86% of Paid Search Ad Spend on Cyber Monday Keywords Occurred Before Cyber Monday in 2015

Paid search advertisers who are sponsoring Cyber Monday keywords this holiday season should be prepared to start their campaigns far earlier than the actual Cyber Monday on November 28, according to AdGooroo research.

In our examination of U.S. Google desktop text ad activity on 70 Cyber Monday-specific keywords in Q4 2015, we found that 86% ($5 million) of the $5.8 million total spent on the keyword group occurred in the 4 weeks leading up to Cyber Monday, which occurred on November 30 last year.

Cyber Monday Keywords 

Holiday 2016 Cyber Monday spend before Cyber Monday

Paid search ad spend on the 70 Cyber Monday keywords in Q4 2015 breaks down as follows:

  • November 1-7 – $397,000
  • November 8-14 – $900,000
  • November 15-21 – $1.5 million
  • November 22-28 – $2.2 million
  • November 29-December 5 – $800,000
Significantly, the week of November 22-28, which includes the Thanksgiving-Black Friday weekend, saw the highest ad spend on the Cyber Monday keywords, $2.2 million.

With $800,000 in spend on the Cyber Monday keywords, the actual week of Cyber Monday, November 29 through December 5, generated less spend than any week in the five-week period except for November 1-7.

For the periods prior to November 1 and after December 5, we did not find significant ad activity on the Cyber Monday keyword group.

We noted a similar phenomenon with Black Friday keywords, and the lessons for both Cyber Monday and Black Friday advertisers is clear—start advertising early in paid search or risk missing out on the bulk of clicks and traffic. Accordingly, advertisers should treat Cyber Monday as a month-long event rather than a single day in order to capture consumers looking for Cyber Monday deals prior to the actual day.

Top Cyber Monday Keywords

Cyber Monday Keywords

Looking at the top Cyber Monday keywords of 2015 by paid search ad spend may provide insight into which keywords Cyber Monday advertisers should sponsor this year.

The majority of paid search spend on Cyber Monday keywords in Q4 2015 was concentrated on the top 2 terms, ‘cyber monday 2015’ and ‘cyber monday deals’, which generated nearly $2.7 million and $2.2 million, respectively, during the quarter.

There was a large decrease in spend on the next three keywords, but it was still significant enough to be notable: ‘cyber monday’ generated $473,000 in spend, followed by ‘best cyber monday deals’ ($213,000) and ‘cyber monday sales’ ($186,000).

However, paid search ad spend dropped precipitously on the remaining 15 terms in the top 20 Cyber Monday keyword ranking last year—together they totaled just $117,000, with an average spend of $7,800 per keyword.

As we saw with Black Friday keywords, choosing the right Cyber Monday keywords to sponsor can be critical. For instance, ‘cyber monday deals’ garnered around 39 million more consumer impressions and $2 million more in ad spend than ‘best cyber monday deals’. The difference is even more dramatic when looking at the term ‘cyber monday deal’, which generated a total of only 221,000 impressions and $8,400 in ad spend during the quarter.

Advertisers occasionally seek to gain a competitive advantage by sponsoring less popular keywords under the assumption they will be cheaper and have less competition. However, neither would be true for the less popular terms in the top 20 Cyber Monday keywords. With the exception of the branded term ‘cyber monday best buy’, the bottom 15 Cyber Monday keywords had a higher average cost per click than the top 5 Cyber Monday keywords ($2.07 vs. $1.24) and averaged virtually the same number of advertisers sponsoring them (68 vs. 69).

For additional Q4 retail insights, download AdGooroo’s new paid search report Preparing for Holiday 2016.

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