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Black Friday Digital Marketing Winners, Stats, and Figures

For marketers, it’s more fun to sit back and watch how brands promote their Black Friday sales than to participate in the madness. Think about it. Would you rather get caught in a literal stampede while rushing to get your hands on a new TV? Or would you rather observe the inner workings of the retail holiday from the safety of your couch? I’ll certainly always opt for the latter.

Different brands take different approaches to Black Friday promotional messaging. That’s what makes each year a unique exercise in marketing strategy and execution. While we still see perennial players like Walmart and Best Buy do their fair share of advertising, new brands seem to enter the fray on a yearly basis.

Since Black Friday is still considered a brick-and-mortar event, are brands still banking on shoppers entering their physical locations as opposed to shopping online? Do brands value Black Friday more than Cyber Monday from a digital shopping perspective? These are all questions that marketers can answer as we gain a little more insight into our favorite shopping holiday.

Below are some takeaways from this year’s retail version of the Super Bowl:

Google and Facebook Took the Largest Chunk of Digital Dollars

As expected, this year saw a repeat in terms of where retailers placed their digital ads. Google saw the lion’s share of advertising dollars with 35% of all money spent entering their coffers. Facebook was second in line as they collected a respectable 18% of digital ad dollars. Amazon was a notable third place winner with 15%.

While there is no big surprise here, Amazon is gaining momentum in terms of where advertisers divvy up their dollars on Black Friday.

Black Friday is Valued More than Cyber Monday

While you might think the Black Friday frenzy extends well into the weekend and culminates with sales on the following “Cyber Monday,” the data shows most media dollars were spent on or before Black Friday itself. In fact, Black Friday represents the highest digital ad spend in a single day all year. Only 20% of brands indicated they would be spending more on digital ads during Cyber Monday in 2018.

This shows that both physical and online sales are heavily promoted on Black Friday, versus waiting for Cyber Monday to promote exclusive online sales.

People are Shopping More than Ever

While some might think that Black Friday is overhyped and overdone, the truth is Americans spent more than ever in 2018. Consumers were expected to drop $90.1 billion on Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2018, which outpaces the 2017 figure of $60 billion. This figure takes into account both brick-and-mortar sales and online shopping. While the figures are still trickling in, we can confidently say Black Friday shows no signs of slowing down.

While you may think it’s crazy to brave the cold and wait in line at 3 a.m. at your local Target, someone out there is sure doing it.

Some Brands Continue to Opt-Out of Black Friday as a PR Play

An interesting turn of events over the last few years has seen some brands opt-out of the Black Friday frenzy completely. REI pioneered an #OptOutside campaign that denounces the culture of Black Friday shopping and encourages consumers to spend time outdoors instead. The campaign is punctuated by users sharing their personal #OptOutside” moments on social media.

Whatever your opinion on the matter, you have to hand it to REI for taking advantage of a PR opportunity when they see one. They gain substantial visibility with this campaign by bucking the trend of mass consumption on Black Friday.

Websites are Generating Residual Clicks Through Black Friday Culture

One of the biggest perceived winners, other than your advertising mediums like Google and Facebook, are the countless websites that are dedicated to showing consumers all the best deals they can expect. Black Friday sales guides are compiled by third-party websites and read from top to bottom, generating ad revenue for authors all over the world.

This is a great example of a type of secondary market that has benefited from the madness that is the Black Friday shopping event.


Love it or hate it, Black Friday continues to dominate retail during the holidays. We can’t wait for next year to see which brands spend the most and which advertising channels win big in terms of market share!

CLM | Nov 30, 2018