Using out of home on Black Friday
As the UK experiences one of the biggest shopping days of the year, Posterscope's Glen Wilson looks at how retailers can use out-of-home to really reap the rewards.
Black Friday is the biggest online shopping day of the festive season. What started as a US phenomenon in which retailers across the country slashed prices the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday was brought over to the UK by e-commerce giant Amazon in 2010.
Now firmly a fixture in the UK's Christmas retail firmament, a recent report by Visa Europe forecast that British shoppers will spend more than £1 million every three minutes this year. That's £360,000 every minute, or £6,000 every second, as consumers race to take advantage of the widespread discounts.
Given that UK consumers are set to exceed the £200 million spent on Black Friday last year, it's understandable that retailers across the nation are keen to capitalise on the event this time around.
What's really important for retailers is that the day kicks off a particular retail sales pattern that holds true until Christmas."
However, as easy as it is to get swept up in the Black Friday buzz, what's really important for retailers is that the day kicks off a particular retail sales pattern that holds true until Christmas. It helps open up consumer wallets in a way that no other day of the year does, and if retailers are smart about how they advertise, they can ensure those wallets stay open right through to the New Year.
Nowadays everyone has a smartphone in their pocket, which means the landscape has changed for out-of-home advertisers. In November and December 2013, mobile sales reached 35.6 per cent of all online sales (tablets accounting for 22 per cent and smartphones 13.6 per cent). Mobile also accounted for almost half (47.3 per cent) of all online traffic (smartphones accounting for 25.2 per cent and tablets 22.1 per cent).
The rise in 3G and 4G, coupled with smartphone penetration reaching over 70 per cent of people in the UK, means there is little to no distinction in online or offline - consumers are now always on.
A recent study by Deloitte reveals that some 40 per cent of physical shop sales will be digitally influenced, meaning consumers will use some form of digital technology to inform or facilitate their purchase. As consumer connectedness increases, marketeers need their advertising to become more responsive to consumers' needs, preferences and behaviour, especially during big events such as Black Friday where deals can be changed every few minutes. It's an urgent day with limited time to make an impact.
However, planning for Black Friday and the Christmas period isn't so much about real-time advertising than it is about "right-time" advertising. Mondays are often the most popular day for online sales, Saturdays for smartphone sales, weekdays are best for PC sales as people tend to buy things whilst they are at work, and evenings see the most tablet usage and therefore ultimately sales.
For real-time to work properly it needs to be part of a strategy, and offers need to be informed by data to stimulate sales behaviour."
So advertisers looking to inspire online sales could offer specific online discounts for customers via out-of-home (OOH) on their commute to work on Monday mornings, or try and coax people into stores on Saturdays with location-specific deals.
Of course, real-time does still have a role to play. Where it can be most effective is in being used to influence particular types of sales at the best possible times of day, and helping retailers track a sale to better understand and influence the consumer's path to purchase. In Black Friday terms, this could be tracked by the amount of people being influenced by the individual 'limited time' deals that are offered throughout the day.
For real-time to work properly it needs to be part of a strategy, and offers need to be informed by data to stimulate sales behaviour. Location, weather and social media data can all help advertisers tailor ads and placement via particular criteria, and can also help to tailor in store deals to make them both more personal and more relevant.
There are several big players involved in Black Friday in the UK space, including John Lewis, Asda and Amazon. Asda, owned by America's biggest retailer Walmart, last year ran flash promotions within stores, leading to chaotic scenes as consumers rushed to pick up products for "earth shattering prices".
Amazon this year announced it would be running deals from as early as Monday 24 November to build momentum and customer loyalty before D-Day, including discounts as high as £1,000 off cameras. John Lewis is said to be offering proactive deals, as opposed to price matching, for the first time ever.
There is a huge opportunity for OOH to help support campaigns like this in a more reactive way that better relates to the way in which people spend. OOH now has the infrastructure in place to produce more effective advertising campaigns than ever before, and no sales period is more measurable or more lucrative than the Christmas period Black Friday kicks off.
Data can inform smarter, better, more effective campaigns planned around how, when and where their target audience want to buy. By embracing the power of the new OOH infrastructure and the data that informs it to plan themselves around consumer behaviour, retailers can help ensure that their Black Friday activity kicks off their biggest Christmas ever.
Glen Wilson is managing director at Posterscope