Singles Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday in US Paid Search Ads

Today is Singles Day, the Chinese shopping holiday said to be the world’s biggest shopping day of the year.

Shoppers spent a record $9 billion with Chinese retailers on November 11, 2014, and early sales figures are showing that Singles Day spending is on track to break that record today.

U.S. retailers like Macy’s and Nordstrom are getting in on the action this year by advertising sales in the Chinese market. But what about in the U.S. – will Singles Day catch on here?

From a Paid Search perspective, it’s too early to provide an useful assessment of what’s happening with Singles Day in the U.S. market this year, but we are most certainly seeing Paid Search advertising from retailers in the States:

Singles Day Ads found on Nov 10 2015

We actually found retailers advertising on Singles Day keywords in 2014 as well, but total spend was insignificant—Macy’s, Target and Walmart collectively spent less than $10 on the three Singles Day keywords we examined, including ‘singles day’, ‘singles day sales’ and ‘singles day sale’. Significantly, none of the corresponding ads from those three advertisers mentioned Singles Day specifically. but instead promoted general sales or Black Friday sales, suggesting that their ads may have simply shown up on a keyword broad match for the term 'sales'.

Total spend on the Singles Day keywords by all advertisers totaled just $239 last November.

That figure has increased this year. In October we found around $2,600 in spend on the same Singles Day keywords, but none of it came from retail advertisers. Instead, the bulk of the Singles Day Paid Search spend last month came from online dating sites like southjerseymatchmakers.com and elitesingles.com, who are likely broad matching on the term ‘singles’, and shenglidigital.com, a consultancy offering guidance for U.S. retailers to participate in Singles Day in the Chinese market.

Singles Day spend figures will undoubtedly increase in November this year as well, with retailers such as Newegg and Bonton entering the field and clearly advertising for Singles Day in their ad copy (as seen in the ads above from November 10th).

Black Friday & Cyber Monday

Whatever advertisers’ U.S. Paid Search spend on Singles Day turns out to be this year, it’s unlikely Singles Day will overtake our own high-profile commercial holidays in Paid Search anytime soon.

According to AdGooroo data, the keyword ‘black Friday 2014’ was the #3 top retail keyword of last year in terms of Paid Search spend, generating $15.2 million in Desktop Text Ad spend—behind only ‘flowers’ ($19.8 million) and ‘engagement rings’ ($16.3 million). Further, Paid Search advertisers spent an additional $7 million on 160 other Black Friday keywords, including ‘black friday deals’ ($1.4 million) and ‘black friday’ ($1.2 million).

This year, we noted the early start to Black Friday advertising in Paid Search and subsequently have found that the term ‘black Friday deals’ was the #3 top keyword in October with more than $1 million in Paid Search spend. (Again, behind only ‘engagement rings’ and ‘flowers’.)

Cyber Monday-related keywords generated $4.3 million in Paid Search spend in 2014, with the top term ‘cyber monday’ producing $2.1 million in spend, followed by ‘cyber monday deals’ ($1.7 million). Those two terms together generated $552,000 in October this year.

American Singles

Given the relatively small amount spent on Singles Day advertising in Paid Search in the U.S. over the last two years, it would be difficult to make the case that Singles Day will take root in the U.S. market in the near future. It's also far from a household name here.

However, it may also be instructive to consider that the term Black Friday had virtually no meaning for U.S. consumers prior to the early 2000s when retailers and the media began conditioning shoppers to look for deep discounts at stores the day after Thanksgiving.

And then there's Cyber Monday, which was essentially invented by a retail trade group in 2005 for a similar purpose, to encourage online sales.

Today, of course, you would be hard-pressed to find a shopper in the U.S. who was not familiar with either of these commercial holidays.

(More recently, Amazon attempted to launch its own commercial holiday in July with Prime Day. Paid search ad spend on the term ‘amazon prime day’ hit more than $530,000 that month.)

So while Singles Day in the U.S. may never be the sales powerhouse it is in China, there may indeed come a time soon when U.S. shoppers look forward to November 11 sales to kick off the holiday shopping season.



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