On August 25, the UK observed a bank holiday. We take a look at the numbers behind some of the more active online retailers to learn more about their strategies and marketing priorities.
A variety of data measures, like Price Per Click (PPC) and Share Of Voice (SOV), show that the online advertising market for the August bank holiday was essentially a friendly tussle between Amazon and a few other sellers.
There was moderate activity, with a few changes between top-spender and the company with the most customer impact, but, overall, the big players didn’t pull anything out of their hat – apart from earlier in the month when one of the most hyped smartphones of 2014 (apart from the iPhone 6) went on sale.
The charts below explore retailers’ marketing priorities in regards to the keyword ‘sales’.
What Happened on August 7?
Although this article examines how PPC, SOV and CPC changed over the bank holiday and whether any of the main online retailers took advantage of the long weekend, taking into account the month’s changes for ‘sale’ related keywords, the most interesting activity happened on August 7.
On this date, which was the on-sale day of the long-awaited Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini in the UK, Amazon’s SOV spiked massively, which falls in line with its advertiser frequency (see graph above) and Debenhams completely dropped out of the market.
Debenhams doesn’t offer the Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini and in fact, its technology department is not particularly well-known at all, so it’s no surprise it was overshadowed by a company well-known for its electronics deals.
During the rest of the month, Debenhams’ sales show a rather constant draw of customers most of the time, likely because of the style of the business.
A tentative hypothesis for retailers is that tech is top on product release dates, but staples such as clothing, bed linens etc. will fill in the gaps between.
Bank Holiday Weekends Don’t Mean a Rise in Spend
Retailers Amazon and Debenhams have put themselves in position to pull in customers searching for sales. It may be difficult to see a correlation between the August 25 bank holiday and these retailers’ efforts to remain in the lead here, but it’s clear that, at least for the week prior, Debenhams dominated the frequency of its ads’ appearance for the ‘sale’ keyword.
The department store’s business benefits from enticing customers to a ‘sale’, which, as Nick Bubbs points out in Retail Week, may never end. Customers looking for a price break on expensive products such as designer clothes may be encouraged to pull out their charge cards if they see a sale. As such, catching ‘sale’ keyword searches would be very advantageous.
In the days leading up to the holiday, Amazon climbs, while Debenhams oscillates, though within stable limits. [tweetable alt=”#BankHoliday @amazon had the greatest #adfrequency by about 1-2%, but @Debenhams #ads were more successful.” hashtag=””]Surprisingly, Amazon manages to win the greatest ad frequency on the day itself, but only by a hair’s breadth of about 1-2%.[/tweetable]
Share Of Voice (SOV) is a more complex measure than ad frequency, accounting for the number of people who click or share the advertisements.
You can see that the SOV graph above looks like an exaggerated version of the previous one, suggesting that people responded to Debenhams’ and Amazon’s advertising pushes as they happened, but may or may not have converted.
Cost Per Click: Moderation
There weren’t many earthquakes on the 25th, not even any aftershocks. There was a fair degree of balance between the major players, with minor adjustments on the surrounding days.
Here, John Lewis department stores seemed to take notice of the holiday, increasing spending the most on the 25th and in the preceding days – a trend that can also be seen in advertisement frequency.
Despite this effort, John Lewis’ SOV actually fell during these days and, on the bank holiday, it was behind Debenhams, Amazon, ASOS and Marks and Spencer. It appears that the department store knew the holiday represented an important moment for it, but couldn’t quite win the fight against the titans.
The big players here, our friend Amazon, alongside All Saints and Net-a-Porter, all spent hard and carried on, pretty stably, around the period. Interestingly, only Amazon had much to show for it in terms of SOV, but then they usually seem to.
Do Retailers Care About Bank Holidays?
The clear winner over this period was Amazon, [tweetable alt=”@amazon experienced a bigger #ad spike for #GalaxyS5 launch than for #BankHoliday #shopping” hashtag=””]which had a massive spike on August 7 to coincide with the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini launch.[/tweetable]
However, can we determine from these charts whether or not retailers care about the bank holiday? Well, two spent around the same on this holiday as on the day before, four spent less, four spent more. There were no uncanny spikes or plummets, suggesting that August 25 was a day of only slightly greater significance than normal.
Debenhams seems to be the clear victor of the day, coming fourth place in spending, while topping the share of voice. And who could argue that the dull holiday may not be best spent browsing for a new autumn coat?
By consistently offering better prices than most on all products, Amazon has made itself the largest online retailer in the world. Still, classically-structured department stores like Debenhams have found a niche for the sale-event-conscious online shopper.
As a retail advertiser, you can spend all you like (like Amazon did) but still come second place to Debenhams, which suggests that Debenhams is targeted to its audience better for lazy holidays.
(Main image credit: Carl Malamud/Flickr)