Black Friday, Singles' Day, and Cyber Monday: 5 growth hacks for advertisers and publishers

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are no longer limited to the USA. These e-commerce events have become established and now mark the start of holiday shopping worldwide. Singles’ Day is also becoming more widespread. With the following tips, advertisers and publishers can optimally prepare for the “discount battle” – and ensure increasing sales.

Key Take Aways

Executive summary: 5 key take-aways for quick readers

  1. In 2021, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales amounted to EUR 5.3 billion in Germany.
  2. Online marketplaces such as Amazon are the strongest in terms of sales.
  3. In addition to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Singles’ Day (November 11) is establishing itself as a major shopping event.
  4. Advertisers and publishers should start planning as early as August.
  5. Exclusive Cyber Week deals are a win-win situation for both sides.

Cyber Week: history, relevance, and sales 

Towards the end of the year, when Christmas shopping begins for many online buyers, three major events have become increasingly popular. The first is Singles’ Day, which is only just arriving in Europe. This “holiday” originates in China and takes place annually on 11/11. Originally intended as a day for young singles to attend parties and make friends, Singles’ Day is now China’s biggest online shopping day. Alibaba Group, for example, reported sales of USD 74.1 billion on 11/11/2020 – that’s three times more than Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in the US. In Europe, too, more and more online retailers are taking part in Singles’ Day and advertising numerous discount promotions.

The next big shopping event is Black Friday. It originated in the American retail sector and takes place on the Friday after Thanksgiving (which is the fourth Thursday in November). Many Americans take the day to go Christmas shopping, so many retailers offer special promotions and discounts. With the growth of e-commerce, Black Friday has also become an online event and spread beyond the USA. Today, the shopping event is so popular and lucrative that many stores organize an entire “Black Week” and entice shoppers with a range of daily offers and discounts.

Black Week is followed directly by Cyber Monday on the Monday after Thanksgiving. Cyber Monday was originally the online counterpart to Black Friday, which mainly takes place in brick-and-mortar stores. Although Black Friday is now also a strong sales driver in e-commerce, Cyber Monday in the USA is still ahead in terms of online sales. The shopping days around Black Friday and Cyber Monday are also often referred to as Cyber Week.According to a study by Sirius Campus, 2021 sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday in Germany amounted to EUR 5.3 billion. Of this amount, 42 percent was generated by online mail-order companies, 37 percent by direct purchases from the manufacturer, and 21 percent by brick-and-mortar retailers. The top product categories during Cyber Week include fashion, electronics, and beauty.

Attention, advertisers! 5 pro tips for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

For advertisers, Cyber Week is one of the most crucial times of the year. It heralds the start of the holiday shopping season and offers the opportunity to significantly increase annual sales before year’s end. Follow these tips to be well-prepared:

1. Start planning early 

In August, or earlier, Advertisers should start preparing for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. At this point, the marketing budget for Cyber Week and its distribution across the various channels should be set. In addition, their own online store should be tested and examined for optimization potential so that everything runs smoothly for customers: from product search to checkout. When it comes to planning specific campaigns, advertisers should definitely use the previous year’s figures as a basis for planning.

2. Partner management

Based on the figures from last year’s Cyber Week, and the previous months, advertisers can easily determine which publishers they have been able to work with most successfully. As soon as the promotions for the upcoming Cyber Week are scheduled, publishers should be informed about them so that they can prepare suitable content.

3. Target customers in the right places

In order to target promotions around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, advertisers need to know where – on which platforms and websites – their target audience can be found. A high-fashion magazine may be a glamorous environment, but that’s not where smart shoppers usually look for discounts and coupons.

4. Be honest

Some retailers like to raise their prices in the run-up to Cyber Week and then lower them to the original price during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, thus offering supposedly lucrative discounts. However, online shoppers quickly detect such window dressing. More and more users are using price monitoring tools to keep a close eye on developments.

5. Prepare for the rush

When Cyber Week finally arrives, all the business units involved must be prepared for the onslaught of visitors. Sufficient server capacity must be available so that the store can cope with the high traffic volumes. Customer service should be staffed up, and merchandise management and logistics should be attended to, as well. After Cyber Week, capacities for returns management should also be ramped up.

Get ready, publishers! 5 pro tips for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Cyber Week is an important time for publishers to further monetize their content by earning more commissions. Here’s what publishers should keep in mind:

1. Start planning early

In August, if possible, publishers should begin to plan the upcoming Cyber Week. First and foremost, this means content planning. Publishers should focus on creating content based on their SEO capabilities, or optimizing existing content, to increase their findability in search engines.

