Data, Tips, and Insights to Finish the Holiday Season Strong

Sovrn Advertising Team // December 7, 2023

The 2023 holiday season is shaping up to be one for the record books, as Cyber Week spending exceeded all expert projections. According to Adobe Analytics:

  • Cyber Monday was the biggest online shopping day of all time, with consumers spending $15.7 million every minute for a total of $12.4 billion (9.6% YoY growth) 
  • Black Friday generated $9.8 billion in US online sales, up 7.5% from 2022
  • Total Cyber Week sales reached $38 billion, up 7.8% YoY

While the season’s biggest shopping days may be behind us, there’s still plenty of time to finish the year strong. But first, you need to understand the big picture trends that are influencing consumer shopping behaviors. So we’ve been crunching the numbers and analyzing the season’s biggest stories, to deliver the insights you need to power your affiliate strategy. 

Following are six key takeaways and actionable tips from Cyber Week, to help set you up for success through the remainder of the holiday season:  

1. Mobile-first strategy 📲

Adobe Analytics reports that mobile shopping accounted for more than half of all online sales (51.8%) throughout Cyber Week — overtaking desktop sales for the first time. As consumers become increasingly comfortable with phone-based buying, they expect an experience on par with desktop shopping. So double-check current best practices for mobile optimization and make sure you’re providing a great mobile experience for your readers. And don’t neglect monetization opportunities on mobile-first channels like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.

2. Simplify price comparisons for gifts 🎁

Our data shows that true “browsing” was rare during Cyber Week; most shoppers already knew what they were looking for. When you’ve got high quality traffic that’s ready to convert, it’s important to simplify the comparison shopping process. With a tool like price comparisons, you can help your readers find the best deal before they click — and improve click-through rates by up to 200%.

3. Capitalize on Discounts and Commissions 📈

Shoppers were hungry for more than turkey during the Thanksgiving holiday, as the National Retail Federation reports that sales and promotions drove 55% of shopping. Retailers were offering deep discounts in response — up to 31% off list price in key certain categories. Adobe predicts deals will continue to linger this month, at levels slightly below their November peak. Affiliate commission rates were also strong during Cyber week, reaching 14% according to our data. We expect retailers will continue to offer elevated rates throughout the month to attract affiliate promotions—so keep an eye on our Featured Promotions spreadsheet for the best deals and rates.

4. Extend Cyber Week Success

Even though the Cyber Week rush has passed, many people are still looking for gifts — and bargains. Historical data shows that elevated shopping activity typically continues until at least mid-December, so put your most attractive deals front and center. Wondering what shoppers are buying this year? According to our data, top performing merchant categories during Cyber Week include: 

  • Departments stores (YoY increase: 25% in clicks and 40% in revenue)
  • Fashion & accessories (YoY increase: 10% in clicks and 13% in revenue)

Adobe also reports strong performance in categories like apparel, toys, electronics, jewelry, and sporting goods.

5. Target key shopping days

The clock is ticking, but you’ve still got time to meet your revenue goals. As shopping activity begins to level off this month, it’s smart to focus your efforts on key days when consumers are most likely to be shopping, including:

  • Hanukkah (December 7-15), the Jewish Festival of Lights, with eight days of festive foods, songs, storytelling, and gift giving. 
  • Free Shipping Day (December 14), when thousands of online retailers offer free shipping—often with no minimum order requirement—and guarantee delivery before Christmas. 
  • Super Saturday (December 23), a “bonus” weekend shopping day because Christmas falls on a Monday, could be a big opportunity for retailers to attract last-minute shoppers.
  • Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (December 24-25), which have seen a huge increase in last-minute mobile shopping and digital gift card purchases.
  • Boxing Day (December 26), a traditional UK holiday that has evolved into one of the biggest shopping days of the year, as retailers worldwide offer deep discounts to minimize post-Christmas inventory.

6. Optimize your holiday strategy with Sovrn

The holidays are the most critical time of year for publishers—but you’re not alone when you partner with Sovrn. We have all the tools and resources you need to make 2023 your best year ever.

  • Our Featured Promotions spreadsheet highlights deals from Top 100 merchants, including promotion details and average commission rate. And it’s updated in real time to ensure you always have access to the most current promotions. Great deals are expected to continue throughout December, so bookmark this page and check back often. 
  • Our Approved Merchants dashboard offers robust filtering capabilities, sophisticated reporting, and Preferred Merchants functionality—all designed to maximize your affiliate earnings.

Need another reason to work with Sovrn? Our customers are experiencing record-breaking EPCs this holiday season, because Sovrn consistently secures higher commission rates for publishers. 

If you’re not already using Sovrn Commerce, sign up now and see how our auction technology dynamically optimizes your traffic for the highest possible payout.

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