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Industry News, Publishers

Looking Back on Cyber Monday

by Katie Jansen on Dec 4, 2014

Earlier last month, we made the prediction that nearly one in three purchases made this Cyber Monday would be made from a mobile device. So now that the initial numbers from various sources are in, how’d we do with our prediction? In a word:

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

It turns out, there are some wildly varying takes on what happened this Cyber Monday. IBM’s Digital Analytics Benchmark reported that U.S. online sales grew an anemic 8% (well short of the 13-15% increase they initially predicted), but that mobile traffic surpassed desktop traffic over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend for the first time. Mobile devices accounted for 32.33% of sales, according to the IBM report. Yet Adobe’s 2014 Digital Index Online Shopping data for Cyber Monday report claimed that Cyber Monday sales were up 16% this year (compared to the 8% IBM is reporting) . However, Adobe said the share for mobile devices remained flat at 19% of sales in Adobe’s report. Adding to the confusion, ChannelAdvisor reported an overall 20.6% increase in online holiday sales, and mobile devices jumped 25% overall and 35% on Thanksgiving day.

Regardless of which report was more accurate, these numbers help infer mobile growth but don’t mean as much to us , because they are based off of mobile site traffic. Anyone with a smartphone knows that the best commerce experiences come from apps. So rather than look at site traffic, let’s look at the example of commerce giant Walmart, whose mobile app use grew at a pace that surpassed that of its website. According to a report in TechCrunch, mobile accounted for 70% of traffic over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, while its app usage was four times that of the previous year.

It may take a bit  longer for more numbers to come in (or perhaps some missing context), but we can agree that overall sales are brisk and mobile engagement is through the roof. This presents a big opportunity for publishers and the advice from our initial Cyber Monday post still stands:

Re-target Your Users:

Publishers should use platforms which can track purchases and intelligently predict relevant ads for each individual user. Relevancy provides a better experience for the user, with higher click-through rates and obviously the publisher’s bottom line. For example, if a user buys a sofa through a furniture app, then it behooves the publisher to serve an ad or a mobile optimized email for a matching ottoman.

Leverage In-App Marketing Tools:

Sending a push notification is an extremely powerful tool. However, there is a certain art to knowing how to use push notifications effectively while not exhausting the user. Integrate best practices for sending push notifications, there are several different sources with good tips to encourage re-engagement.

Attribute by Channel:

First and foremost, publisher should make sure they are using an ad platform with accurate attribution. Without dependable attribution, marketers aren’t able to accurately spend on what’s working, because they don’t know which channel is driving results.

We’ll also add a fourth tip to the list:
Deep Link to Make Purchasing Easy:

You’ve invested the time on driving awareness and engagement on mobile, now make sure you see it through and give your users an easy pathway to purchase. Make sure your ads, emails and notifications all deep link back to the product pages of your app.

Were one in three purchases made on mobile this Cyber Monday? We don’t really know yet, but more evidence is released daily that says this was the case. One thing is for certain: mobile commerce continues to grow and by focusing on best practices to promote commerce and make purchasing easier, you will be ahead of the curve and reap the benefits. Our tips are applicable for any time of the year, but by ensuring you adhere to them during this  holiday season, you will be able to take advantage of growth on mobile at a time when consumers are spending more.

Katie Jansen is AppLovin’s Chief Marketing Officer. In addition to her work, Katie is an advocate for women in tech and equality in the workplace.

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