2. Identify audience needs

Even if other sectors try to tempt publishers with higher commissions and sales, you should remember the needs of their core target group and produce appropriate content that can then be monetized. If you suddenly address completely different topics during Cyber Week simply to grab commissions, you will alienate your core audience and possibly lose revenue in the long run.

3. Pay attention to the sale dates of advertisers

Which promotions and discounts take place on which days? This varies from advertiser to advertiser. While some offer discounts and bargains throughout Black Week, others limit themselves exclusively to Black Friday, or the four days from Black Friday to Cyber Monday. Publishers should be aware of these schedules and plan their content accordingly.

4. Celebrate Cyber Week

Many online shoppers look forward to Cyber Week all year long. Publishers should fuel this anticipation on their social media channels in advance of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Gift guides and discount lists are ideal content types for this time period.

5. Negotiate exclusive deals

In the run-up to Cyber Week, publishers should determine which advertisers they have been able to work with most successfully. It makes sense to contact these advertisers early on to exchange information about planned campaigns and content – in order to negotiate exclusive deals for your own audience.

Coupon Advertising: How to Succeed 

Coupon advertising is one of the oldest marketing channels still in use today. The triumph of digitalization has made it more relevant than ever. The importance of coupon portals for online shopping is demonstrated by the multi-million dollar acquisitions and investments that have taken place in recent years. For example, PayPal bought the American coupon platform Honey for USD 4 billion at the end of 2019. The global market leader in coupon advertising RetailMeNot was acquired by J2 Global for USD 420 million in 2020, and the Berlin-based coupon startup Lumaly received a seven-figure sum in a 2021 financing round.  

Online shoppers who use coupons spend 24% more money than users without coupons. So the question is not whether advertisers should do coupon advertising, but how best to go about it. 

Key Take Aways

Executive summary: 5 key take-aways for quick readers

  1. Online shoppers spend 24% more with coupons.
  2. More and more users are becoming smart shoppers.
  3. Coupon portals are becoming increasingly popular.
  4. SEO is an important factor in coupon advertising
  5. Advertisers need a coupon strategy.

What is coupon advertising? 

Coupon advertising, or coupon marketing, is a marketing channel where (potential) customers are given discounts or rebates on their purchases. Most often, these discounts are a fixed amount of money or a percentage discount. But special coupons, like free shipping or an additional free product, are possible, too. Coupon marketing is a real all-rounder and, with the right strategy, is suitable for every industry – even in the B2B sector. 

Coupon advertising can be used to pursue various goals: 

The popularity of coupon marketing is steadily increasing, since more and more users are becoming so-called smart shoppers. Before they buy anything online, users look for coupon codes to save money on their purchases. 

What are the distribution channels for coupons? 

In digital marketing, coupon distribution often takes the form of e-mails to existing or new customers. Some retailers also operate their own coupon apps. Influencers in the B2C and B2B sectors also frequently offer coupon codes, and thus act as distributors. Coupon portals – which collect coupons from thousands of stores and receive commissions – are becoming increasingly popular. Customers can simply search for a brand or store, and then find all the current coupon promotions. Some of these portals are also community-based, which means that anyone can enter coupon codes. 

Coupon advertising overview: The 10 most popular coupon portals worldwide

What should advertisers look for in a publishing partner? 

When advertisers want to work with coupon portals, they are often spoilt for choice, because the range of offers is constantly increasing. The following factors can facilitate the selection of partners: 

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Tips for successful coupon advertising 

1. Focus from search engine optimization 

This can happen in two ways: First, brands can dominate in search engine advertising. If users then search for “brand + coupon”, for example, they will receive ads for current coupon promotions directly on the store page. On the other hand, advertisers should maintain close relationships with publishers (coupon portals) that rank well in organic search. These are a good traffic supplier and multiplier for reaching even more people with coupon promotions. 

2. Cooperate with publishers 

Advertisers must take care to regularly update their content and provide the portals with up-to-date information. In addition, the conditions of the coupon should be clearly communicated. Nothing is more annoying than stumbling across expired coupons in the checkout process, or not being able to use coupons in the end because the conditions, such as a minimum order value, are not met. 

3. Don’t forget existing customers 

Coupon portals are ideal for attracting new customers, but coupon advertising also makes a lot of sense for existing customers. There are various seasonal occasions for issuing coupons: the user’s birthday, during the holidays, or as part of major events. Advertisers should use unique codes – coupon codes that can only be used once. This ensures that only their own user base can benefit from the special incentive. 

