The Christmas period is the most important time of year for UK retailers, whether in-store or online, and the festive shopping spree starts in earnest on Black Friday, thanks to its array of special offers and discounts. 

Research suggests UK consumers are budgeting between £200 and £300 for Black Friday on November 23rd this year after 54% of shoppers took advantage of the sales last year. So what advice do leading figures from the digital marketing and advertising world have to help brands make the most of this golden opportunity?

Wayne St. Amand, CMO of Visual IQ, a Nielsen Company

“In today’s digital age, speed matters. And on retail’s busiest day of the year, the ability to respond quickly to performance fluctuations is more important than ever. Brand success on Black Friday is driven by marketers’ ability to continually test and make adjustments to the creative message, offers and content in near real-time. Yet many campaigns fall down when marketers base their optimisation decisions on data that’s weeks or even months old.
“To make an impact on 23rd November, marketers must utilise measurement solutions that refresh and remodel data at speed, so they keep pace with changing consumer behaviours, funnel spend into the most effective channels and tactics, and boost sales on the big day.”

Chris Bennett, managing director EMEA, Pixability

“As consumers continue to shift purchasing from high street to high-powered mobile devices they are relying more and more on social video to shape their purchasing decisions, which is resulting in sales directly through social platforms. We see this particularly during seasonal events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with research showing social shopping increasing by a massive 66% in the UK alone.
“A key factor in making a purchase via social media is having access to better previews as well as 3rd party reviews of products. This is especially true of social video, which can bridge the gap between in-store and online shopping experiences, whether it is by introducing detailed and visually impactful product information or the inclusion of recommendations, hacks and ‘how-tos’ from online influencers and other shoppers.

“To make the best use of social video, brand owners should be planning campaigns that work cross-platform, considering the form and length of the creative that works best to optimise the Black Friday opportunity.”

Michael Duning, VP strategic growth, Glispa

“Mobile advertising is a must for brands this Black Friday. Driving over a third (39%) of sales in 2017 – a figure only set to increase this year – it is imperative marketers take a bold and innovative approach on mobile to stand out from the crowd.
“Playable ads provide the answer. By combining engaging storytelling and interactivity, playable tap into user emotions to forge a meaningful connection that encourages positive brand awareness. Marketers need to be clever about how to best utilise playable around Black Friday; prize-matching games that offer vouchers or discounts are a great way of enticing consumers to make a purchase.
“To date, the growth of interactive ads has been slow, as many brands considered them limited to the gaming industry, but when used creatively, playable can enable brands in any vertical to cut through the hype and take advantage of key dates like Black Friday.”

Michele Marzan, chief strategy officer, MainAd

“While 2018 has been a year full of consumer concern over the way their data is used and stored, the demand and expectation for brands to deliver tailored, engaging, and personalised content is still high.
“Ahead of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the Christmas period, consumers will be inundated with ads and emails containing special offers and discounts, creating a saturated environment that will make it difficult for brands to stand out. The key to overcoming this challenge is for them to use data combined with machine learning (ML) to inform their campaigns.
“UK consumers spent 1.4 billion on Black Friday in 2017. For brands to capitalise this year they require data sets and advanced technology that delivers in real-time, making the most of ad spend while providing the best customer experience with more relevant and timely content.”

Lindsay McEwan, VP and managing director EMEA, Tealium

“Last year, Black Friday online sales in the UK increased 11.7% from the year before. Interestingly, footfall in the high street was down by 3.6%, despite a 0.6% rise in sales compared to the previous year. So, to remain competitive in 2018, retailers must realise the value of their consumers’ data and concentrate their efforts on delivering convenient, personalised customer service experiences in real time.
“Now, more than ever, brands must adapt to the changeable shopping habits of online bargain hunters and respond instantaneously to impact the ‘in the moment’ decision. Black Friday browsers’ attention spans are shorter than usual, and they expect a more fluid customer service experience to keep pace with their frantic efforts to bag the best deal. 

“This means online retailers need to be on the ball, stitching together both online event-level data, offline legacy data and in-store behaviour to create a 360-degree view of the consumer and determine the most relevant communications and next best action for each individual.”

Giovanni Strocchi, CEO at ADmantX

“For brands, Black Friday is a prime time to ensure discount campaigns are communicated seamlessly across every channel to maximise sales.

“In the GDPR era, arguably the biggest asset to any advertiser is access to first-party data, which can be used to personalise ads to each individual customer – a tactic necessary to gain a competitive advantage over rivals.

“A key source of first-party data comes from online customer interactions, traffic and analysis. Only by correctly categorising this data through a rich taxonomy to discover users’ interests, and pairing this with machine learning, can brands create valuable segments that identify and group the perfect consumers for a specific offer. Increasing conversions and consumer engagement are on the wish list for every brand, and taking steps to grow first-party data pools is vital to achieving success this Black Friday.”