Over the holidays, advertisers spend more money targeting online consumers than any other time of year. Digital ad spend in 2015 surpassed $3BN and CPMs continued to rise- particularly on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Using the Sovrn publisher base of more than 20,000 online publishers and more than 100,000 sites as a proxy for the open web, we observed that display and mobile web CPMs increased significantly this Black Friday and Cyber Monday versus 2014. During the holiday rush, we saw CPMs increase 17% for Black Friday and 24% for Cyber Monday over 2014, signaling strong demand for online ad inventory. On a whole, ad dollars seem to be migrating to Cyber Monday at a faster rate than Black Friday as evidenced by the significant CPM increase year over year.
To maximize on the holiday advertising rush, online publishers needed to make sure that advertisers know that they have high quality, viewable, human audiences. On the flip side, to take advantage of engaged consumers, advertisers should look to Private Marketplace Deals (PMPs) to reach exclusive audience interest segments and get access to inventory higher in the ad waterfall.
During the week prior to Black Friday, CPMs were up 26% in 2015 from 2014. This points to a transition from specific shopping days to a deal driven pre-Christmas shopping season. During this time, advertisers are bid on online inventory in an effort to reach and encourage shoppers to increase their spend over the Thanksgiving Holiday and Cyber Monday.
While there could be other forces driving up seasonal CPMs as ad blocking and viewability, seasonal demand for ad space is clearly on the upswing. To control costs in times of high demand, advertisers can use deals to lock in fixed CPMs.
Cyber Monday keeps growing. Advertisers have shifted ad spend to Cyber Monday as shopping migrated online from in-store purchases.Cyber Monday sales this year reached $3.19 billion – the first time over $3 billion – resulting in a 23% annual gain compared to the $2.586 billion spent in 2014.1 This year Cyber Monday was the biggest U.S. online shopping day of the year.
The shift in consumer spending preference from in-store to digital channels to shop and research products, compare pricing and make purchases is driving retailers to shift their focus to digital. In order to extend the online shopping cycle into the Christmas season, retailers extended Cyber Monday deals and added new online promotions. The number of Cyber Monday shoppers who purchased on desktop grew by 12% year over year, while mobile sales grew by an astounding 53% -representing 27% of total Cyber Monday sales.5 Mobile keeps growing – fast. According to CEA’s survey a record 74% of consumers were expected to use their smartphones, cell phones or tablets while shopping during the Thanksgiving holiday [ref] http://www.eweek.com/small-business/mobile-apps-changing-consumer-shopping-habits.html [/ref].
While mobile is on the rise, display is still king in ad tech since display CPMs are increasing more than mobile CPMs. For mobile impressions, Black Friday CPMs increased 14%, Cyber Monday CPMs increased 13% and CPMs for the week before Thanksgiving increased 14% versus 2014. For display, Black Friday CPMs increased 27%, Cyber Monday CPMs increased 25% and CPMs for the week before Thanksgiving increased 35% versus 2014.
CPMs for specific affinity sites increased at faster rate than general sites. For example, CPMs for sites in the Sovrn Women’s index increased 76% for Black Friday in 2015 versus 2014 and 74% for Cyber Monday 2015 versus 2014. This is because advertisers sought to reach the key Women’s demographic, traditionally known to be the primary holiday shoppers. This demographic comprised 59% of Cyber Monday buyers and spent 61.6% of the dollars. [ref] http://www.pfsweb.com/blog/cyber-monday-2015-results-infographic/ [/ref]
CPMs for Sovrn automotive sites jumped 68% on Black Friday and 61% on Cyber Monday as auto brands and dealers sought to move last years models off their lots to make room for 2016 models. CPMs for sites in sovrn’s Arts and Media category increased 14% on Black Friday and 17% on Cyber Monday. The increase in CPMs for targeted sites signifies publishers need to make data-driven targeting available within their ad inventory to improve CPM’s and meet advertisers increasing need for granular targeting.
In order to reach and drive demand from specific consumer groups advertisers should increasingly leverage audience targeting often bundled with media through mechanisms like deal ID. A deal ID is a number that is assigned to a specific deal and used to identify the deal between the buyer and the seller. The deal ID is passed as an object in the bid request from seller to buyer. The deal ID can be used the convey specific information – for example bid requests passed containing deal ID 17345 are auto intenders, or bid requests passed with deal ID 46275 are on a site categorized as a Woman’s interest page with high historical viewability.
The upward CPM trend for this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday was not limited to display and mobile. According to SalesForce data, Facebook’s Black Friday CPM’s increased 56% from $5.35 in 2014 to $8.35 in 2015 and Cyber Monday CPMs were up 42% from $6.10 in 2014 to $8.68 in 2015. [ref] https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2015/12/black-friday-cyber-monday-advertising-facebook.html [/ref]
The retail sales results of the increased CPMs were mixed. Offline, in-store sales for Thanksgiving were forecasted to be down 4.7% on a 5.1% decline of in-store traffic according to RetailNext. [ref] http://retailnext.net/press-release/retail-store-results-thanksgiving-black-friday-2015/ [/ref]
What’s evident is that advertisers continue to value and want to reach the engaged consumers who frequent the independent web.