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It’s almost that time of the year again, where we all wait to see what our favourite online retailer will offer us on this glorious day – the day we all ‘get more, for less’. With more buyers wanting to capitalise on the spending spree, and less available impressions to buy – the power is in the hands of the publisher.

What is Black Friday?

Black Friday started in America as the Friday following Thanksgiving. It is regarded as the beginning of America’s Christmas shopping season, where the volume of shoppers created many traffic accidents. It has seen exponential global growth in the past few years In 2017, queries on Google Search for “Black Friday” grew twice as much in Central and Western Europe. While the US, UK, Spain and Sweden have the highest interest per capita in Black Friday events and sales, European markets have the fastest-growing interest. Since 2014 there has been an increase on Google in search volumes of approximately 117% annually. This is expected to continue to grow in 2019, surpassing 2018 significantly. There was a 663% increase in sales on Black Friday 2018 compared to any other ordinary day. With the shopping ‘holiday’ fast approaching, the peak season for digital advertising kicks into high gear.

What drives Black Friday sales?

Black Friday is driven by sales for highly discounted products and once-off or extraordinary deals. One of the easiest ways for advertisers to capitalise on this is to set up performance-driven campaigns managed by extremely skilled and seasoned campaign managers. To drive the best performance for their allocated brand, campaign managers set up many multi-channel strategies on platforms like Facebook, Google Ads, direct campaigns, to name a few, each structured with different strategies and goals in mind. Performance-driven campaigns employ re-targeting strategies to generate the most leads and/or revenue for their clients. Advertisers set up campaigns early to deploy branding content to drive awareness for their deals, and to connect users to their perfect deal by enticing them with pre-sales promises of incredible savings. Branding campaigns have a much slower pace leading up to the weekend, however as soon as Black Friday hits, demand increases astronomically.

How does this relate to me as a Publisher?

For a publisher to prepare for the increased demand for quality inventory, you need to think about what buyers want from their inventory. One main factor many buyers consider to be very important is the ability to re-target users that may have prematurely navigated away from their website. Due to the emphasis placed on this strategy, it is highly recommended that publishers allow buyers to make use of cookies and personalised ads on their website.

What else can I do?

By enabling the personalisation feature within your Ad Manager account/ad request, you can increase the demand for your inventory significantly, as many buyers are prepared to pay a premium CPM if they know their audience is already interested in, or familiar with, their brand. Performance-based campaigns targeting users that already have forgotten items in their cart, or may have navigated away before purchasing, typically generate a much higher return on their investment.

Should you also have the Audience feature enabled in your network, you would be able to further capitalise on this by creating first-party audiences of users who are already interested in certain topics; eg: child-rearing related content. By creating this audience and allowing it to be targeted in a Programmatic Guaranteed or Preferred Deal, you are in a stronger position to negotiate a much higher CPM for your significantly more valuable inventory.

What if I don’t want my users to be re-targeted?

Should you opt to not take this approach, you would be putting themselves in a weaker position for optimal revenue generation. By not allowing personalised ads, buyers won’t be able to re-target the users, and therefore their inventory is less enticing. They may then be forced to only run generic banners, which don’t often generate as much revenue as customised and highly targeted creatives.

What effect will Black Friday have on my inventory?

Black Friday is a great opportunity for publishers to earn extra revenue on their ad inventory. Through an analysis of historical data, you can more accurately predict the trend for this year and prepare to monetise the opportunity efficiently.

DQ&A manages the AdX networks of 50+ publishers. Having analysed the YOY Black Friday trends for these publishers, we have seen that there is typically a decrease in traffic on Black Friday (-19%*), as most buyers are not following their usual browsing patterns, but are instead spending their time on online retail sites that offer Black Friday deals. This could be partially negated by creating targeted Black Friday content to draw more users to your website for unique, and highly valuable new information.

* Internal data – 40 million impressions, comparison comprising of 3 days pre- Black Friday weekend, and Black Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

What does this all mean for my AdExchange performance?

Additionally, with many buyers’ intent on focusing on particular users, the auction pressure shifts significantly. With more buyers wanting to capitalise on a spending spree, and less available impressions to buy – the power is in the hands of the publisher. We have seen Ad Request eCPMs (average CPM earned per ad request made available for purchase in AdExchange) increase dramatically by 150% in 2018. Revenue increased by 127%, or 139% if you factor in the decrease in impressions.

What can I do right now to prepare for Black Friday?

Use this data to predict the increase in demand for your inventory over the upcoming popular weekend by making preemptive adjustments to your setup to capitalise on the demand shift:

  • Analyse your own traffic’s history over the last two years to see your own trends and make more informed adjustments.
  • Increase minimum bids, or target CPM values strategically to increase the overall revenue made over this weekend.

Is there anything else I can do to increase revenue?

Many other factors that typically take up a long term approach, but will also significantly affect a publisher’s revenue, can include:

  • Viewability
  • Site speed
  • User-friendliness of the website (clean, organised sites see higher CTRs and therefore higher CPMs),
  • Ad implementation etc.

Should all of these elements be in optimal condition, you are in the best position to leverage on the opportunity of Black Friday demand. If there is improvement possible, there is no better time to apply a few small changes to be able to fully take advantage of the increased demand, not only for the Black Friday weekend, but also to increase the value of your inventory and improve your overall ad revenue in the long term.

What’s next?

The DQ&A ad operations team often assist publishers in making small changes to their setup to improve their overall ad inventory offering to their website and have seen very compelling results. For example, have a read through this Google case study where DQ&A has worked with a Publisher to significantly improve the value of their inventory which led to a notable revenue increase. By combining these efforts with the increased demand Black Friday will bring, the revenue increase could be even more impressive than that of 2018, and assist you in taking your business to an entirely new level. If you would like to put yourself in the best possible position for Black Friday, please reach out to your DQ&A Account Manager to discuss the potential for a network/website audit, as well as optimisation suggestions for your current AdExchange setup.

If you have any questions on how to approach your ads for Black Friday, reach out to your account manager or send an email to

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