I don’t know about you, but I am giddy to see the holidays wrap up. The stress around securing gifts, balancing time between family and friends, and arranging travel is for good cause, but rarely missed come calmer months.
As a digital advertising researcher, however, the holiday season is thrilling. Spend from brands eager to reach the right consumers pours into the programmatic marketplace and unique approaches taken by brands and industries emerge. The rabid marketing taking place during this time indicates the savvy, sheer size, and importance of programmatic as a means to influence and drive sales from consumers.
We’ve been studying brand spend over the course of the holiday season and now that it’s concluded, we have a good grasp on how the holiday advertising season unfolded and programmatic’s role in it. Today, we’re exploring the two biggest days in the holiday advertising season.
The Big Two
At Index Exchange we defined the holiday advertising season as the Sunday before November 22 through the Saturday after New Year’s Day (we’ve broken down brand spend by weeks in previous posts – start with Week 1 here). Of these 42 days, two days emerge as key periods during which advertisers across the board amplified their holiday spend. These two days are Cyber Monday (not a big surprise there) and Tuesday, December 22nd (Christmas came a few days later, on Friday).
- Cyber Monday and Last Chance Tuesday far overindexed 2015 average daily spend. Cyber Monday’s spend was 104% higher than the daily average for 2015, while Last Chance Tuesday (December 22nd) trumped the average by 86%.
- Index Exchange transacted slightly more impressions on Cyber Monday. Impression volume (i.e. the number of impressions Index Exchange transacted globally, in private and open markets) was 4% higher on Cyber Monday than on Last Chance Tuesday. On Cyber Monday, Index Exchange transacted 56% more impressions than the daily average.
- Winning bid prices were higher on Last Chance Tuesday. Winning bid prices were 5% higher on Last Chance Tuesday than they were on Cyber Monday. This suggests that advertiser competition for specific impressions (i.e. informed by data that indicates a worthy target to the advertiser) may have been slightly steeper closer to Christmas, on Last Chance Tuesday.
- Cyber Monday’s clear prices had a slight edge. While specific advertisers may have competed more arduously for impressions on Last Chance Tuesday, the clear prices were 5% higher on Cyber Monday. This indicates there was more competition overall for impressions on Cyber Monday: the more advertisers bid on an impression, the higher the clear price.
- Private marketplaces were more popular on Last Chance Tuesday. But not by much. On Last Chance Tuesday 9% of overall global spend transacted through private marketplaces. The number was insignificantly lower at 8% on Cyber Monday.
Differences between how verticals spent on Cyber Monday and Last Chance Tuesday provide an interesting window into how brands have analyzed their target consumers’ holiday purchasing habits. Specifically:
- Big ticket items are marketed earlier in the holiday season. Retailers focused the bulk of their spend on the early holiday season. This makes sense –the vertical runs the bulk of Cyber Monday sales and is focused on capturing wallet share early on to allow for delivery time (and reach the consumer before they’ve run out of holiday funds). The top three vertical categories for Cyber Monday were Retail (Apparel and Footwear,) Retail (Consumer Electronics), and Retail (unclassified/long-tail.)
- Holiday CPG spend pours in later on. Later in the season shows an uptick from advertiser categories within the CPG vertical. The vertical category that allocated the most spend on Last Chance Tuesday was CPG – Over-the-Counter pharma.
- Retail has highest pricing on Cyber Monday. Retailers placed the highest average winning bid prices on Cyber Monday. In addition to topping the list of industries’ winning bid price averages, the retail vertical additionally yielded the highest clear prices on Cyber Monday.
- Retail competition still steep on Last Chance Tuesday, though CPG cleared higher. Pricing shifted a bit on Last Chance Tuesday – retailers placed the highest average winning bid prices, while CPG: Over-the-Counter pharma paid the highest average clear prices.
Exchange Wide Spend on ‘The Big Two’
The graphs below depict the ten industries that spent the most on Cyber Monday and Last Chance Tuesday. For sensitivity reasons we cannot report absolute numbers, so they are shown here by relative index.
Pricing by Industry on ‘The Big Two’
The graphs below show how industries valued impressions on Cyber Monday and Last Chance Tuesday. Winning bid price refers to the highest bid placed for an impression within a programmatic auction. Clear price refers to the second highest bid placed by an advertiser within a programmatic auction. The advertiser that places the winning bid price wins the auction, but only pays the value of the second highest bid for the impression.
Average Winning Bid Prices by Vertical
Average Clear Prices by Vertical