Facebook PMD Marin Software on Retailers’ Holiday Ad Strategies: You’re Doing It Wrong

For retailers, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are by far the two most important days of the holiday shopping season, and their ad-spending patterns reflect that, but when it comes to advertising on Facebook, that strategy may not be the most effective, according to a new study by Marin Software, a Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer.

NovemberCalendarPage650For retailers, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are by far the two most important days of the holiday shopping season, and their ad-spending patterns reflect that, but when it comes to advertising on Facebook, that strategy may not be the most effective, according to a new study by Marin Software, a Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer.

Marin Software analyzed the performances of its retail advertising clients during the 2013 holiday shopping season, and it found that while their campaigns focused on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the day that delivered the best results for them was Nov. 12, roughly two weeks before Thanksgiving.

According to Marin Software’s analysis, click-through rates for its retail clients’ Facebook ads Nov. 12 of last year were a whopping 1,620 percent higher than Black Friday CTRs and 855 percent higher than Cyber Monday’s total.

In terms of ad click volume, Nov. 12, 2013, saw 60 percent more clicks than Black Friday and double the total of Cyber Monday. Marin Software added that the day with the highest number of Facebook ad clicks during last year’s holiday shopping season was Christmas Eve, at 472 percent higher than Black Friday.

Marin Software senior product marketing manager Daniel Morris spoke with AllFacebook about his company’s findings, noting that while ad spending is the highest from around Dec. 10 through Christmas, CTRs and ad click volume on Facebook tend to taper off after mid-November and, after a significant spike just prior to Christmas Eve, they tend to remain down until around mid-January.

Morris suggested that retailers use Facebook as their awareness builder, firing up their campaigns prior to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and then use other channels, such as search, closer to the actual dates. He told AllFacebook:

There is a huge, huge gap between what advertisers are doing and how users are behaving. The data suggest that something is not optimal.

And Marin Software said in its study:

When examining Facebook user behavior during the holiday period, it becomes apparent that retail advertisers may be missing the mark with their holiday advertising budgets from a timing perspective. While overall e-commerce spending trends suggest that retailers should be investing heavily around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, Facebook ad engagement trends suggest the inverse: Facebook retail advertisers may want to invest more before and after the holidays. In 2013, CTRs for retail advertisers on Facebook were relatively high two weeks before Thanksgiving and then tapered off during the holiday week. While CTRs increased for a short period right before Christmas, they did not fully revive until after New Year’s Day.

Similarly, retail advertisers experienced the highest volume of Facebook clicks not during the holiday period, but just after. While advertisers did experience a rapid increase in Facebook clicks for the three days leading up to Christmas, only after New Year’s Day did Facebook advertising clicks begin to gradually increase. In general, the highest volumes of post-holiday advertising clicks occurred in spurts between Thursdays and Mondays in January. These trends suggest a clear gap between the assumptions retail advertisers make about Facebook usage over the holiday season and how Facebook users actually use the platform during this critical time period. Rather than investing heavily on days when competition is high and Facebook usage is low, retail advertisers should instead consider investing more before and after the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Trends suggest that Facebook usage takes a sharp dip on holidays, when users are likely spending time with their friends and family. However, retail advertisers still have the opportunity to reach users in early November, before they shift into holiday mode, and build awareness for their products and services, which they could potentially buy on other channels. Also, retailers should consider targeting Facebook users throughout January, when people generally have holiday gift cards to spend.

Morris said in a press release announcing the results of the study:

Facebook advertising is a performance marketer’s dream. As the network’s ad offerings have matured, sophisticated advertisers are no longer viewing Facebook as a site for measuring nebulous factors like engagement. More and more, performance marketers understand Facebook’s unique position in the buyer’s online journey. Recognizing Facebook’s role and relationship with complementary search and display campaigns, advertisers are adjusting their creative and spend to convert audiences across seasons, channels and devices. For example, using Marin Software’s Audience Marketing Suite, a retailer could run a Facebook campaign leading up to Thanksgiving week, segment consumers who clicked on the Facebook ads and then retarget those active consumers during the busy holiday week on search and display channels where they are more likely to convert.

Readers: Did the findings by Marin Software surprise you?

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