to their own data and planned their advertising spend and inventory levels accordingly were ready.
  • Cyber Week habits remain unchanged: deals rule. Cyber Week has always been about deals. Why else would anyone spend part of their holiday weekend glued to their laptops and mobile devices? Sure enough, discounted items such as Hot Wheels toys, PlayStation 5, smart watches, and kitchen appliances carried Cyber Week. Vivek Pandya, lead analyst at Adobe Digital Insights, was quoted as saying, “The record online spending across Cyber Week . . . shows the impact that discounts can have on consumer demand, especially with quality products that drove a lot of impulse shopping.” And I can guarantee you the same will hold true during Cyber Week 2024. Retailers might not like having to discount so much, but this is the reality. Online advertising and paid search that focuses on discounts and deals will continue to drive the strongest performance.
  • Retailers need to think beyond Cyber Week. One of the ongoing questions about the holiday shopping season is whether consumers have an appetite for both Cyber Week and the Black Friday-style deals touted by Amazon, Target, Walmart, and other retailers throughout November in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. Well, Amazon answered that question: Amazon experienced a surge in sales during the pre-Cyber Monday shopping period, marking its most successful holiday shopping event to date, according to company reports. Consumers flocked to Amazon in search of deals and discounts. While specific sales figures were not disclosed, the company revealed that shoppers worldwide purchased more than 1 billion items during the 11-day period from November 17 to Cyber Monday, surpassing the previous year’s record. Amazon’s results are especially important because Amazon technically kicked off the holiday shopping season with Prime Day in October. Prime Day got consumers primed, indeed! It’s clear now that advertisers need to align their online advertising with a holiday season that begins well in advance of Cyber Week. This means moderating online search and advertising with shopping surges that will happen during your peak sales days from November on for most retailers.

What Advertisers Should Do

It’s never too early to plan for the 2024 holiday shopping season. Here are some suggestions based on 2023 numbers so far:

  • Start your campaign early. Start your holiday marketing campaign early to capture shoppers’ attention before they start making their purchases.
  • Use a variety of ad formats. Use a variety of ad formats, such as search ads, display ads, and social media ads, to reach a wider audience that is obviously comfortable searching and buying online. There is no single path to the consumer.
  • Offer attractive discounts: Deep discounts on a wide range of products were a key driver for the record online sales. Consider offering substantial discounts on popular items to attract consumers.
  • Expand product range: Categories like beauty products, toys, and electronics were particularly popular. Ensure your campaign covers a diverse range of products to cater to varied consumer interests.
  • Rely on “Buy Now, Pay Later” options: Adobe reported a surge in “Buy Now, Pay Later” services, which indicates that consumers are looking for flexible payment options. Incorporating these services in your campaign can attract budget-conscious shoppers.
  • Personalize your marketing based on your own data: Use data analytics to understand consumer preferences and tailor your marketing efforts to match these trends. As noted above, economists continue to get it wrong when they predict consumer shopping behavior. Listen to your own data, and personalize your approach.

At True Interactive, we can help you plan successful online advertising strategies all year round. Learn more about out services on our website.

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