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An Insider's Look at Black Friday Media

A quintessential holiday is just around the corner but Americans are already celebrating. Not by eating turkey and watching football on a Thursday afternoon, but by shopping. Yes, Black Friday and its online cousin, Cyber Monday, are nearly here. And according to the latest National Retail Federation Survey, shoppers are gearing up to spend an average of $463 on family members this year, up from $458 last year, making this the highest in survey history.

While some of us are focused on making our lists and checking them twice, we tapped Sara-Beth Donovan, Lynette McCarthy, Michelle LaPointe, and Rebecca Sheehan of our media team for an insider’s look at the holiday shopping season.

“A lot of people say they hate Black Friday, but a lot of people also love it. It’s part of our culture. People are all about shopping,” says Lynette.

And it’s more than a post-holiday workout. Advertising in conventional media, social media, blogs and other digital platforms provides a tremendous amount of information that people find valuable, notes Sara-Beth. “Most of the year people shop only for themselves or their immediate family needs. But now folks are shopping for others. They need ideas for what to get that hard-to-impress person on their list. They need the information and they need it now,” she says.

Indeed, people are not waiting for Black Friday or Cyber Monday to start buying. The shopping season now coincides with back to school. According to a new survey from Facebook, 37 percent of consumers said that they'll wrap up most of their gift-buying this year before Black Friday. Another survey shows that nearly a quarter of people completed their holiday shopping in September. Some retailers have responded by extending Black Friday sales into early November.

What are the implications for advertisers and media professionals?

1. Don’t Wait: For one, the time to start thinking about your holiday media strategy is when others think about going to the beach. “Businesses really need to plan earlier. There’s a finite pool of premium media to buy,” says Michelle.

If advertisers wait, they may finds themselves locked out of the most effective ad buys. “The inventory has been very tight. Even in October,” notes Lynette, who found intense competition for spots on children’s holiday programming like Charlie Brown specials.

2. Get Creative: A key objective for any advertiser is not to get caught in the clutter. “One solution to the tight market is to look into other ways to grab attention like social media, giveaways and other tactics. Placing products with bloggers is becoming more and more popular, too,” says Rebecca.

3. Evaluate your Impact: According to Sara-Beth, some non-retail advertisers may want to take a pass on Black Friday. “It might be a case of be big or stay home,” she says. “Businesses that don’t need to advertise now and don’t want to pay a premium may well sit it out for a time they can be more impactful.”

For the rest of us: get out (or go online) and shop or sit back and enjoy the show!

Interested in our insights? Learn more by visiting Media Only’s new website mhmediaonly.com and following us on Twitter @MediaOnlyMH.

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