Hands-on with Benjamin Boucher, Head of sales of digidip:
4 steps to a coupon strategy for advertisers  

As is so often the case in marketing, nothing works without the right strategy. Without planning and monitoring, coupon marketing can quickly become a bottomless pit. If you follow these steps, your coupon strategy is sure to be successful: 

In combination with clear campaign goals, individually-defined KPIs, and cooperation with the right publishers, coupons can be successfully integrated into your own marketing plan. With more and more smart shoppers among the customers, advertisers should seriously consider coupon marketing. Otherwise, the competition might get all the conversions.  

Hands-on Commerce Advertising: A new approach for advertisers‘ digital strategy

With Commerce Advertising, mrge introduces a new umbrella term to digital business. One of the key differences to other marketing terms is that advertising is aligned along the customer journey. How does this work? What exactly is Commerce Advertising? And how can advertisers, as well as publishers and consumers, benefit? Tobias Conrad, CCO of mrge, gives practical answers to these and many other questions.

What exactly is Commerce Advertising? 

Tobias Conrad (TC): Commerce Advertising is a newly-coined term. For us, Commerce Advertising stands for all digital advertising formats that are placed within content, or adjacent to content, during purchase-relevant phases of the customer journey, formats that achieve a clearly measurable conversion. In a nutshell, we’re talking about Internet-based advertising measures from the area of e-commerce marketing. They help the advertisers sell their products or services digitally. The measures are placed at action-relevant touchpoints along the customer journey. There, they make an offer that leads to a clearly measurable conversion. Commerce Advertising thus maximizes revenues and ROI for advertisers and reduces branding costs. Advertisers reach their target groups sustainably and effectively, increase conversion, and also support brand awareness downstream. And publishers benefit because their content can be better monetized with these advertising formats. 

Tobias Conrad is CCO of mrge and an expert for Commerce Advertising

What is new about Commerce Advertising, what sets it apart? 

TC: In Commerce Advertising, we assume that the impulse to buy is not triggered only by the final point of contact. Instead, we see the entire customer journey – the sum of all experiences and touchpoints – as decisive for the purchase. This results in a holistic view of the customer journey, with the goal of seamlessly recording and covering all touchpoints. So we no longer expect the advertising format to achieve a conversion: We look at the user’s actual behavior. Until now, this viewpoint was missing from the conversation about advertising in digital marketing. However, we are convinced that this is the only way advertisers can actually reach their potential customers when and where they make their purchase decision.  

In the customer journey, Commerce Advertising is primarily active during Consideration and Purchase

Accordingly, the measures used in Commerce Advertising are based on context, and placed natively within or close to the content – and in the environments – that the customer uses. If we look at the customer journey with the three phases of Awareness, Consideration, and Purchase, Commerce Advertising is primarily active during Consideration and Purchase. Both phases have shifted completely to the Internet as a result of progressive digitalization, rapid e-commerce growth, and increased demands for convenience and home delivery. First, users inform themselves at many different sources. Then, they buy. Advertisers can now model this path through their presence at all points of contact. Unlike other approaches to digital marketing, Commerce Advertising also maps the purchase triggers, such as coupons or price comparison sites. With Commerce Advertising, we provide the approaches and support the paradigm shift. 

What advertising formats does Commerce Advertising consist of?  

TC: In Commerce Advertising, the formats, such as banners or videos, play a subordinate role, are no longer the focus. We no longer take an inside-out approach and ask “Where can we place a banner?” but “How do our users behave, and at which points of the customer journey should we make them an offer?” 

The locations for an advertiser’s presence are decisive: product review and test pages, product and price comparison pages, coupon pages, cashback pages, Google Shopping, and, of course, commerce content. In these formats, advertisers create presence and achieve conversion through a logo or a banner, or simply through a link, as we see in affiliate marketing and commerce content.  

Do you have an example of when we encounter Commerce Advertising?  

TC: For example, if you’re looking for a running shoe: One way is that you see an ad, a banner, or a video, click it, and land in the store where you buy the shoe. That’s the classic, ad-oriented approach in digital marketing, for those who know what they want. But in fact, it’s often the case that you have a vaguer desire and a need like “My running shoes are worn out and I need new ones.” Then you get information from publishers who enjoy your trust, in the media, blogs, forums, social media, or from influencers. In the next step, you usually make a pre-selection. Then, in the next step, you look for the best price. This is where coupons, cashback, price comparison sites come into play. Finally, you buy the shoe of your choice. Advertisers can accompany all of these touchpoints – search with the search engine, information in publishing offers and social media, product comparison sites, and then price comparisons or discounts – through their presence.  

What does Commerce Advertising mean for advertisers in concrete terms?  

