Although Facebook hasn’t always been viewed as a destination for shopping, the platform brought in substantial revenue for retail brands this holiday season.

According to Facebook, from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, November 23-27, more than 130 million people worldwide joined the conversation to boast about deals they found online or share in holiday purchases.

Credit: Facebook

Facebook revealed that Small Business Saturday surprisingly outpaced Cyber Monday, (though Black Friday held the most conversation).

Credit: Facebook

While we can take a look at Facebook’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday trends from an overall perspective, we also wanted to dive into our own data and see how our clients compared year-over-year (YoY).

We analyzed CPC Strategy clients that we managed between 2016 and 2017 to see how they held up over the holiday weekend.

Check out our client recap below:

Facebook Experts React to Holiday Sales

In the meantime, we’ve compiled a list of the major trends that stood out to our marketers on Facebook during Black Friday / Cyber Monday this year.

1. Dip in sales prior to Thanksgiving Day

The first trend we noticed leading up to the weekend prior to Black Friday was a slight dip in sales.

What this indicates is that the days leading up to Thanksgiving customers were holding off on making purchases, most likely to figure out which products they would buy later in the week.

“Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday leading up to Thanksgiving were lower in terms of return but on Thanksgiving day, sales started to pick up,” Sarah Rogers, Manager, Performance Social at CPC Strategy

facebook audience network

2. Focus on “extended sales offers”

Another trend to note is that retail brands are starting to become inundated with the idea that Black Friday, isn’t JUST Black Friday anymore – it’s more of a focus on the entire Cyber Week.

Facebook advertisers are focusing more on the long-term promotion rather than just running specials on those specific 2 days (Cyber Monday /Black Friday).

At CPC Strategy, we have also seen a similar trend across channels like Google Shopping and Amazon.

3. Inventory Stockouts Halt Sales

We see it every year – brands hurt by inventory stockouts.

Sometimes retailers are so focused on advertising campaigns and creative, that they fail to properly prepare themselves for high volume shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Did your brand miss the mark on inventory this year?

It’s not too late to check out our “Strategic Inventory Planning” webinar for more information on how to stay competitive through Q4 and into Q1.

4. Campaign Preparation

We saw a variety of successful promos – including free shipping to 40% off the entire site. But one of the main components to being successful on Black Friday was having campaigns properly planned out in advance.

Although Facebook approval is usually pretty quick, it was vital to have every campaign prepared and buttoned up in advance of Cyber week to avoid any unexpected issues.

“Because the Facebook ad review process is manual, you have to keep in the mind approval can run into delays. Ads that would normally be reviewed within a day, could take up to 72 hours,” Rogers said.

According to our client pool (US only):

  • Thanksgiving Day sales were very strong with low CPCs in relation to Black Friday & Cyber Monday.
  • Although Black Friday had the highest return, CPCs dramatically increased.
  • CPCs on Cyber Monday also jumped significantly (compared to Black Friday).

“What this tells me is that although competition was at its peak on Cyber Monday, we actually saw better return on Thanksgiving and Black Friday,” Rogers said. “And in general, I think the majority of advertisers started their promotions much earlier this year.”

Finds for Facebook Audience Types:

Time period: (Black Friday through Cyber Monday 2017)

    • First party audiences performed significantly better than any other audience type (aka more than double the average return). They also had the highest click-through-rate.
    • Email audiences had the highest CPCs.
    • Look-alike audiences had the highest average order value (25% higher) compared to the remaining audiences.


Thoughts on Q1 Preparation:

A common misconception we see among retail brands is the desire to prematurely dial back their advertising budgets in January, but Q1 represents an enormous opportunity for revenue due to returns, gift cards, and cash in hand.

“January is massive for our clients. In some cases we’ve seen significantly better results in January than any other time of the year because CPCs tend to be lower and a lot of brands have the ability to push “new year” promotions,” Rogers said.

“At least in theory, Q4 is a time to spend on other people and Q1 is when you start to see people purchasing for themselves.”

For more on Facebook advertising Black Friday and Cyber Monday, email [email protected]

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