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Dec 07|Backbone Media

2021 Cyber Week E-Commerce in Review

Another Cyber Week has come and gone, closing out a critical sales moment for many outdoor and active lifestyle brands. As the dust settles, Backbone Media has done a deep dive review of Cyber Week e-commerce for 2021. Despite the headwinds of another bizarre and unprecedented year, overall e-commerce performance for Backbone clients concluded with very positive takeaways. That said, the world is still recovering from the impacts of COVID-19 and the advertising landscape is changing quickly, bringing to light some key trends from the shopping holiday.

  1. For Backbone brands, Black Friday broke the records, grossing the highest e-commerce sales and session index of any Cyber Week day, up an average of 18% to 2020. Interestingly, this is different trend than what was seen in the e-commerce sector overall. According to Adobe Analytics, Cyber Monday remained the biggest shopping Holiday of the year, although it was down 1.4% YoY (Adobe Analytics).
    graphs legend
    session indexsession index
    revenue indexrevenue index
  2. 84% of Backbone e-commerce clients were on sale, with the average percentage discount landing at 33% off. A few brands did make the decision to hold full price and instead highlight a gift with purchase promotion, limited edition product, or exciting new product collaboration.
  3. Facebook and Instagram CPM’s sky-rocketed in comparison to past years. This is primarily due to the impacts of iOS14.5, increased advertiser spending and stagnating user demand (FB Earnings Presentation). Despite this challenge, average cost per purchase (CPP) was lower than 2020, showing us that while prices were high, spends were generally justified in reaching customers with a strong willingness to purchase from ads.
    FB CPM and CPP
  4. Google placements remained efficient and did not see the same pricing increases as Facebook and Instagram. Display and Video CPMs were lower than 2020, and Search and Shopping CPCs were about the same YoY. Many clients also found success on challenger platforms (i.e., Pinterest, YouTube, Snapchat) in driving both traffic and sales over the holiday.

    Google CPM and CPC

  5. The average length of sale for Backbone clients was 11 days, up from an average of nine days last year. This is a continuation of a trend we saw in 2020, with sales starting earlier to spread out demand and avoid inventory bottlenecks. Many shoppers have also been keenly aware of supply chain challenges, and it remains to be seen if peak holiday shopping has moved forward again this year in an effort to avoid delivery challenges.
  6. Brick and mortar is back, though foot traffic was not high enough to reach pre-COVID levels. Findings from Sensormatic Solutions indicated that “shopper visits resulted in a -28.3% decline in traffic on Black Friday, November 26, compared to 2019, the last pre-pandemic year, but a 47.5% increase compared to 2020.” While Backbone e-commerce clients saw strong growth online, it was not nearly as dramatic as last year. This is likely due to the rejuvenation of retail channels and changing demand for outdoor industry products as Americans return to concerts, live sports, holiday parties and more.

While Backbone’s review of Cyber Week e-commerce showed some great results, the holiday shopping season has a few critical weeks left to go. Shipping deadlines are approaching faster than ever, and messaging from Backbone clients will start to shift towards highlighting transport windows, promoting gift cards, and encouraging in-store shopping. Many of the trends above will likely carry into these weeks, and we are recommending all clients review performance and make any necessary optimizations going into the holiday.

We wish all a happy and healthy holiday season!

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

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