Can brands succeed on Black Friday without a Retail Media Network strategy?

Over the last decade or more, Black Friday has evolved from a claustrophobic in-store shopping experience in the US – with skirmishes over widescreen TVs beamed around the world by news outlets – to a global eCommerce shopping phenomenon.

In an ever more connected world, holiday crossovers between countries and cultures are increasingly common. Helped along by high-speed internet and mobile technology, Black Friday is now a recognized shopping holiday in countries as geographically disparate as Germany, Brazil, the UK, Poland, and India. And the trend of holiday adoption across borders looks set to continue as Singles’ Day makes inroads into the US market.

Many retailers now feel comfortable keeping their doors closed on Thanksgiving, safe in the knowledge that millions of people will be scouring their phones and tablets for deals.

Gone are the days when people rushed out to stores in their droves – retailers and brands can give their staff the day off and still capture enormous revenue online, provided they take the right steps to promote their products.

Retail Media Networks (RMNs) offer up enormous potential in terms of conversion if brands get their strategy right. Here are five of the most important considerations for 2022:

1. Brands need to spread love across RMNs

For many years, Amazon effectively owned the shopping weekend from Black Friday through to Cyber Monday, but that’s no longer the case in 2022.

There are huge lifts that occur on almost every retail platform, even just from the buzz that Amazon is generating, and this often means that while so many brands are focusing on Amazon, there are opportunities on Macy’s, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and a long list of other retailers.

Brands can avoid the frenzy on Amazon and find better value elsewhere because rather than simply hitting F5 on Amazon, consumers are now cross-shopping throughout the Internet looking for the best deals.

Black Friday is typically the day with the least retailer loyalty, because everyone just wants to save as much money as possible. This trend will be more pronounced than ever in 2022 with inflation at such a high level; as economic conditions worsen brand loyalty can often be eroded.

For brands, if their products are on retailers beyond Amazon, they really should be focusing energy on where they can stand out, knowing that the consumer is still going to find them there.

2. Remember to use affiliates

In pursuit of the perfect deal, consumers will forgo the comforts of their favorite retailer on Black Friday and take the time to enter their credit card information and create accounts with entirely new retailers, many of which they will never go back to.

This is a fantastic opportunity for brands to utilize affiliates, because a lot of consumers will be logging on to websites like slickdeals, receiving newsletters, visiting their favorite blogger, or watching recommendations from influencers on YouTube and Instagram.

Affiliates and influencers can help brands to get ahead of the noise. Amazon’s ad inventory is going to be thoroughly maxed out, but through affiliates, brands can be seen and heard across a variety of different channels.

Brands offering a discount on a product that is a significant amount lower than it’s ever been before will stand out to savvy consumers that know how to look at Camel, Camel, Camel and evaluate price points.

On Black Friday, affiliates become the influencer of the day, and can supply a very efficient, value-driven way to make sure that consumers know about a discounted product and to move extra inventory on the day.

3. Don’t waste time with products that aren’t on sale

Consumers are deal hunting on Black Friday, so conversions will likely be poor for media that’s driving to non-discounted products.

There are exceptions – people will still buy a Nintendo Switch alongside auxiliary products that are on sale with it, but for brands with a new product they’re unwilling to discount, media should be turned off or drastically reduced on Black Friday.

The keywords they would usually bid on are likely to be vastly more expensive for a meager return. Instead, brands should ensure that their media is driving to products with the largest discounts, the products they’re trying to move through. For brands with new products, even a 5% could go a long way to encouraging conversions and checkouts.

Media can be switched on again on the Tuesday after Black Friday, but for the five days between Thursday and Cyber Monday, brands must make sure they aren’t wasting their money pushing products consumers won’t buy.

4. Make the most of Sponsored Display

Sponsored Display is a CPC-based unit that puts display-image ads around the Internet. At Amazon unBoxed, Amazon put a lot of emphasis on it as a medium, but in many ways it’s the forgotten product of Amazon advertising. A lot of brands don’t really understand it, and as a result, they don’t consider it a possibility.

While the rates are skyrocketing on all the other Amazon placements, Sponsored Display offers brands an awareness play with an incredibly wide reach (the ads can even appear on Twitch) and is unlikely to increase in rate as much as other tactics.

This means it’s likely to be good value and something that brands should consider investing in more heavily. Knowing the emphasis Amazon is putting on Sponsored Display, this is probably going to be the last Black Friday it will work as a value placement.

5. Raise AOV (Average Order Value) with value bundles

One of the best pieces of advice for brands on Black Friday is to offer virtual bundles. In-store, Black Friday is driven by beautiful bundles that were planned up to 18 months in advance, featuring special packaging.

Creating a virtual bundle is easy to do and can greatly improve AOV. Brands should identify products with relevant adjacencies, bundle them together and create one product detail page (PDP) for them.

Whilst they may not have beautiful packaging, consumers can buy two or more items with one click, receive a discount and feel they’ve found a bargain. For brands with products they are unwilling to discount, creating a bundle can offer discounts on an auxiliary product and shoppers can come away with the same sense of finding value.

This is a quick win for brands that bundle smartly. In brick-and-mortar shops, creating bundles takes months of planning, but online this can be achieved within a week.

Something to consider for brands is buyer’s remorse. Black Friday can become a buying frenzy for shoppers seeking great deals, but in private many of us might admit to regretting an impulse purchase. To avoid negative feelings being associated with brands, bundles must be razor sharp.

What does the future hold for Retail Media Networks?

RMNs have been an incredibly hot topic of conversation in 2022, and this is only likely to gather momentum in 2023 as retailers improve their offerings and brands begin to tap into the latent potential of a long tail of networks.

Now more than ever, RMNs are offering brands sophisticated tools to measure the success of their media spend and optimize campaigns.

At Reprise Commerce, we’ve spent time building relationships and expertise with Amazon and many other RMNs to ensure we can provide our clients with a media portfolio that reaches their HVAs (high value audiences) at the right place, and the right time to ensure they convert.

We can help with understanding, budgeting, and planning for RMNs, as well as developing your presence with the right content and launch strategy.

If you’d like to speak to one of our experts, please get in touch

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