How to make the most/avoid the worst of Black Friday

Rob Laver | 30th November 2021 | Paid Media

It’s that time of year once again. Christmas is looming and despite your best efforts to focus on this and plans for 2022, you’ve still got one other major calendar event to navigate your PPC campaigns through – Black Friday.

Now for some businesses, Black Friday isn’t really a consideration. After all, if you’re not selling products B2C, why would it affect you? Well, you’d be surprised at the potential impact (albeit indirect) it can have on your campaign, especially during the age of smart bidding.

In this article, we’ve provided some FAQs on the best ways to make the most of Black Friday if you’re taking part, and how to avoid any unwanted negative impact if you’re not.

When is Black Friday?

Friday 26 November is the official date, followed by Cyber Monday on 29 November. However, Black Friday sales start earlier and earlier each year, in a bid to get ahead of competition, so many are already active. 

And before you ask, it’s never too late to start preparing. Yes, ideally you would start as early as possible, but it’s also something that needs reacting to in real time, especially with online behaviour being particularly unpredictable at the moment.

When is the best time to spend my budget?

The answer to this question will be different for every business, and comes down to when you start to see a return on investment that is acceptable for the discounts you’re offering. If you’re seeing a good ROI before the weekend itself, it can be risky to hold off on going aggressive with spend, as cost per clicks are likely to rise. By the same token, you may find that nothing is really happening until the day itself, in which case you shouldn’t blow all your budget too early.

Looking back at UK interest last year, searches start building up from the week before, but the reality is that most people are searching and looking for deals on the Friday itself:

How do I stand out among all the noise?

There’s lots of different tactics you can employ to ensure your adverts stand out during a period of increased competition. Here’s a few tips:

  • Create a clear message for your customers. Something like ‘up to 40% off all items’ is much easier to connect with than having multiple, product-specific offers thrown at you. If you do have very specific offers on, choose the most attractive and run with that to get people coming to your site
  • Use countdowns in your adverts, to inject some urgency. Are you more likely to feel compelled to buy something if the advert says ‘available from 27-30 Nov’ or ‘be quick, sale ends in 6 hours’? Countdowns can be employed on Google Search ads with a dynamic hourly countdown:
  • Create bespoke audience lists. Retargeting can be really powerful at this time of year, but how can you be sure you’re hitting those people with the highest intent? Create audience lists based on visits in the past 48 hours, and ensure that you increase bids aggressively for these lists over the Black Friday weekend.

What if I’m not taking part?

If you’re a B2C business (particularly a B2C retailer) not taking part, then Black Friday is still likely to affect most of your campaigns in terms of the amount you have to pay to remain visible. With smart bidding now the norm, platforms like Google and Facebook have to compensate for the additional competition for placements by increasing everyone’s bids. So the question is this: how big a priority is it to remain as visible during the Black Friday period?

For B2B businesses, the areas most likely to be impacted are retargeting and image/video-based advertising. Anything involving a placement on YouTube, Facebook or Google Display will be subject to increased competition. The reason for this is relatively simple – people are often targeted based on their interests and historical behaviour, rather than the content they’re viewing. This means that several very different businesses could be competing for the same placement in front of a given person – some based on their professional interests, some on their personal interests:

For any business, the best way to avoid escalating costs is to either scale back the aggressiveness of your bid strategy for a short time, or plan for the increase if it’s key to stay visible. The latter strategy has an added benefit: if you find everything remains fairly flat, nothing is lost.

So whether you’re actively taking part in Black Friday or not, the best advice we can give is to just be aware, and monitor your budgets and cost per clicks for any big changes. At the very least, it’ll give you some insight for Black Friday 2022 (which will come round sooner than you think!), rather than the data getting lost in the overall stats for November.

Want cutting-edge digital news and tips straight to your inbox? Sign up to our monthly newsletter here

"*" indicates required fields


Looking for a new role?

Join our team