Key shopping days for advertisers in the countdown to Christmas
6 min read

Key shopping days for advertisers in the countdown to Christmas

Key shopping days cannot be overlooked by digital advertisers. From e-commerce, to travel and entertainment, making sure your brand’s ad campaigns are ready is a priority. Indeed, from the moment summer vacations are over, the clock is ticking.

Yes, it’s that time of the year again! When seemingly every other week between November and December is make or break. When everyone is focuses on one thing: selling, selling as much stuff as they can possibly sell. Between November and December 2017, $1.087 billion was spent in online retail in the U.K alone!

And, of course, knowing which day is when, the differences between them, and their country specific focuses, is vital when building display advertising that performs. Here’s what you need to know…

Singles Day

First-up, Singles Day. The day falls on the 11th of November… or 11/11. It’s the biggest shopping day on the planet, with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba raking in an eye-popping $25.4 billion alone in 2017. It’s bigger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined! Previously, not knowing about Singles Day was totally understandable.  Not anymore. It’s the first big shopping day of the season. Even Swedish retailers are getting in on the act!

Here’s a brief history of Singles Day: it’s totally made up!

Indeed, the shopping day started – believe it or not– as a holiday in China for single students. It was a day where the singles of the world (well, China specifically), celebrated by treating themselves. The day came and went, until in 2009, Alibaba began a campaign focusing on the fictional holiday. The timing was perfect and sales went stratospheric.

It’s a massive e-shopping event in China, with websites, apps and even an epic variety show dedicated to building the hype. Take its latest four-hour live show: according to Variety the bonanza featured Nicole Kidman, Pharrell Williams, and bizarrely Maria Sharapova outrunning dominos… as well as Chinese cinema legends Donnie Yen and Jet Li.

Singles Day is now the most important date on the advertising calendar in China. Its rapid evolution all the more remarkable given the country’s typically collectivist culture.

So, how long until the western world latches on to this? Probably not in quite the way you’d expect. November 11th, Remembrance Day, is a sombre day in many countries. Rather than bringing Singles’ Day to the West, which would clash with Remembrance Day, it’s more likely that Singles’ Day will grow to be a boon for companies who export to China.

For example, Alibaba has already lured many international companies onto its platforms. More than 40% of the brands taking part this year came from outside China, according eMarketer research. Those brands who can adapt, and translate, their display advertising are onto a winner.

Black Friday

Let’s begin with a brief back story. Black Friday was once mainly an American shopping day. This is because it’s the Friday after Thanksgiving – one of the most important dates in US cultural life, when families are together, and most adults are on vacation. It’s always been a huge in-store sales day, as it falls on a US public holiday – and is a few weeks before Christmas.

Fast-forward a few decades, and it’s now a worldwide phenomenon. The sales are crazy, and sometimes the consumers are even crazier, as a quick YouTube search demonstrates.

It’s the biggest Western shopping day of the year by some distance. And for brands, taking advantage of this key shopping date is an absolute must. Producing a fine display campaign is essential.

For example, in the UK, nearly a quarter (24%) of all Christmas gift buying is expected to occur on Black Friday, according to a poll of British consumers by technology publishing group Purch. Which considering Thanksgiving isn’t even a holiday in the UK, is impressive!

However, be warned! Brands must try to steer clear of treating Black Friday as a one-off. There should be good deals, remarkable advertising, as well as the infrastructure to target customers in place, well in advance.

Plus, the game is changing. According to NPD Group’s chief industry analyst, Marshal Cohen: “The last-minute shoppers have moved their timing up”. Thanks to Black Friday and indeed, Cyber Monday consumers are now less likely to wait to the last minute for Christmas gifts.

Cyber Monday

The next date on our key shopping day hit list is Cyber Monday. The Black Friday of the digital age, and now a regular fixture on the e-commerce calendar.

It falls on the Monday after Black Friday and almost all major e-commerce brands will run a campaign for it. Again, the day features offers that you wouldn’t see at any other time of the year.

Indeed, different shopping days have different focuses. Whereas Black Friday is better for electronics, Cyber Monday is good for soft goods. Clothes and shoes are especially great to promote via display ads, while beauty products are another fine, Cyber Monday category.

Cyber Monday

A key to marketers planning a successful Cyber Monday campaign is prepping their mobile presence in anticipation of the big day. A survey, conducted by retail data analytics company Euclid Analytics, asked which shopping days US smartphone owners were excited about. It turns out that nearly three-quarters (72%) said Cyber Monday.

Which is great for those digital marketers with access to enterprise-level creative management platforms! As optimizing shopping mobile ads on the fly, adding live product feeds, and creating friendly CTAs is easy. Rather than rehashing Black Friday banners, ads can be updated in real-time for Cyber Monday, or scheduled well in advance to change.

