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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.

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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.

shopping spree on Singles' Day: comparison of merchandise value and sales on major online sale days

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. 

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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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what our EXPERTS say
Ideally, a coupon campaign is just the beginning of a beautiful friendship!
Benjamin Boucher, Head of sales of digidip

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.  

Publishers’ Q&A: How to create commerce content based on keyword data

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Why is keyword data important for creating commerce content? 

The best content is useless if it can’t be found and consumed. Especially if publishers want to monetize this content, good findability is worth its weight in gold. Keyword data helps you prepare content in a search engine-friendly way, opening up another important traffic source besides social media.

Keyword data provides information about the search intentions of users. The better creators understand these search intentions, the better they can respond with their content. In terms of intent, search queries can be divided into three categories:

There are three categories of search queries: the transactional search, the informational search and the navigational search

What keyword data exists, and how can it be obtained?

Numerous tools on the market offer keyword analysis. For an initial analysis, free keyword tools like Google Trends or Ubersuggest are fine. Although they provide limited insight into keyword data, and often allow only a few queries per month, they give a good first impression and indicate which keywords are worth deeper research.

Such deeper research is possible with paid tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner, the Moz Keyword Explorer or Mangools’ Keyword Finder. Because they draw on a large “treasure trove” of data, they can provide detailed information on keywords and their use in search engines.

Depending on which keyword tool is used, various types of keyword data can be collected to help you create commerce content. These include:

Related search queries: Most keyword tools not only provide data on the keyword queried (e.g. “coffee machine”), but also on related search queries (e.g. “rent coffee machine”, “fully automatic coffee machine”, “coin-operated coffee machine”).

How can keywords be derived from existing texts?

A keyword analysis as described above primarily helps you create new content that is suitable for search engines. But what about existing content? Various tools are available, such as the free Google Search Console. This is a powerful tool for search engine optimization, and every site operator who wants a successful website should set it up. The Search Console shows, for example, which keywords users entered in order to reach a page. This helps you better understand the search intentions – and align the content accordingly.

How can commerce content be created based on keyword data?

At the end of keyword research, publishers have answered three important questions:

Knowledge of the search intent and related search queries tells you which content aspects a text should cover in order to satisfy the user’s needs. These aspects (keywords) form the content framework, so to speak. 

To make it easy for search engines like Google to capture the content of texts and assign it to the correct search queries, the identified keywords and their synonyms should be placed in a few essential places:

When placing keywords, it is important to think like a reader, and not simply cram all of the search terms in. Keywords should be used wisely so that the end result is an informative text that is easy to read for users and, at best, entertaining. It’s a good idea to use the main keyword in the headline and related keywords in the subheadings to structure the content of the text.

It is important to place the identified keywords and their synonyms in essential places within the text.

Are keywords only relevant for texts?

No! Keywords help boost the findability of many types of content. For example, they can be placed in video titles and descriptions, or in podcast show notes, so that these videos can be found more easily on YouTube and other platforms. In addition, keywords in the form of hashtags can also be used in posts on social networks.Performance publishers such as coupon and cashback portals or price comparison sites should also use a keyword strategy. The right placement of keywords, for example in headlines and meta data, can serve transactional search queries in particular – and thus increase traffic.

The mrge Content Calendar: Turn special occasions into extra revenue — with seasonal content.

The mrge Content Calendar 

As a publisher, you don’t need to acknowledge every obscure social media holiday (although International Talk Like a Pirate Day might work for you), but there are a lot of good publishing opportunities apart from the major occasions. Putting yourself in your readers’ shoes always helps: Which dreams and needs might your audience have – for example in January? The winter months may spark thoughts about new interior, a healthier diet, or the next ski trip. What’s on their mind when spring returns? Gardening, weddings, or motorcycles? Be creative! The more relevant you make your content, the more attractive it becomes as an environment for advertiser campaigns. Think interaction rates, commissions, and additional revenue! The mrge Content Calendar is designed to inspire you as a publisher. Feel free to add our ideas and suggestions to your editorial plan – or simply download the whole calendar.