TC: The Commerce Advertising strategy leads to higher revenues. The measures and their results are measurable at every point. More and more advertisers want to reach their customers directly, summarized by the keyword D2C, Direct to Consumer. With Commerce Advertising tools, this is all the more possible, because the ad appears in an environment that interests the user anyway. So the probability is higher that they will click suitable advertising and achieve demonstrable performance. The advertiser can choose the exact channels to achieve their goal, usually a sale or a lead. Through Commerce Advertising, consumers are then taken directly to the store, or to another offer such a newsletter, a gated download, or registration for an event.  

With Commerce Advertising, advertisers set the impulses that are decisive for a purchase, so that a user who informs herself about various products and providers gets a trigger that leads her to their offer. By shaping the entire customer journey, advertisers hold the interest of potential customers much longer.  

And, of course, Commerce Advertising is designed to retain existing customers. Advertisers who make offers along the actual customer journey are more likely to close the deal than those who do not.  

And what are the challenges for advertisers?  

TC: Advertisers must adapt their marketing to the customer journey of their target groups. Marketing managers take a Commerce Advertising approach to data-driven marketing. They know which tools and technologies can be used along the customer journey, and how these interact and affect conversion. They can combine a variety of different tools: from affiliate links to presence in product comparison sites. They need to get to grips with the marketing channels and tools in order to optimally manage their activities and use them profitably.  

Commerce Advertising is located in the realm of e-commerce marketing, but also influences neighboring disciplines such as content marketing, couponing marketing and, of course, the advertiser’s pricing strategy.  

What is the history of Commerce Advertising, how did you come up with it?  

TC: Until now, the MarTech ecosystem had no term for advertising formats based on actual usage behavior and the digital customer journey. But we urgently needed one. Our experience over the past few years in all three mrge companies (digidip, shopping24, and Yieldkit) shows that advertisers’ and publishers’ revenues increase when they use an advertising format based on the user’s individual usage situation. This is a different perspective on digital advertising. And that’s why looked for a term to describe advertising that generates a conversion from the content or from the content environment. And Commerce Advertising expresses exactly that.  

You say the perspective is changing: How is the relationship between user, publisher, and advertiser defined now?  

TC: Planning under Commerce Advertising conditions focuses on people (the users) and their interests. The selected advertising format takes the user’s context into account. As a result, the ad is geared more precisely to the user’s interests – and this increases the likelihood that the user will click the ad. The advertising offer is received at the point in time when it is relevant to the user. This Commerce Advertising perspective delivers enormous benefits to all parties involved.  

Where does Commerce Advertising stand in relation to affiliate marketing?  

TC: Affiliate marketing describes a way to bring publishers and advertisers together. However, the actual digital customer journey of a user interested in a product or, more generally, in a company, is much longer, and involves several touchpoints. Affiliate marketing does not extend far enough to cover all of them, but it remains an important tool within Commerce Advertising.  

And how does Commerce Advertising relate to commerce content?   

TC: Commerce content describes a strategy of publishers who make their own editorial offer with the aim of monetization. For example, they write product comparisons and place links to the stores or Amazon for the products discussed. Commerce Advertising goes beyond this and also includes ready-made pages on product comparisons and the like, which publishers can individualize and integrate into their offer. This gives publishers an additional option for placing a topic in their editorial environment.   

How are you expanding Commerce Advertising? What’s next?    

TC: Commerce Advertising as an umbrella term is understood and increasingly used by publishers and advertisers alike. We are now working to establish this user-focused view in digital marketing.  

With mrge, our goal is to make our Commerce Advertising suite the world’s most profitable connection between advertisers and publishers. It provides advertisers with everything they need to scale efficiently, improve performance, and increase sales. And publishers get all the monetization tools they need to generate additional revenue – while adding value for their users. 

Crash Course on “Direct to Consumer”: How Brands Can Become Independent of Large Sales Platforms with D2C

To reach a large target group with their products and services, many providers use large sales platforms with their huge reach and customer bases. However, more and more brands prefer to use direct-to-consumer (D2C) sales – and market developments confirm this. In fact, both variants have their advantages and disadvantages, and both sales forms can also complement each other successfully. In the following expert article, we present market figures, benchmarks and a decision-maker checklist with pros and cons.

Key Take Aways

Executive summary: 5 key take-aways for quick readers

  1. More and more consumers are buying directly from the manufacturer.
  2. In the D2C approach, brands shape the entire customer journey themselves.
  3. D2C gives brands full control over brand messaging.
  4. Commission payments to wholesalers and intermediaries are eliminated.
  5. D2C increases loyalty and enables more profitable customer relationships.

