Each holiday, it gets more difficult to decipher the various reports we receive, as more and more companies share their insights. Research and e-commerce companies give us a glimpse at the greater picture, though they do so through analysis of the data to which they have access. As a result, their figures often differ.
Does this mean one is "more correct" than another? No. It means that viewing the collection as a whole, rather than relying on any one source in particular, can give a clearer idea of which channels, strategies, and tactics were most successful over the given period of time.
For more information on the methodology, sample size or data used by any one company, please click through to read their full report (where available). Here are the highlights from each:
comScore - $1.46 Billion Revenue Makes Cyber Monday 2012 Heaviest U.S. Online Spending Day in History
Cyber Monday reached $1.465 billion in online spending, up 17 percent versus 2011, representing the heaviest online spending day in history and the second day this season (in addition to Black Friday) to surpass $1 billion in sales, according to comScore.
Other findings from comScore:
- For the holiday season-to-date, $16.4 billion has been spent online, marking a 16-percent increase versus the corresponding days last year.
- Cyber Monday saw Digital Content & Subscriptions continue to set the pace among product categories with a year-over-year growth rate of 28 percent. Consumer Electronics, buoyed by gains in smartphone sales, ranked second at 24 percent, while tablet sales helped the Computer Hardware category post a 22-percent growth rate.
- Nearly half of dollars spent online at U.S. websites originated from work computers (47.1 percent), down slightly from last year. Buying from home comprised the majority of the remaining share (47.2 percent) while buying at U.S. websites from international locations accounted for 5.7 percent of sales.
Marin Software - The Holiday Creep*
“Retailers are not only investing more dollars online, but they are doing it earlier in the consumer buying cycle,” said Matt Lawson, Vice President of Marketing at Marin Software. “Consumers increasingly rely on online alerts, ads and reviews to inform their buying decisions and advertisers are looking to keep ahead, especially during the critical holiday season.”
Marin found that:
- Retailers increased search advertising spend 59 percent on Thanksgiving Day 2012, compared to 2011, indicating an earlier start to this year’s holiday season. Due to more investment on Thanksgiving, average cost-per-click for paid search ads also increased on Thanksgiving to 22 percent more than 2011.
- In aggregate over the five days, paid search spend by retailers increased 43 percent and cost-per-click increased 20 percent over 2011, as competition among retailers for search terms grew, signaling the heightened importance online advertising plays in driving bottom line growth for retailers.
- Cyber Monday continues to be the blockbuster day for retailers online, garnering more clicks than any other day, but the five day period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday is growing in importance as shoppers look for deals throughout the week.
*Marin helpfully pointed out in their blog post outlining these insights, “The ‘creep’ as it’s used in this blog post is in relation to “spreading” or “growing” – not the “creep” you may encounter at your company holiday party.” For that clarification, we thank them.
Experian Hitwise: Cyber Monday a Banner Day for Top 500 Retail Sites
Online traffic on Cyber Monday increased 11 percent YoY, as the top 500 retail sites received more than 206.8 million total US visits. So far this past holiday week of online traffic from Thanksgiving Day to Cyber Monday to retail sites is up 8 percent for 2012 vs. 2011, wrote Experian’s Matt Tatham. Other highlights from their research:
- Amazon.com remained the top visited retail site on Cyber Monday while Walmart received the second most visits. BestBuy was the third most visited site with Target and JCPenney rounding out the top five.
- Among the top five sites, Amazon saw the biggest year-over-year growth at 36 percent.
IBM Holiday Benchmark Cyber Monday Infographic
On Cyber Monday more than 18 percent of consumers used a mobile device to visit a retailer's site, an increase of more than 70 percent over 2011, according to IBM. Mobile sales reached close to 13 percent, an increase of more than 96 percent over 2011. Other findings from their Holiday Benchmark Cyber Monday report:
- Online sales increased 30.3 percent over 2011.
- The iPad continued to generate more traffic than any other tablet or smartphone, driving more than 7 percent of online shopping. This was followed by iPhone at 6.9 percent and Android 4.5 percent. The iPad also continued to dominate tablet traffic reaching a holiday high of 90.5 percent.