Vertical Special: Commerce Advertising in the Travel Sector

Long before Commerce Advertising became a trend, travel bloggers were among the first to successfully monetize their content. But why do travel and Commerce Advertising go so well together, and what opportunities does this present for advertisers and publishers?

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Travel and Commerce Advertising: opportunities for publishers and advertisers 

Hardly anyone books a trip in just a few clicks without first comparing accommodations and researching the best flights. Vacationers often explore possible activities, culinary offerings, and rental car services ahead of time. Planning a trip therefore involves a high demand for information, which advertisers and publishers can tap into. Advertisers who work with many different publishers have the opportunity to reach users at multiple stages of the customer journey. 

Travel is an incredibly diverse topic with a very broad target audience. Publishers have the opportunity to address many different sub-topics, such as hotel recommendations, activities and experiences at various destinations, flight comparisons, and travel insurance offers. What’s more, travel is an emotional topic. People searching online for their next vacation destination are inspired by exciting stories, expressive photos, and thrilling videos. So publishers can use many different content formats to reach their target group, and everyone can find their niche. For advertisers in the travel sector, Commerce Advertising is the ideal way to reach their target group at an early point in the customer journey at comparatively low cost, namely when they are looking for possible travel destinations and researching all the important vacation aspects. Voucher and cashback sites are also ideal for covering topics in the travel environment. After all, smart shoppers are also smart travelers.

Top 5 affiliate programs for the travel sector

If you are active as a content creator on travel topics and want to monetize your content, you can choose from a variety of possible affiliate programs. Among the best known are the following:

Covid-19 and the travel sector: How publishers and advertisers should respond

Travel was one of the sectors hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic. From one day to the next, global tourism came to a standstill. Now, with most restrictions lifted, the desire to travel is on the rise again. Many people feel they have two years to catch up on. So it’s hardly surprising that estimates predict annual growth of over 8% through 2026, with up to 73% travel market revenue generated online by then. For advertisers and publishers, this is an important opportunity to make up for the lean pandemic period. However, they should keep in mind that the global pandemic has caused three profound changes in the travel sector:

Higher demand for advice

Anyone planning a trip today is not only looking for inexpensive accommodations and flights, but is also confronted with different rules and regulations regarding vaccination certificates, mask requirements, tests, and possible quarantine periods. The amount of research required has thus increased significantly. Content creators have the opportunity to stand out by serving this need for information.

Higher need for security

Even after the lifting of most restrictions, many travelers have concerns about whether their booked trip can actually take place. Advertisers should thus focus on offers that provide their target group with security, such as flexible rebooking or extended cancellation periods. A survey by eMarketer also shows that, in future, travelers will attach more importance to cleaning and disinfection, contactless payment, and spacious lounges. Advertisers should place relevant information at the forefront of their communications – and also pass this on to publishers – in order to address users’ concerns at the earliest possible point in the customer journey.

Vacationing closer to home

Since travel across national borders was almost impossible at the start of the pandemic, many vacationers focused on local tourism. In addition, many people have become aware of how much the travel sector suffered from the lockdown, and now want to support the local economy. Vacationing locally (or domestically) is a trend that advertisers and content creators should continue to focus on.

Workation: a growing trend in the travel sector

Thanks to advancing digitization, location-independent working has become a real trend in many industries. Not only the self-employed, but also many employees whose employers make it possible are discovering “workation”: a mode combining work and vacation. As a result, the classic travel seasons of summer vacations and winter sports are no longer the only communication occasions for advertisers and publishers in the travel market. Many content creators are now explicitly targeting digital nomads, i.e. people who work independently of location and thus combine work and travel. Travel providers are also increasingly discovering this target group for themselves. However, digital nomads and other people interested in “workation” have different information needs than private travelers. For example, factors such as Internet speed and co-working spaces are very relevant. Publishers and advertisers who want to attract digital nomads as a target group must meet this need for information.

