Attribution — we love it and hate it. When looking at conversion data in-platform, both Google and Microsoft give conversion credit to the day (or days) that an ad was clicked, which can be well before the user converted. While this helps you paint a picture of the user journey, it can be difficult to gauge performance in a given month when your users take more than ten days to convert.

This becomes an even larger challenge for direct-to-consumer advertisers during the peak shopping season. You could assume that the low ROAS you are experiencing in the period before Black Friday is related to users doing their research in advance of upcoming promotions, but it can be hard to justify continuing to invest if you do not have the hard data to prove it.

Moving into the holiday shopping season, many of the brands I work with were experiencing this exact scenario. We knew that once the promotional period hit, our earlier efforts would drive sales, but what would the impact be? With this question in mind, I pulled the conversion and revenue data for these advertisers from September to Mid-November twice — once just before Black Friday, and then again after Cyber Monday. By doing this and comparing the two data sets, we were able to quantify the lift that occurred over Cyber 5 Weekend.

The Results

The data showed mixed results in terms of the amount of lift, but there were two trends that held true.

The first trend was that all advertisers saw the most significant lift in the first few weeks of November. It may not be the most surprising takeaway, given there are more users who are in the gifting and shopping mindset at the beginning of November, but on average advertisers saw an approximately 22% increase in revenue and ROAS in November prior to Black Friday. It is also noteworthy that even September and October saw lifts in conversion and revenue volume.

The other trend was in the campaign types that experienced lift. Brand and remarketing campaigns saw the largest lift from a percentage standpoint, but non-brand search and shopping saw fairly significant lift as well. Across all advertisers, the data suggested it’s worth feeding non-brand search and shopping as consumers research and then wait for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Running a similar analysis on your business during peak times can be one way to determine how much you can push in the lead-up to prime sales seasons to maximize your sales while hitting ROI goals.

Of course, we expect to see some variations in these trends based on account composition and goals, as well as industry and consumer behavior, but it’s good directional evidence you can use as a benchmark if you haven’t run a similar study for your business. As you plan for 2020, make sure to keep in mind your account trends and understand your customer journey well in advance of the next shopping season to ensure you are driving the right amount of awareness in advance of promotional periods.

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