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Midnight Madness: Cyber Monday Shoppers Buy Late into the Night

Cyber Monday 2012 was the largest U.S. online shopping day in history, bringing in an estimated $1.46 billion in just 24 hours. With sales projections for this year’s big day up to $1.8 billion, it’s become more important than ever to adequately prepare for the day so many consumers have been conditioned to turn to for the best online deals of the season.

While plenty of paid search statistics and advice have been published to help advertisers put their best foot forward on Cyber Monday, there is still one lesser talked about trend that may make all the difference. That is, that the most important hours of the day may be the last.

Orders Increase Throughout the Day

For most advertisers, paid search orders on Cyber Monday steadily pick up throughout the day, peaking in the last hours as customers return just before midnight to take advantage of soon to expire deals. For one well-tenured IR 500 apparel retailer whose Cyber Monday orders are charted below, 37% of orders were placed between the hours of 8 pm and midnight EST.

Compare this to the advertiser’s percentage of orders by time period for Mondays in the weeks leading up to CM, during which the last four hours of the day accounted for only 23% of orders:

Thus, late night is much more important for this advertiser on Cyber Monday than it is for Mondays during other weeks.

So what can advertisers do to make sure they’re taking advantage of this trend?

Keep Promotions Live through Midnight of All Time Zones

Advertisers based on the east coast may have their website messaging and offers timed to change right at midnight Eastern Standard Time. This forfeits valuable hours in other time zones, however, as those in the middle of the country and on the west coast log on late at night for last second shopping.

To fully take advantage of the increased demand on Cyber Monday across the country, don’t cut your promotion short due to time zone differences.

Keep Cyber Monday Ad Copy Up

Advertisers may also have ad copy scheduled to flip at midnight of the time zone that their Adwords account is set to. Keeping promotional and holiday messaging up through the end of the day for all time zones will ensure that searchers see the most timely and relevant copy.

Don’t Pull Back on Bids Too Early

If you have bidding timed specifically for Cyber Monday, be sure that you don’t pull back before searchers in all time zones have finished their CM shopping. Pulling back too early while others are still pushing may limit the number of customers who see your ads, causing you to miss valuable traffic and orders.

Conclusion

On what will likely be the biggest online shopping day in the history of the United States, even optimizing for a few hours in a couple of time zones can mean big gains for your paid search program. As such, make sure your strategy adequately accounts for the late night rush to ensure you get the most out of Cyber Monday 2013.

  • Mia Brennan
    Mia Brennan is Director of PPC Testing & Analytics at RKG....
  • Andy Taylor
    Andy Taylor is a Senior Research Analyst at RKG.
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