Mindful that the top two holiday shopping days of the year are creeping ever closer, Bing Ads has produced a study to help online marketers identify prime time for their holiday campaigns.

It came as no surprise that Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) and Cyber Monday (the Monday following Thanksgiving weekend) rank 1-2 on the list of holiday shopping days. However, even with the notoriety that Black Friday generates, Cyber Monday has in fact overtaken Black Friday as the top shopping day of the year by total spending.

In analyzing the Bing Ads study, blogger John Gagnon wrote in a Sept. 30 online post at Search Engine Watch that e-marketers should take heed of Cyber Monday’s status as they prepare holiday shopping campaigns.

More importantly, Gagnon wrote, half of the top 10 shopping days of the year occur in the 7-day period centered by Thanksgiving Day.

“Retail advertisers already know how vital the holiday season is,” wrote Gagnon. “With this additional insight, tweak and perfect your ad timing, promotions, and budgeting to get the most from these top shopping days of the year.”

According to Gagnon, Bing Ads not only broke down the top shopping days by day — identifying the top 10 shopping days of the holiday season — but discovered when most shopping searches were done on those days, down to the hour. Gagnon wrote that the information is a goldmine for targeting online campaigns.

Coinciding with ever-earlier mall and store retail hours on Black Friday (many stores now open by 10 p.m. Thanksgiving Day for Black Friday “early-birds”), Bing Ads data showed that online searches start to increase by 1 a.m. on Black Friday, and peak by 5 a.m., according to Gagnon. This data also coincides with IBM’s 2013 Holiday Benchmark report that showed Black Friday shopping peaking at 6 a.m., one hour after peak searching. Although searches top out at 5 a.m., the data shows searching on all devices remains robust until about 4 p.m.

“Fifty-five percent of holiday shoppers check availability of an item using their mobile before going to a store,” he wrote, noting that it was the perfect time for marketers to “mobilize [their]PPC ads to reach these shoppers, with Black Friday promotions, store hours and directions.

Cyber Monday may be a back-to-work day for most, but the searching and shopping activity does not stop. For many shoppers, Internet access at work enables a continuation of the holiday weekend’s shopping spree. Bing Ads found that search activity is strong by 3 a.m., and remains strong throughout the day, maxing out at 3 p.m. before a marked drop-off toward the end of the work day.

Additionally, according to Gagnon, IBM data shows a spike in Internet sales activity by last-minute shoppers shortly before midnight EST, another prime opportunity for marketers to reach customers with specials and information.

Given that $608.1 million was spent in the two-month holiday shopping season in 2013, it is a make-or-break time of year for many retailers.

“To prepare for the holiday rush, there is a lot for search marketers to get right,” wrote Gagnon.


Gagnon, John. 24-Hour Breakdown of Searches on Black Friday and Cyber Monday; Search Engine Watch. September 30, 2014.