Commerce Advertising for Content Creators: 5 Steps to the Ideal Strategy

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What is Commerce Advertising? 

Commerce Advertising refers to useful advertising that reaches users during the purchase-relevant phases of the customer journey. The advertising formats are aimed at clearly measurable conversions such as purchases or newsletter subscriptions. The advertising formats are appropriate to the content in whose environment they appear, and offer added value to users. The term Commerce Content is also used in this context. This refers to content published by creators that revolves around services or products and contains monetized links to these offers. This content can range from editorial articles, to videos and podcasts, to coupons and deals.

Why should content creators rely on Commerce Advertising?

Content creators – such as bloggers, YouTubers and influencers on Instagram and TikTok – are very attractive to the advertising market for several key reasons:

In addition, they produce the content that is relevant for advertisers anyway. Monetizing this content is often the next logical step. But how can content creators get started in Commerce Advertising?

5 steps to a Commerce Advertising strategy for content creators

1. Make an inventory

As a first step, content creators should get a systematic overview of their own content, both created and planned. List the topics covered as well as the content formats. It is irrelevant whether creators only cover a very specific topic or are more broadly positioned. 

A range of insights can be derived from this inventory:

It’s also helpful for creators getting started in Commerce Advertising to have a solid idea of their followers. What are their interests? How do they interact with the content, the creator, and each other? Demographic data such as age and place of residence can also be interesting. In addition, content creators should consider whether there are other target groups they would like to reach with their content in the future.

2. Decide: Commerce Advertising or paid collaborations?

For influencers, paid collaborations and sponsorships are part of everyday life. Content creators are paid by companies to promote their products or services. The advantage for creators is that they usually do not have to take care of the establishment of such a cooperation themselves. Their reach, target group, and thematic focus make them interesting for advertisers, so that creators are approached by them (directly or via platforms) as cooperation partners. Under current law, however, such sponsorships must be clearly labeled as advertising. As a result, followers may perceive this content as less credible – and lose interest in it.

Commerce Advertising, on the other hand, is less obvious: Content creators talk about products that have convinced them personally, carry out product comparisons, for example, and then link to the purchase options at the appropriate point. However, content creators must take care to monetize these links themselves.

3. Identify tools and networks

But creators are not completely on their own when it comes to monetizing their commerce content. Platforms like mrge and their networks enable bloggers and influencers to find suitable partnerships. With little effort, creators can register with mrge and create monetized links with which they can then forward their followers to the site of the companies also represented in the network via their content. These links can be placed in blog texts, TikTok and Instagram bios, video descriptions, or podcast show notes, for example. These links can be used to track exactly which conversion came about via which creator, so that the creator then receives the corresponding commission.

Several tools also help make content creation and monetization as smooth as possible. These include URL shorteners for generating links to post on social networks. Some platforms also offer browser extensions that can be used to obtain important information, such as CPA rates, directly from the merchant’s site. This information then helps identify the right partners.

4. Produce content

This step should be the easiest for content creators, because they just need to create authentic and interesting content for their followers. It is not necessary to be effusively positive about the product of a company from the partner program. On the contrary, Commerce Advertising thrives on neutrality and credibility. The only difference from non-monetized content is the placement of affiliate links.

5. Analyze and optimize

If creators want to reach even more people with their content, and generate higher revenues, it makes sense to regularly analyze the content. The Commerce Advertising platforms also help with this. Creators can see exactly where which revenues come from, but also how people interact with the content, and how the users access their content. These insights help to uncover potential for optimization.

Win-win situation 

Commerce Advertising offers content creators the opportunity to generate additional revenue streams – using the content they’re creating anyway. With minimal additional effort, content can be monetized and a major financial impact achieved. The numerous advantages over traditional sponsorship are what make Commerce Advertising so effective: When content creators talk about products that have personally convinced them, and neutrally draw attention to purchase opportunities, the entire contribution is not labeled as advertising. Commerce Advertising is much more understated than sponsoring, but no less effective.

