Media Insights

Cyber Week 2023: Winning Tactics and Industry Takeaways

Curious about the major trends that emerged from Cyber Week? Our experts analyzed performance across industries and channels. From their research, a few major themes emerged, which can guide brands and agencies for the rest of the season and into 2024. Read on for the details.  

Cyber Week Industry Performance 

We’ve got good news for brands: in total, sales were up, compared to last year. Black Friday sales increased by 2.5%1, and Cyber Monday sales increased by 9.6% to a record-breaking $12.4B.2 The categories that saw the highest increase in sales from the previous months were Electronics, Apparel, Jewelry, and Appliances.3

Cyber Week 2023 Consumer Behavior Trends

Black Friday, which has historically focused on in-store deals, is shifting more towards online shopping: in-store Black Friday sales were up 1.1%, while online Black Friday sales were up 8.5%.1 Mobile commerce is helping drive this change. More than half of Black Friday online revenue came from mobile shopping, an increase of 10.4%.4

Consumers were looking for deals during the peak shopping days, a trend consistent throughout 2023. Many waited for Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday deals to ensure they received the best prices. 

Buy Now, Pay Later services (BNPL) have steadily grown over the past few years as consumers try to stretch their budgets. This season, they continued to play a large role. Usage increased 47% on Black Friday and 42.5% on Cyber Monday.7

Implications for The Holiday Season

Take note: this is the longest Holiday shopping season since 2018. There are 32 shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. Meaning? People will be considering purchases and seeking out deals for a long time. Look for opportunities to drive revenue when your competitors pull back.   

So, how will shipping cutoffs play into Holiday sales? There is one weekend shopping day after shipping cutoffs and before Christmas. While ecommerce has dominated the season, we expect in-store sales to be very high this day due to last-minute gift purchases. Our recommendation: ensure your marketing budget and flighting plans are ready to support that additional weekend day of in-store shopping. 

Lastly, BNPL services will remain important throughout the season. These services increase demand: for orders using BNPL, the number of items per order was 11% higher than last year.2 If your brand accepts BNPL, take advantage of this! Advertise that you offer BNPL, especially later in the season.

Breaking Down Cyber Week 2023 Performance by Channel 

Ovative experts operate across a variety of channels, from Paid Social to Retail Media to Search. Keep on reading for our channel takeaways. 

Paid Social Cyber Week Performance

As our Paid Social experts monitored daily trends, they observed three primary takeaways.  

  • Black Friday drove higher spend and returns than Cyber Monday. This trend has continued over the past four years.  
  • Similar to 2020 and 2022, Thanksgiving and Black Friday produced the highest Return on Ad Spend, rewarding advertisers who leaned in early.  
  • Some brands also began to adopt a Wednesday heavy-up. The Wednesday ahead of Thanksgiving represented spend and returns that were comparable to the Sunday within Cyber 5.

Paid Search Cyber Week Performance

Our Paid Search experts also witnessed significant growth in revenue and spend on Black Friday.  

  • Consumers continue to shop earlier in the season, pulling sales forward from Cyber Monday.  
  • Regarding Search tactics, Performance Max continues to perform well. It drove the largest spend and revenue YoY scale. Additionally, Google continues to serve shopping ads on more searches and network placements. These tactics drive users directly to product pages to boost conversion rate (CVR).  
  • Brand searches had been trending flat before trending up during Cyber Week. This indicates that consumers held off on purchasing as they waited for holiday sales. 

Retail Media Cyber Week Performance

Preparation was key for our Retail Media experts. Here are their learnings: 

  • While Cyber Week tends to be less critical for CPG brands in the retail media space, increased traffic on Retail Media platforms provides opportunity to increase sales. 
  • Discounts drove sales. More than half of digital shoppers in the U.S. reported paying attention to retail media ads for products that are on sale. 
  • Amazon’s YoY change in product reviews were larger on Thanksgiving than Black Friday, indicating that shopping started earlier this year. The first year of extended deals in the U.S. led to a 18% YoY increase in media sales. 

Affiliate Cyber Week Performance

This year, Affiliate channels played a special role, due to economic conditions. Here’s what our Affiliate experts saw: 

  • Even though Affiliate is primarily an ecommerce tactic, Ovative brands saw the strongest success on Black Friday versus Cyber Monday. Trends had predicted that consumers begin holiday shopping in October. However, performance remained soft heading into Holiday with the strongest conversion on Black Friday. 
  • In the current economy, consumers are driven to convert through Loyalty publishers due to cashback incentives. Loyalty subchannels drove the strongest revenue across Ovative brands. 
  • As indicated above, Buy Now, Pay Later partners—like Klarna, Affirm, and Afterpay— and Influencer Networks—such as LTK and Shoplooks—continue to increase their revenue impact. 

Video and Programmatic Media (VPM) Cyber Week Performance

Coming directly from our VPM experts, here are the wins and learnings from Cyber Week: 

  • Display retargeting drove the largest YoY scale in revenue, as we utilized high-performing channels like Criteo and RTBH. Generally, Display outperformed expectations after battling against signal loss and a down year in 2022. 
  • Leading up to Thanksgiving, demand revenue was slower, implying that buyers were still evaluating their purchases. However, consumer purchasing behavior shifted later in the week, indicating that shoppers were holding off on significant purchases until closer to the holiday and BF/CM deals.  

What’s Next for Marketers? 

In summary, there are still lots of opportunities for brands to take advantage of throughout the remaining holiday season. Want to learn more about how to optimize your channels during Holiday and beyond? Connect with Ovative’s media and measurement experts to help you strategize, build, and execute a successful marketing program for the upcoming year.

Sources: [1] eMarketer; [2] eMarketer; [3] MSNBC; [4] Retail Dive; [5] eMarketer; [6] Adobe; [7] Adobe   


Insights Team

About the Author

Ovative is a digital-first media and measurement firm seeking to transform the measure of marketing success. At Ovative, we help brands move the needle. We are curious. We value your brand. We want to see you succeed. Connect with us to learn more!

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