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Dec 11|Backbone Media

Cyber Week E-commerce in Review

This report on Cyber Week e-commerce trends is part of a series of updates that provide data-driven insights and experience-based anecdotes that will hopefully help marketers and brands weather the COVID-19 storm. If you have feedback or questions, please send us a note at

Cyber Week, the pinnacle sales week for most outdoor industry brands, carried extra weight this year, with many marketing teams facing the challenges of making up for lost retail sales, slower spring months or COVID-19 inventory limitations. The consumer environment was also greatly altered: the days of crowded shopping malls are a thing of the past, holiday travel is down, gatherings are smaller, and more time is being spent at home. All things considered, Backbone brands remained well positioned, offering products that enable time enjoyed outside in changing temperatures.

Retail versus E-commerce

Retail industry results from the weekend point to a mixed bag, with pockets of record-breaking growth in e-commerce despite major challenges to the brick-and-mortar environment.

Adobe Analytics reported a 21% increase in online spending for Black Friday, whereas RetailNext reported Black Friday foot traffic down by 48% from last year. Across Backbone e-commerce clients for the Cyber Week period (Tuesday-Monday), we saw average revenue growth of 34.5% and session growth of 17.5% compared to 2019. This average certainly encapsulates a wide range, as Backbone brands employed very different promotional strategies (ranging from gift with purchase, to site-wide discounts, to no discount at all). Another factor to consider is potential saturation of demand for outdoor products; with the COVID-19 challenges this spring/summer, many brands have spent more time with products on sale this year than they might have in a normal year. On the other hand, other brands did no discounting at all and still saw record sales for the week.

Cyber Week E-commerce_Google Analytics_YoY Sessions_2019 v 2020 Promotion Week_Black Friday Cyber Monday Cyber Week E-commerce_Google Analytics_YoY Revenue_2019 v 2020 Promotion Week_Black Friday Cyber Monday

2020 Promotion Period

Looking day by day, the first trend worth highlighting is that the promotion period started very early this year, with 66% of Backbone e-commerce clients launching an online promotion prior to the traditional Black Friday start date. The resulting outcome was that spikes in revenue were not as concentrated on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, rather they were spread more evenly across the week. In fact, the biggest single-day revenue growth came on Thanksgiving Day, with Backbone clients up an average of 97% over last year, followed by Tuesday (pre-Thanksgiving), where Backbone clients were up 93%. Black Friday reigned supreme from a total revenue standpoint, with many clients experiencing record-setting sales on the traditional in-store shopping holiday. This was fairly expected — without the crowded rush to shop in person, shopping online and shopping early in the week was more appealing. While Cyber Monday was another strong day in total sales, only 7% growth was seen on average compared to 2019.

Cyber Week E-commerce Trends

While most of 2020 saw decreased advertiser spending and subsequently lower CPMs compared to 2019, this trend shifted dramatically starting in September for Google and mid-November for Facebook/Instagram. We typically expect to see a massive increase in CPMs going into the shopping season, however, each day of Cyber Week recorded higher CPMs than 2019 on both platforms. Luckily, much of the heavy lifting in terms of prospecting for clients was done earlier in the fall to grow remarketing pools. That said, the late-November CPM growth certainly had an impact on campaigns across the board.

Cyber Week E-commerce_Paid Social CPM_Black Friday Cyber Monday Cyber Week E-commerce_Google Ads CPM_Black Friday Cyber Monday

Creative Trends

Creative activations for Cyber Week varied greatly by client, but a few key trends came to the forefront for 2020. For one, sales lasted significantly longer, with some continuing through the whole week. This was highlighted by our client average of 9.4 days on sale, much longer than the traditional four-day period. Secondly, we saw many clients run with creative focused on “Shop your Values” themes, with specific activations for Small Business Saturday, Women-Led Wednesday and Giving Tuesday. According to Adobe Analytics, “44 percent of consumers planned to support small and local retailers this holiday season, with 38 percent saying they would make a deliberate effort to shop at smaller retailers throughout the holiday season.” Finally, we found more urgency was baked into creative messaging given the uncertainty around shipping cutoffs. Many brands made it very clear: this was your best time to shop to get your gift in time for the holidays.

Looking Forward

2020 has brought unprecedented times and, all things considered, these Cyber Week results give us strong expectations for e-commerce and the outdoor industry in 2021. Moving into the final weeks of December, our focus is on heavily weighting spends before shipping cutoffs and then shifting to gift-card and in-store promotion to finish the year strong. A new year is on the horizon!

Melissa Haupt

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