Hands-on transactional searches: How publishers can monetize purchase-friendly contexts

Many publishers who have implemented a search function on their portals overlook the great potential hidden within. The targeted display of product recommendations in transactional searches can generate attractive additional revenues. But what exactly are “transactional searches” – and how can they be monetized?

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Search intent: What types of search queries are there?

Behind every query made on Google (or any other search engine) is a specific search intent. In other words, the user wants to achieve something with their query. Based on this intent, almost every search fits into one of three categories:

  1. Navigational search: The user wants to get to a very clear destination – a specific website or subpage. They are not interested in the widest possible selection, but want to reach their goal with as few clicks as possible. Examples of this search query are: “Instagram”, “Federal Ministry of Transport”, or “Zalando Contact”.
  2. Informational search: The user wants to acquire knowledge, find information, or have specific questions answered. Typical search queries begin with the 5 Ws, but may also look like “Mount Everest height”, “risotto recipe”, or “build my own bookshelf”.
  3. Transactional search: The user has a clear intent to make a purchase or another type of conversion, such as a download. This takes place in a late phase of the customer journey and often contains keywords such as “buy” or “order”, but there is also usually a purchase intent behind specific product names or descriptions such as “coffee machine” or “iPhone 11”.

Search intent plays a central role in SEO: If you understand user intent, you can produce content that matches it. However, for publishers who have integrated a search function on their site (for example, from Google, Bing, or a proprietary tool), understanding the various search intentions also offers another important monetization opportunity.

Monetizing transactional searches

For site operators who offer advertising space for various formats, such as banner advertising, it is essential to enable ad playout that is as user-relevant as possible. The more closely an ad corresponds to the interests and intent of a site visitor, the higher the click rate. This means not only more revenue for the advertiser, but also more commissions for the publisher.

How are transactional searches monetized?

In order to generate revenue from transactional searches, they must first be recognized as such. This is best achieved by using a neural model that classifies the text of the search query. Machine learning is used to train this model to distinguish between transactional and non-transactional input in the search field. To do this, the model is fed two sets of data, for example from product databases or SEA data. Software solutions such as recomAD Transactional Search help with exactly this. As a result, publishers do not have to develop a neural model themselves or deal with machine learning.

This also helps to overcome the challenge of obtaining training data for non-transactional searches. Often, the context determines whether a specific keyword indicates an intent to buy. Why this is so critical can be illustrated with a simple example: Suppose a user is on a news portal, looking for current information about a knife attack that happened in his hometown. How macabre would it then be if advertisements for knife sets or similar products appeared in the search results because “knife” was identified as a keyword?

Once the model has been trained, it can be integrated into the site’s search function. If a search query is then recognized as transactional, suitable shopping ads are displayed via a widget.

Page operators who use such a model must make sure to train it regularly with fresh data in order to keep up with current developments. This is because the intent behind a specific search phrase can change over time. An example from Germany: Until early 2020, the search query “Selbsttest” (“self-test”) was mainly informational: Users were looking for self-diagnosis options, or wanted to take personality tests on entertainment websites. Today, the keyword “Selbsttest” is usually transactional: Users want to buy COVID-19 self-tests for home use.

Transactional searches: game-changer in Commerce Advertising

Publishers can increase their performance – and thus tap into new sources of revenue – by displaying product recommendations in a precisely tailored manner. The use of machine learning ensures that transactional searches are reliably recognized and users are only addressed with product recommendations if they already have an intent to purchase. Thanks to the higher relevance, products are displayed less frequently, but more precisely. Compared to a standard ad or widget without transactional logic, click-through rates are up to 140% higher and conversion rates are up to 65% higher : a clear benefit for publishers and advertisers.

Have you implemented a search engine on your portal and want to monetize the search queries? Learn more about how recomAD Transactional Search can support you.