Key facts: “Direct to consumer” market development 

Direct to consumer (D2C for short) refers to a marketing and sales strategy in which manufacturers approach their end customers directly – without intermediaries or platforms. As a rule, suppliers take on all tasks: from production, marketing, and sales, to customer relationship management.The D2C approach is currently becoming increasingly relevant for product suppliers. For example, around 60 percent of US Americans have already ordered directly from a manufacturer at least once. Sales generated by D2C companies in the US rose from just under USD 77 billion in 2019 to a forecast USD 151 billion in 2022 – and predictions for 2023 are currently approaching USD 175 billion. Currently, most D2C brands are in the fashion sector. A particularly prominent example is Nike. Since 2017, the sporting goods manufacturer has been successfully relying on direct sales.

Best practice: Nike’s success story

Nike ended its collaboration with wholesalers such as Macy’s and Urban Outfitters and also did not continue its partnership with Amazon. Instead, the company focused on expanding its own e-commerce strategy. In doing so, Nike invested primarily in new key technologies. In 2018, Nike bought the data analytics company Zodiac as well as Invertex, an Israeli start-up that develops scan-to-fit solutions, with the aim of better understanding its own customers and providing them with better advice. In order to best meet its own requirements for operating an online store, Nike used its own technical e-commerce solutions. The quarterly figures show that this strategy is working: Nike recently increased its D2C sales by 15 percent.

Decision-maker checklist: sales platform vs. D2C

When product suppliers are faced with the choice between sales platforms and direct to consumer, various factors come into play: Are they already working with a wholesaler and want to set up a D2C business in parallel, or are they still at the very beginning of their sales activities? What resources do they have in terms of people, time, and finances? Manufacturers should carefully weigh the advantages and challenges of direct sales:

The 4 biggest benefits of the D2C approach for brands:

But customers can also benefit from the D2C model. Through closer contact with the brand, they can be part of a community and have their suggestions and problems heard more quickly. In addition, many manufacturers pass on the lower costs to their customers, for example, through lower prices, free shipping, or special coupon promotions.

D2C’s 4 biggest challenges and barriers to entry

For all the benefits that the D2C approach offers, no one should underestimate the challenges:

The 3 biggest advantages of sales platforms

Established shopping portals are the most convenient way for end users to shop online. They offer many conveniences:

These advantages mean that merchants on sales platforms can expect better conversion rates, which often outweighs the higher commission payments.

Own your customer

Especially in the start-up phase of a business, wholesalers and sales platforms are the easiest way to quickly reach a broad target group. But platforms keep a lot of important data for analysis and optimization to themselves. But if retailers want to turn casual buyers into existing customers, forge closer customer relationships, and increase awareness of their own brand, a D2C business should be the goal. In this way, manufacturers manage their own customers, data, customer journey, and brand presentation. Through relevant advertising formats in the vicinity of purchase-related content (e.g. product tests and comparisons, unboxing videos, guides), potential buyers can be led directly to a retail store. Manufacturers can thus free themselves from dependence on large platforms – and generate more direct sales.

What’s on your plate, Tobias Weishaupt? Quick interview bites for the lunch break.

Tobias, one question for starters: What do you look for in an affiliate partner?

We pay attention to high quality, both in terms of technology and content. Product data should be provided in high frequency in all relevant formats. If there are any problems, good service should be available. In terms of content quality, it is important to us that the affiliate partner strives to continually enrich the product data – for example, with information on sustainability. To this end, we also foster communication and plan joint projects.

What is the biggest benefit of working with you?

Those who work with us have the advantage of receiving a large amount of very well-prequalified traffic. And to be involved as a preferred partner in developing innovative projects.

What has changed in user behavior during the past few months? And has your strategy changed as a result?

The pandemic boom is over. We see a cooling of the consumer climate, but no drastic change in usage behavior. For two years already, we have pursued the strategy of strengthening sustainability topics and promoting used products. In this respect, we did not have to change our strategy in the short term, but are well-positioned for the coming changes.

What do you expect to be the top industry trends in 2023?

We believe that people will buy less, and thus make more conscious purchase decisions. Which is exactly the use case for Testberichte.de: avoiding bad purchases! This is also a contribution to more sustainability. And that’s where we see another trend.

How so?

Preparing information on sustainability in such a way that it can be understood by everyone is going to be really important. Many people want to consume more sustainably, but don’t know how. Anyone who can help here will benefit from this trend – and contribute to an important paradigm shift.

Thanks for your time, Tobias. Enjoy the rest of your lunch!

About

About Tobias Weishaupt and Testberichte.de

Testberichte.de is Germany’s largest independent portal for comparing products. They process test results from 500 German-language magazines, as well as online reviews and technical specifications. Testberichte.de has been operated by Producto GmbH since 2003 and is a publisher of mrge entity shopping24. They use the s24 Search API (recomAD Data) via the EAN endpoint to add appropriate products to their platform. Our lunch partner Tobias Weishaupt is Head of Business Development at Testberichte.de/Producto GmbH.

