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Black Friday & Cyber Monday Recap: Search Ads Drove Big Retail Gains

The dust seems to have finally settled on the long holiday weekend, and according to several reports both formal and informal, that dust is largely colored green. Green, as in money: transactions, average order size, revenue, and other metrics are widely reported as being up this year compared to 2009. Here’s a recap of several reports related to paid search ads, online holiday shopping, and so forth.

Kenshoo: Budgets, Transactions, Revenues Up

Kenshoo, a provider of digital marketing software that’s used by five of the top 10 US retailers, says search advertising boomed during the month leading up to, and including, the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend. In its first Online Holiday Shopping Report, Kenshoo says search ad budgets, transactions, and revenue were all up this year:

Overall, for the 26-day period ending with Cyber Monday, 2010 search advertising budgets were up 31% compared to 2009. Total online sales transactions increased 83% during this time, resulting in 60% more online sale revenue for retailers.

The company’s report compares 2009 and 2010 on a variety of search-related ad metrics. Here are pair of charts showing search ad click-thru rates and search ad sales revenue broken down over several timeframes.


Kenshoo’s report lists six trends uncovered from its data:

  1. The Holiday Shopping Season is Starting Earlier
  2. Online Shoppers are More Responsive to Paid Search Advertising
  3. Consumers are Buying More Often With Smaller Basket Sizes
  4. Paid Search Advertisers Have Increased Effectiveness
  5. Thanksgiving is Now “Cyber Kickoff Day”
  6. Competition for Retailers Peaks on Cyber Monday

SearchIgnite: Black Friday Beats Cyber Monday

SearchIgnite, a search advertising agency that manages more than $1 billion in ad spend for its clients, reports that Black Friday far outpaced Cyber Monday this year:

Consumers spent nearly 90% more compared to Black Friday 2009. In a positive sign that confidence is back, consumers also spent more per transaction this year, with a 24% increase in Average Order Values YoY. To heavily promote Black Friday deals, and to capture more consumer dollars in the competitive retail environment, U.S. retailers increased their spend on paid search advertising 47% YoY.

SearchIgnite says Black Friday advertisers saw year-over-year growth in revenue from search, PPC spend, and average order value. Cyber Monday growth wasn’t nearly as high, and average order value was actually down 7.5% this year.


comScore: Cyber Monday Biggest Online Shopping Day Ever

In its look at online shopping patterns overall (not just relative to paid search as above), comScore says Cyber Monday was the busiest online shopping day ever, with more than $1 billion spent in the US.


According to comScore’s research, there were 4% more online shoppers this Cyber Monday than in 2009, and those shoppers spent an average of $114 each — up 12% from a year ago.

Experian Hitwise: Amazon, Wal-Mart Top Shopping Sites

Experian Hitwise focused on individual web sites and categories that did the best over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping weekend. On both of those days, Hitwise says the top 500 retail sites saw traffic increases compared to 2009 — to the tune of a 13% increase on Black Friday and a 16% increase on Cyber Monday. Here’s a look at the Cyber Monday chart showing the top retail sites.


The top five retailers were the same on Black Friday as you see above.


By all accounts above, search advertising and e-commerce in general has had a great holiday season so far, and there are still about three weeks to go before Christmas. Even outside of the primary research companies and the formal studies discussed above, there’s anecdotal evidence to consider, too: George Michie of the Rimm-Kaufman Group (and a Search Engine Land columnist) recently posted on the company’s blog that retail results he saw over Black Friday and Cyber Monday were “off the charts,” with gains between 50% and 150% this year compared to 2009. And there are a few comments on that post from others seeing similar results.

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