Jon Fletcher
Jon Fletcher 19 December 2019

Black Friday 2019: ECPMs Still Rising For Mobile Publishers

Publisher data shows an average increase in revenue of over 50%. It can feel like Black Friday is losing its dark draw for many people. There are fewer reports of till-side chaos or stampedes for marked-down technology.

Consumer reports have even shown that fewer than 1 in 20 Black Friday deals are genuine. But, the world goes one way, people another. 

2019’s Black Friday was reported to be bigger for retailers than ever. By mid-morning on November 29, Barclaycard was reporting a 12.5% increase in transaction levels from the same time in 2018. According to data compiled by Adobe Analytics, online sales are also up— about 20% from last year. Total retail spends hit $7.4 billion online on Friday, and $9.4 billion on ‘Cyber-Monday’.

As well as shoppers and e-commerce sites, Black Friday is also a crucial time for advertisers and the publishers that host them. Serving up to a billion sessions a month, Marfeel analysed the last three Black Fridays to see how valuable it is for publishers, what the trends suggest for the future, and what the data shows us about the role of mobile advertising on commerce and publishing.

For publishers, it’s bigger than ever. 

2019 saw the average revenue generated by each visitor to a publishers’ site increased by over 50% compared to the Wednesday leading up to Black Friday. Comparing the entire month of November to another 30-day period in the same year, November saw an average ARPU increase of 26%, showing the effect that Black Friday radiates out through the whole month.

Major boosts to eCPMs and ARPU during Black Friday weekend. 

Compared with the week prior, publishers saw an average increase of 27% in ARPU (average revenue per user) and a 28% increase in ECPMs over the same period. This is up from 2018, which saw a less pronounced 20% rise in eCPMs from the week leading up to Black Friday. The rise can be attributed to the role of mobile content as a supplementary research tool for shoppers in physical stores and the convenience of online purchases.

Taylor Saccharine, principal analyst and head of Adobe Digital Insights said: “With Christmas now rapidly approaching, consumers increasingly jumped on their phones rather than standing in line. Advertisers know this and are treating mobile ad space as a valuable position to occupy to capture both online shoppers and those looking for inspiration."  

Less Friday-Focused.

The graphs below show the rise in ARPU across November. There is a clear pattern. Even as recently as 2017, the ‘Black-Friday’ effect was more focused on that single day. Ad competition was relatively level before a major spike on Friday and across the weekend.

By 2018, the build-up is more pronounced and the drop-off is sharper. Advertisers want to spend their budget before or as close to during the event as possible. By 2019, this trend extends to almost all of November. Advertisers know that shoppers will be researching the event beforehand.

By the time Friday arrives, decisions have been made. Advertisers don’t want to pay the highest prices to advertise on Friday when for a lot of consumers, it’s too late. 

Advertisers are now competing to capture the anticipation in the build-up, for the lower eCPMS earlier in the month, and to motivate shoppers’ decisions on the day. By the end of November, the drop-off in ARPU is more pronounced as advertisers bring down budgets in order to pace out the run-up to Christmas.  Screenshot-2019-12-09-at-12-51-11.png

Traffic, engagement, and CTRs all static.

The rise in publisher revenue suggests that advertising is more valuable at this time. CNBC’s analysis of the weekend suggested that ‘The jump in cyber activity is a sign that consumers are becoming more comfortable buying larger items at discount prices without going to the store.’’

While this may be true, we can see readers are still not clicking more ads. Every benefit for publishers is due to increased competition for their ad space. Traffic, engagement stats like session time and page views, and ad click-through rates all stayed level or had minor dips throughout the Black Friday Weekend.

Readers are spending more and more but readers are not going through more articles, staying on the page longer, or even clicking more ads. With results still working for advertisers, it seems that brand awareness, making consumers consider your products during the lead up to Black Friday is the goal. With a chaotic weekend of options and stimuli, direct sales from ads are hard to track so advertisers just want to be in front of as many eyes as possible. 

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