Whitepaper:
The Commerce Content Playbook

Commerce Advertising 101: The Most Essential Touchpoints During the Customer Journey

Key Take Aways

Executive summary: 5 key take-aways for quick readers

  1. Commerce Advertising is a particularly effective tool in two stages of the customer journey – the Consideration phase and the Purchase phase.
  2. Advertisers who use “commerce content” in the Consideration phase significantly boost their effectiveness.
  3. Advertisers who have not used Commerce Advertising before the prospective customer compares prices, should do so at this stage (or before).
  4. Advertisers who do not offer coupons for products risk that prospects will decide to purchase from competitors.
  5. Publishers who consistently focus on the customer journey can monetize their content even more successfully.

Commerce Advertising formats are oriented to the actual usage behavior of the respective prospect, thus providing added value and not triggering frustration. In this article, we explain which touchpoints these are, and how advertisers can make best use of them.

The classic model of the customer journey consists of five phases: Awareness, Consideration, Purchase, Retention, and Advocacy. It is particularly effective to use Commerce Advertising during the Consideration and Purchase phases.

Hands-on advice: Commerce Advertising during Consideration and Purchase

In our example, we’ll focus on a seasonally-independent purchase – many users are aware that they should wait for a discount period such as Black Friday or Cyber Week if the purchase is not urgently needed. For ease of reading, we will use “she” and “her” when referring to the user (the prospective customer).

Step 1

If the user is interested in a product, she typically starts by researching it on editorial websites – whether high-reach publishers’ offerings or niche blogs. There, she receives information that is relevant to her, which moves her forward on her journey to purchase the product. The respective editor writes about the pros and cons of specific goods, inspires the potential customer, and links to stores where she could complete the purchase at this point. We refer to all these offers as “commerce content”. Ideally, stores present themselves during this early stage of the customer journey.

Step 2

On the editorial pages, the user has informed herself about different products. On her customer journey, she arrives at a product review page. On this page, all relevant products are presented and evaluated on the basis of their advantages and disadvantages. As a result, she often decides to purchase a product now.

Step 3

The user begins to look for a place to purchase the product. Of course, she doesn’t want to spend too much money and decides to visit a price comparison site to find out where she can buy it most cheaply. At this point, at the latest, stores should be using Commerce Advertising to gain the prospect as a customer.

Step 4

Once the user has found an offer that appeals to her, she visits the relevant store. During check-out, she may be offered a coupon to get the product she wants at an even lower price. She then searches independently for coupons to save even more money. If she finds one – for example, on a coupon portal – she uses it, and finally buys the product. In terms of Commerce Advertising, the customer journey ends here.

Special tips for advertisers: Use commerce content and embrace coupon sites

Even though the customer journey and its touchpoints are familiar, many advertisers and ecommerce stores could leverage it much more effectively – with Commerce Advertising. The fact is: Users inform themselves via commerce content, i.e. audience-specific content on digital channels and digital sales platforms, and editorials on the desired products. If advertisers do not draw attention to themselves with Commerce Advertising at this stage, they decrease their chances of gaining a new customer in a particularly effective way.
Many advertisers are also averse to coupon sites. They argue that coupon providers only appear at the end of the customer journey, and then take a slice of the profit. But please be aware: If you don’t offer a coupon, a competitor might. And with the help of a coupon, they could make the sale even if their offer is actually more expensive.

How can publishers benefit from Commerce Advertising?

The relevance of the customer journey for advertisers is well-known. But why should publishers also try to cover as many touchpoints as possible?

It’s a fact: Content creators can optimally monetize their content with the help of Commerce Advertising. Bloggers who write about certain products can set links to the stores or brand sites where prospects can then buy the product. However, building a coupon or price comparison page is probably too much work for most bloggers.

The situation is different for the big news publishers, where journalists write product reviews, for example. This model is monetized using links to the stores (“commerce content”). In addition, many publishing houses have established their own coupon pages, price comparisons, or product comparisons via white-label providers. With this approach, users are kept on the page for as long as possible. Because of the SEO advantage, a white-label coupon page for news publishers makes perfect sense.

What’s on your plate, Ingmar V. Albert? Quick interview bites for the lunch break.

Hi Ingmar, thanks for talking to us over lunch. Let’s dig in right away: What advantage does Google CSS offer to advertisers?

The main advantage is certainly the CPC (cost per click). The bids of advertisers who have chosen a CSS partner like adstrong are treated as if they were 25% higher. For most online stores, this is equivalent to several hundred euros per month.