- While consumers continued to spend more, they once again shopped with greater frequency to take advantage of retailer deals as well as free shipping.This led to a drop in average order value by 6.6 percent to $185.12. However, the average number of items per order increased 14.1 percent to 8.34 compared to Black Friday.
- Department stores continued to offer compelling deals and promotions that drove sales to grow by 43.1 percent over Cyber Monday 2011.
- Health and Beauty sales increased 25.1 percent year over year with consumers once again choosing to pamper themselves this holiday.
Akamai - Cyber Monday 9pm Purchasing Peak 104 Percent Higher Than Black Friday
“Early browsing behaviors mirrored those of Black Friday quite closely. The only clear difference is that consumers chose sleep over shopping, as illustrated by the 25 percent decrease in browsing activities at 12AM,” wrote Akamai’s Elyssa Duboys. “Additionally, average page views dropped from 14.1 to 11, a decrease of 22 percent early Monday morning (12AM -4AM).”
They also found:
- Midnight purchasing behavior was 12.5 percent below Black Friday's post offline shopping sprees.
- The shift in Cyber Monday's favor came at 6 a.m. ET at a 32 percent increase in online purchases.
- From 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., online spending activities were consistently 50 percent higher than those observed on Black Friday.
- Purchasing activity peaked at 9 p.m., 104 percent higher than Black Friday at the same hour.
PM Digital - More Searchers Does Not Translate to Sales Boost
Product Listing Ads (PLAs) were a big component of performance this year, according to PM Digital.
“Brands selling direct to consumer saw their trademark CPCs rise significantly, as click throughs were diverted from their trademark search ads to the image-pleasing PL ads shown right on the search results page run by their retail partners,” they told SEW. “PLA spend made up 10 percent of the search spend, and advertisers who ran on PLAs last year saw 100 percent YOY growth on those ad placements.”
They found that:
- In terms of year-over-year growth, Black Friday saw a higher level of search activity than Cyber Monday but not as high an increase in clicks or sales. This indicates that more shoppers were looking around on Black Friday than they did a year ago, but the purchase rate was still higher on Cyber Monday.
- Client budgets were also up slightly on Black Friday in terms of YOY growth. Those decisions were made by advertisers earlier in the year when they saw such an increase in Black Friday impressions in holiday 2011.
- Sales were on target with most of the Holiday predictions for 2012 with increased YOY revenue of 15 percent on Black Friday and 19 percent on Cyber Monday.
- CPCs were up so significantly YOY for both Black Friday and Cyber Monday that it took everyone by surprise. (Last year, CPCs were down YOY for many categories of retail.) Aside from a general increase in the price of CPCs in the auction, another reason for the rise is that we saw a higher proportion of the sales increase come from generic keywords which typically cost more than trademark terms.
Kenshoo - Cyber Monday Sees Aggressive Growth in Clicks and Impressions
“Shopping continues to migrate online, and U.S retailers saw their biggest fluctuations of the season to date on what most now consider to be the biggest days for online shopping: Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday,” said Aaron Goldman, Kenshoo CMO. They found that:
- Thanksgiving Day saw the highest YoY increase in average order value, up 19 percent, as consumers loaded up their shopping carts.
- Black Friday showed lower YoY revenue growth compared to other key days but still delivered a healthy increase of 24 percent.
- Cyber Monday saw the biggest increase in YoY impressions and clicks, reflecting heightened consumer interest and search activity, as well as aggressive budgeting and bidding strategies of retailers aiming to capitalize on this new online shopping holiday.
- Overall, for the November holiday season period to date, conversion rates and return on as spend showed double-digit growth YoY as major retailers have become more sophisticated with their search marketing programs and deployment of technology solutions, including holistic management of Google Product Listing Ads.
Cyber Monday Paves the Way for Great 2012 Holiday Season for Online Retailers
“Despite some news reports suggesting that Cyber Monday might be declining in importance, the day has once again set an online spending record at nearly $1.5 billion,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “However, it is also clear that the holiday promotional period has begun even earlier this year, with strong online sales occurring on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday. Now, we shall see the extent to which continuing and attractive retailer promotions are able to boost sales for the remainder of the week.”
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!