With Christmas fast approaching, there are two days that really stand out within the online calendar – Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

Traditionally a US phenomenon, Black Friday has transcended across the Atlantic. Falling on the Friday after Thanksgiving, retailers offer considerable discounts across their products creating a purchasing frenzy. The Monday that follows Black Friday has been dubbed Cyber Monday. This is also a major date within the UK and is often referred to as ‘Mega Monday’ – the first Monday in December. This year the US Cyber Monday also falls on the first Monday of December. With advertisers keen to boost their peak trading periods, there are plenty of deals to be had.

Having monitored activity across the network for the past few years, we look at our top five predictions for this peak promotional period.

Consumers to get an even better deal

Since its inception in 2005, Cyber Monday has become increasingly important in the online calendar. With it widely regarded as the busiest online shopping day in the UK, advertisers are keen to ensure they get a slice of the action. As a consequence, consumers are able to get some unbelievable bargains in the run up to Christmas. As well as buying presents for others, with the deals available, it is also a good opportunity to treat themselves. Expect to see some heavy discounting over this period and conversion rates drastically increasing as consumers take full advantage. As well as offering money off, expect to see plenty of offers for free delivery from advertisers that do not offer this as standard. A free delivery code can vastly increase the propensity to purchase. There is likely to be plenty of ‘price matching’ initiatives to fend off competitor activity.

Advertisers that act early will gain a clear advantage

With these events increasing in popularity, it is important for advertisers to act early. With publishers gearing up for the event there are numerous promotional opportunities to be had. Advertisers are likely to have had their plans in place early. Those with the strongest offers and the early movers are set to reap the rewards. Publishers will be keen to feature the best offers and those most likely to convert. As well as advertisers having their promotions lined up early, publishers will have been sharing their promotional plans with advertisers well in advance. Advertisers quick off the mark will secure the prime promotional slots.

There will be other contenders to the throne but Cyber Monday will remain king

Each year there are always predictions there will be days that outperform Cyber Monday. Last year Monday December 10 and Monday December 17 were widely touted to exceed the sales volumes seen on Cyber Monday. Having examined this across the network, this was not the case last year and we do not expect it to be this year. With last order dates before Christmas getting later and later, there will always be additional peaks nearer the big day, however, the vast discounts available and the fact Cyber Monday typically falls just after pay day, we expect to see it remain king.

With the anticipated heavy discounting across a wide range of advertisers we would expect to see lower average order values (as has been the norm in previous years) although the actual volume of sales will reach record levels.

Consumers will fall into two camps

This ties in nicely with the previous point. There are typically two types of consumer in the run up to Christmas. Those that purchase early to take advantage of Cyber Monday and those bargain hunters that wait for a last minute deal. With a number of advertisers bringing forward their Boxing Day sales last year, a number of shoppers will be expecting a repeat this year. A recent blog post from Hitwise looked at these different target markets in more detail.

​While we expect to see Cyber Monday as the most important trading day, we do anticipate a further peak later in the month as the last minute shoppers enter the fray. We did see this to an extent last year with Monday December 10 and December 17 also seeing an increase in sales volumes, although nowhere near as pronounced as the Cyber Monday peak.

Mobile will play an increasingly important role

It has already been well documented this year is set to be a mobile Christmas. John Lewis has even gone as far as predicting mobile will overtake desktop in terms of traffic on Christmas day. With consumers rapidly turning to mobile devices, it’s expected there will be an increase in the share of sales originating through mobile devices in the coming weeks. Last week already saw us reach a quarter of all sales across the network originating from a mobile device and Cyber Monday should see exceptional mobile performance. Last year saw strong average order values through mobile devices and it’s expected to be replicated this year.

With more and more advertisers now providing their visitors with mobile optimised sites and a number of publishers also providing greater mobile content, the share of handset sales will increase on the peak of 6% achieved last year.

To sum up, it’s anticipated Cyber Monday will remain the most important shopping day in the run up to Christmas. Additional peaks are expected, but Cyber Monday will continue to be the main event. With mobile commerce increasing rapidly week on week, it’s predicted a considerable share of transactions originating from mobile devices. While the majority will come from tablet devices, sales through handsets are expected to eclipse the peak of 6% witnessed last year.

Will these predictions be correct? Be sure to check back in the next few weeks when we will reveal our own stats across the network.