How does one implement this advantage?

You can either decide for a growth strategy by leaving the bids unchanged with CSS conversion, and consequently generating more reach & sales. Or you can use the CSS advantage to save costs. In this case, you decrease the CPCs appropriately during the CSS change in order to have lower expenses with similar advertising performance.

What should advertisers look for in a CSS partner?

With smaller Google CSS partners, sometimes the ads cannot use the full reach of the Google network, or the advertisers are limited in terms of appearing internationally. For this reason, I recommend choosing a large and established (premium) CSS partner.

Does it make sense to use Google Shopping Europe (GSE) and CSS in parallel?

To answer that, you need to understand what happens at Google when multiple merchant centers are used in parallel: In principle, multiple “CSS merchant centers” can use the same feed to serve Google Shopping Ads for a merchant. The ads of the different advertisers for a specific product do not compete in Google’s auction for ad space and do not increase each other’s CPCs. Google selects one ad from all available ads for a product, in a kind of pre-auction. This is the one that will perform best in Google’s eyes at the actual auction. The quality of the product information (feed optimization) and the CPCs play the most important role in Google’s choice.

So there’s no point in running similar campaigns with the same feed in GSE and CSS?

Not really. The different merchant centers should follow different strategies and use differently optimized feeds. To receive actual incremental traffic, it can be ideal to work with a CSS partner who also acts as an affiliate or offers managed CSS.

What happens when you do that?

Then you get the best of both worlds: This CSS partner earns less on conversions than the merchant does. Therefore, the partner’s CPCs are lower and their ads usually lose in the pre-auction mentioned above. However, if the ads of the CSS partner do win, they also perform better in the actual auction, and the merchant thus receives incremental additional traffic.

How do you see the future of Google CSS?

Based on the recent court decision, I think the Google CSS program will remain. The adoption rate is quite high and, for the reasons mentioned, most merchants today use a CSS. Through the CSS program, each Google Shopping ad impression is branded with the name of the CSS – at the bottom right corner it says “from CSS” instead of “from Google”. This branding possibility did not exist before.

So is branding going to be the next big thing?

Making optimum use of branding power in the ads could be an exciting future trend. Especially for online agencies or big brands, it is essential to attach their own brand to all ad impressions, using their own CSS. Because it is very time-consuming to operate your own Google CSS, we can help. With Branded Shopping Ads, adstrong provides a large number of European agencies with their own CSS, helping them increase their visibility.

Thanks for your time, Ingmar. Enjoy the rest of your lunch!

About

About Ingmar V. Albert and adstrong

adstrong/bgood GmbH provides Google Shopping Ads Solutions for shops, agencies and Amazon sellers. The company is the only German CSS Premium Partner with certification in all CSS countries. As one of shopping24’s publishers, adstrong makes use of their product data. Ingmar V. Albert is Founder & CEO of adstrong.

Hands-on expertise:
How publishers can profit from the video streaming boom

Key Take Aways

Executive summary: 5 key take-aways for quick readers

  1. Streaming services generated revenue of nearly 93 billion euros in 2022.
  2. Publishers can benefit from high commissions of up to 12 euros per lead.
  3. Content related to series and movies has very high traffic and thus offers attractive monetization opportunities.
  4. In addition to current announcements about series and new releases, publishers should also focus on evergreen content.
  5. By working with platforms like mrge, publishers benefit from better terms and reduce their management overhead.

Market overview: streaming services

In 2022, Subscription Video on Demand (SVoD) services generated global revenue of approx. EUR 93 billion. Annual revenue growth of 8.89 percent is expected through 2027, by which time streaming services will have reached a market volume of EUR 130.80 billion. The introduction of ad-financed subscriptions is poised to further drive market growth.

Best-practice advertiser: Disney+

Commerce Advertising is an attractive way for streaming services to reach new users, promote their own programming, and strengthen their brand. But not every streaming service is equally successful with this approach. Disney+ is a top dog – and not just in terms of user numbers.

The success of Disney+ as an advertiser lies in its forward-looking planning and conscientious use of data: Having identified which target group can best be reached where, Disney+ chooses suitable publishers and, with sufficient lead time, plans campaigns for future content. Disney+ also plans the publishers’ placement of content well in advance.

Why are streaming services so attractive to publishers?

