On what has become undoubtedly one of their biggest business days of the year, spare a thought for the advertisers, publishers and networks whose service appears to be cracking under the pressure of a Black Friday to remember.
A quick glance at the PerformanceIN Twitter timeline shows the who’s who of networks and affiliates having to apologise for disruption caused by shoppers taking either to their sites, or the domains of their clients. Most of these issues appear small, but for Quidco - prepped to the hilt with special cashback rates for a bumper day for business - the opening to Black Friday 2016 has so far been one to forget.
This morning has seen the site down for a number of hours, replaced with a short note promising services to be restored ”shortly”. Even when live, attempts to gain access resulted in loading times reminiscent of efforts to secure Glastonbury tickets.
Numerous theories have attempted to put a finger on what sent such an unprecedented amount of traffic to quidco.com. However, it’s plausible that on a day where £1.3 billion is expected to be spent in Britain - 70% of this coming from e-commerce - there would have been a crowd of people heading to the site almost on instinct alone.
Thankfully the social media team are prepared to look on the bright side of things, despite some hefty losses in commission.
Incidents like the above, combined with conversations that PerformanceIN has on a daily basis with performance marketing companies readying themselves for the biggest week in recent memory, only solidify the very apparent impact Black Friday has had on the space; Black Friday means bargains, and if there’s a channel suited to broadcasting deals and helping people convert, it’s performance marketing.
This year’s build-up has been a muted yet fascinating one for us in the editorial team. Following the scrambles for Blaupunkt TVs, the assessment of spend and the general media frenzy around Black Friday weekend, retailers came out to warn their competitors of the dangers in heavy discounting and allowing so much to ride on trade during a three-day period.
Last year, John Lewis’s then MD, Andy Street, rather hopefully told the BBC: "My personal hope is that this is the high water mark for Black Friday. I don't think we can put the genie back in the bottle but do we need to stoke that fire anymore? I personally hope not."
ASDA has been among a list of stores refusing to participate, and our inboxes have been filled with news of stores ‘trailblazing’ in the same manner.
That said, given the participation and coverage this time around, who in their right mind would bet against predictions of a 16% lift in spending compared to 2015?
One of the biggest participants in Argos has already reported a 50% lift in site traffic from last year, and that’s before the usual rush between 7:00pm - 10:00pm, when the buyers get home from work and allow the real shopping to commence.
It is hard to imagine that such an event has ‘traditions’ and expectations given its infancy in markets aside from the US, but failing to look into Black Friday in a granular manner could prove catastrophic.
For advertisers, there is simply no time to ponder how things have escalated so quickly; this year it’s about assessing what the competition are doing and preparing to squeeze the margins in the hope that a media frenzy will do the rest. It isn't a normal weekend; it's performance's very own transfer deadline day, as shown by the live coverage of Black Friday offered by groups outside and inside of the space.
Performance marketing seems to be riding on the wave carrying so many businesses to bumper profits this weekend. When one of the biggest affiliates cannot display its offers due to the sheer volume of people trying to gain access to them, few can deny the significance of Black Friday to the industry.