PMX Holiday Weekend Update: What’s Happening in Paid Social?

PMX Paid Social teams are waking up this morning with a sense of relief, after quite a hectic week with Facebook marred by Ads Manager crashing and many ad disapprovals without cause, requiring teams to appeal for manual reviews. We want to send a big thanks to the teams who put in the extra work to make sure our advertisers’ presence was felt across the Facebook, Instagram newsfeed and Stories formats. When the dust settles, it’s possible that retailers will note that there were just a bit fewer shoppers busting down their doors for deals, as retailers gave shoppers the option to shop and save either online or in store. Black Friday and Cyber Monday seem to have morphed into one, seemingly indistinguishable event that begins on Thanksgiving, if not earlier. Black Friday deals are not yet over either, as many “Black Friday” promotions will remain live through the end of Cyber Monday. Let’s take a look at the ways that some advertisers were competing for their share of Black Friday week spending.

Observations

Social Causes: Some brands began their week promoting their charitable support of social causes, highlighting a percentage of sales that each purchase made with the brand would go to support. With consumers increasingly choosing brands that contribute to the common good, highlighting these causes in advance of Black Friday week may have helped shoppers decide where they would spend, and which brands were most deserving of their loyalty.

Tiered Discounts: We saw a lot of brands incentivizing basket sizes with tiered discounts, offering bigger price breaks for bigger orders.

Returns: Savvy DTC brands focused on getting the most aggressive with their shipping and return policies. This year we saw challenger, mid-price point apparel brands offering Black Friday week offers, in combination with free shipping, and 365-day return windows.

Amazon continues to compete on Facebook to drive up its share of Black Friday revenue. Their strategy consisted of category specific dynamic ads with “Discover our deals, best sellers, and more during Black Friday!” messaging. They used dynamic overlays to highlight the many products that were listed as their “Deal of the day”. Their category specific DPA ad strategy included photography, toys & games, furniture, and electronics, in addition to ads specifically highlighting their own Echo, Dot, Fire Stick, Fire Tablet, and Kindle products. Amazon’s Black Friday deals and ads are still live as of Saturday Morning.

PMX Agency Insights

Overall, many of our advertisers beat their forecasts for revenue and traffic attributed to Facebook, with the consensus coming in at +5-10%. Much of this increase was driven by stronger than expected traffic volume, average order value (AOV), and ability to spend in Dynamic retargeting ads.

  • This success came in spite of stronger competition on the platform, with CPMs increasing by 10% – 60% vs non-holiday benchmarks
    • In fact, in many cases we observed higher CPMs on Thanksgiving than on Black Friday. This is likely a function of consumer time spent on the platform, with Reach and Impression increases on Black Friday vs. Thanksgiving, when much of America was around dinner tables, and hopefully away from their phones more than usual
  • While CPCs increased in line with CPMs, Click-Thru-Rates were often well above 2% and increased 9% vs non-holiday benchmarks
  • Consumers used Facebook as a product and brand discovery tool:
    • Consumers clicked on ads from FB to .com in ~30% of conversion attributable to Facebook
    • An ad view was the last touch in ~70% of conversions attributable to Facebook
  • Many PMX Agency advertisers seized this opportunity, increasing budget by ~30% starting just before Thanksgiving vs the rest of November

Recommendations

Keep the pedal to the metal! Many advertisers are already pacing hot this Saturday morning, especially in retargeting pools. Consumers know that deals are still live, and many of us are waking up this morning regretting the items we considered but didn’t purchase, much more than what we did buy – especially thanks to those return policies.

  • Ensure that your promo messaging is clear on all ads (including evergreen strategies that are still live).
  • Enhance dynamic ad creative with overlays, backgrounds and strong copy to make sure your ads are thumb stopping to stand out from the clutter.
  • Utilize Stories formats as part of your placement optimization strategy. Advertising is under-pacing consumer adoption, so utilizing Stories can help keep costs down and increase reach.
  • Begin your retention strategies now. Offer free gift cards tiered by basket size and incentivize your first-time purchasers to sign up for your email list. Execute on this by building CRM lists and Custom Audiences
  • Utilize dynamic ads for broad audiences to prospect new consumers who are shopping for items that are similar to those in your feed. This will be a significant source of qualified incremental traffic.
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