Reviews and other content related to streamed shows and movies are incredibly popular: Almost all users enjoy getting the latest scoop on their favorite series, or discovering hot new shows. For publishers, then, such topics usually guarantee traffic. Commerce Advertising lets publishers monetize this traffic and tap into appealing revenue via commissions. Speaking of commissions: Streaming services pay very high rates compared to advertisers in other industries. For example, publishers can earn up to 11 USD on a subscription to Disney+. With average commissions of below 4 percent in the electronics sector, publishers would have to generate sales of several hundred euros for the advertiser in order to earn roughly as much as they net from a single streaming subscription.

Three tips for publishers: Commerce Advertising in the streaming sector

1. Cater to your audience

Please clarify exactly what content interests your users. The more specific the target group, the narrower the range of possible topics. For example, a blog focusing on fantasy films has little streaming content to promote, compared to a general portal like kino.de. Nevertheless, you should not dilute your thematic focus in favor of higher commissions – otherwise, you risk losing your regular users.

2. Plan your content

Streaming services usually announce upcoming releases with a lead time of several weeks. As a publisher, you need to keep an eye on these announcements and prepare your content in good time. To keep users engaged, your content should be published less than a week prior to the streaming release.

3. Re-use your content

The SVoD sector offers publishers a wide range of possible content. In addition to announcements of new movies, shows, and seasons, entertaining listicles (like “14 Star Wars Plot Holes Bigger Than The Death Star”) enjoy continuous popularity. This evergreen content lets you generate traffic independently of current releases – and you can re-share it via social channels when the time is right.

What are the challenges for publishers?

Most publishers don’t want to work with just one streaming service – they’re looking to cover the widest possible range. However, this entails researching several partner programs, and then creating pitches. For smaller publishers, in particular, this mammoth task often ends in rejection.

With mrge, publishers can delegate the entire application and administration process, and focus exclusively on creating relevant content for their target audience. The application process for multiple partner programs, which often takes weeks, thus speeds up significantly, and publishers tap into ad budgets that would otherwise be unattainable. Plus, by bundling reach via the mrge platform, publishers often receive better conditions than those offered by the individual partner programs.

Buy Now – Pay Later: The Hidden Champion of Commerce Advertising

Key Take Aways

Executive summary: 5 key take-aways for quick readers

  1. Worldwide, 360 million people are already using “buy now – pay later”, also known as “point-of-sale installment loans”.
  2. Retailers offering BNPL achieve 68 percent higher average order values (AOV)
  3. PayPal and Klarna are two of the main providers of BNPL.
  4. BNPL providers are not only payment service providers – through the content in their apps, they also become publishers.
  5. By working with Commerce Advertising platforms like mrge, those providers benefit from higher commissions and customized deals.

Why “buy now – pay later” is the new standard for online retailers

Buying the desired product immediately, but paying later on, is a convenient option for many online shoppers. Largely due to the e-commerce boom driven by Covid-19, “buy now – pay later” (BNPL) reached a market value of $141.8 billion in the midst of the 2021 pandemic and is likely to experience 33 percent annual growth over the next few years.

In this respect, BNPL differs significantly from traditional credit purchasing: The “point-of-sale installment loan” is not granted by a bank or by the retailer, but by payment service providers such as Klarna or PayPal. And the loan is usually repaid without interest, making BNPL particularly attractive for end customers.

BNPL also offers numerous advantages for retailers:

Improved shopping experience: For many customers, it is important that they find their preferred payment method in the checkout process. The increasing popularity of BNPL makes it almost mandatory for e-retailers to offer this option.

Higher conversion rates: The option of paying for a purchase at a later date often triggers customers’ desire to buy. If you offer BNPL, you can benefit from 20-30 percent higher conversion rates. In addition, retailers with this option achieve a 68 percent higher average order value (AOV).

Payment security: When retailers offer BNPL, they hand over processing to the payment service provider. So retailers receive their money in any case – in the event of a payment default, the payment service takes care of balancing the loan. The retailer only pays a transaction fee to the payment service provider.

Download the infographic:

BNPL market overview

As the popularity of BNPL grows, so does the number of providers in this area. Today, the most important players are:

BNPL providers as publishers

In the context of Commerce Advertising, BNPL service providers do more than just lend money to end customers. Through the rich content they offer in their apps and on their websites, they also act as publishers, giving online retailers (advertisers) access to a large number of new customers. However, advertisers benefit from more reach. Payment service providers enjoy a high level of trust, which rubs off on their advertiser partners.

BNPL providers who become active as publishers benefit from working with online retailers in several ways: In addition to the transaction fee they charge when a customer selects “buy now – pay later”, they also receive a commission from the retailer for each successfully referred customer.

By working with a Commerce Advertising platform like mrge, BNPL providers as publishers not only gain access to a large number of advertisers, but also save a lot of administrative effort: all partnerships are managed centrally. In addition, bundling so many advertisers makes higher commissions possible.