Green Monday

Last, but not least, is Green Monday. And to quote a colleague, “What the…?”.

Indeed, we already have Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, so what on earth is Green Monday? Well, believe it or not, it’s the second biggest shopping day of the year in terms of online revenue.

Green Monday falls on the second Monday in December, and was originally coined back in 2007 by eBay. They used the term to describe their best sales day in December. The phrase was used for two reasons. Firstly, green meant revenue for the company. Second, eBay like to market themselves as green. Well, the firm was originally built on people selling second hand goods, which is a form of recycling!

The name stuck, and today all the big retailers are getting involved. It’s one last chance for brands to boost Christmas revenue (and still get their deliveries out on time). Both are vital, as reducing little Timmy to tears as he reaches into an empty stocking can seriously damage your brand’s reputation! The simple lesson is the day offers huge value for advertisers and viewers alike!

The sales tend to be a little more toned down when compared to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Singles Day but it’s still important to make the most of this key shopping day. Again, if you have the ability to change, or plan your advertising to reflect the day you are onto a winner.

Three thing to consider when advertising for these dates

So what should you be looking to do for these shopping days? How can brands and display advertisers make the most of these key e-commerce dates? Here are three ways to give your holiday revenues a boost.

Plan your display advertising

Your pre-Christmas display campaigns should always have fantastic, remarkable designs and be converting views into conversions, but for the big sales days you need to be different! You really need to highlight that you’re taking part!

Have your brand attached to the specific days. Do this and as soon as someone sees the words ‘Black and ‘Friday together, they know there are going to be exclusive, one-time offers on products that they just might be interested in. Take advantage of this by making sure it’s present on your scheduled ads in the days leading up to the event.

Show your spectacular offers! 

It’s no good just saying you’re having a key shopping day sale, you need to back it up with amazing discounts and offers. Look at what your competitors are doing, and try to beat them. Stand out from the hundreds of thousands of other e-shops by making offers your audience can’t refuse. As long as you’re still making a bit of profit too, of course.

Hype the shopping day up!

Think like Alibaba! These dates are the biggest shopping days of the year, and they keep getting bigger! Use your banner ads to generate hype. Look at your biggest, most desired items, and maybe tease that they will be on offer when the day comes. Apply dynamic creative campaigns to make your offerings hyper-relevant for viewers.

You could even have silhouettes of these items, with a countdown to the day itself. Plus, use a CTA that contains a ‘notify me’ type of button, desperate viewers may give their details so you can send out a mailshot when the time comes. That way, they’re getting what they want, and you’re getting another potential conversion.

Running display campaigns for key shopping days

If you want to be seen during the shopping season, then make sure your brand is running an online display campaign. Not just for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but also for Green Monday and Singles Day. Run campaigns around these days so your brand can stand out from the crowd. Here’s a gentle reminder of those key shopping dates:

Key shopping dates for e-commerce

I know what you’re thinking. The thought of designing and implementing four separate ad campaigns seems daunting, but it doesn’t need to be!

With Bannerflow, it’s really simple to design and publish an entire banner campaign. It takes a fraction of the time it would to do it manually, and you can update each published banner in real-time. This means, if you want to, for each of these days you can use the same basic ads, but edit the theme to suit each day. Even better use dynamic banners with feeds, and users will see your latest offers, and products every minute of the shopping day.

What’s more with live ad analytics you can monitor different ad variants, refining your display campaigns as you go. Meaning any marketing team can work agilely and optimise ads during the day, embracing moment marketing and any external factors that could improve ad performance.

It’s not too late to get these campaigns running either. Just design some great ads, schedule them to be displayed on the right dates, and watch as your revenues soar on these supersized shopping days.


There you have it, your guide to the most important shopping dates advertisers need to know the countdown to the Christmas holidays.

For e-commerce brands strong display advertising campaigns that are well planned and have unique offers are the way to go. But remember, being able to update your offers and quickly change the focus of a campaign can help you to stand out from the crowd – so use the right tools.

For in-house teams, a creative management platform is one way you can stay ahead of the competition. A CMP offers total control, better performing ads, and makes producing your key shopping day display and social campaigns much easier.

Share this article

4 min read

How to market for Singles’ Day and beyond

Read article

Why Now Is the Time to Embrace Programmatic Creative

Read article

Father’s Day: 7 of the Greatest in the World

Read article
3 min read

Online advertising trends to watch: 2019

Read article
5 min read

Advertising Trends 2018: What you need to know

Read article
5 min read

Dynamic creative optimisation (DCO): what you need to know

Read article

7 Great Sports Marketing Campaigns

Read article

6 top e-commerce display advertising ideas

Read article