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Flash Report: Black Friday and Cyber Monday Affiliate Trends
Sponsored content from our partner Awin

December 1, 2022

Editor’s Note: This year, Awin is releasing its latest data and insights on the 2022 North American Cyber Weekend directly to Martech Record and its readers. The data in this article aggregates results across the Awin and ShareASale platforms and contributes to the collective understanding of the key trends in the affiliate industry.

Historically, each holiday season has brought significant changes in consumer buying behavior. 2022 is no exception. As the effects of COVID and supply chain disruptions fade, high inflation and other economic challenges are on consumers’ minds as they drive or tap their ways to offline and online stores.

Top Takeaways

 

  • Across all categories, total affiliate sales for Cyber Weekend 2022 held fairly steady versus 2021

  • Across retail, clicks are up 47% on relatively flat sales, indicating that inflation-concerned customers are engaging in more research and comparison shopping before they transact

  • For the first time, affiliate sales on Black Friday were higher than for Cyber Monday, the latest signal of a long-term consumer trend toward shopping and buying earlier in the season

  • Travel sales are up 48% versus 2021, indicating that concerns about COVID have waned and consumers are returning to pre-COVID travel behaviors

Steady Overall Affiliate Sales Versus 2021

Across the vast North American footprint of the Awin and ShareASale platforms, transactions, revenue, and AOV were relatively stable versus a year ago.

 

                                             Total Cyber Weekend

                                         Percent Change Versus 2021

Transactions                                   - 1%

Advertiser Revenue                        + 3%

AOV                                                + 3%

 

Click Activity Balloons 

Though year-over-year total transactions and sales changed little, the click count rose a staggering 96%. The average transaction required about 20 clicks this year versus 11 in 2021. All that clicking indicates an increase in online research and comparison shopping before customers are willing to hit the buy button. We saw a similar pattern in the 2009 economic downturn as customers invested more time ensuring they got the best value before they made their purchases.

                                                 Total Cyber Weekend

                                         2021      2022     Percent Change

Clicks Per Transaction     10.33      20.25          96%

Publisher Commissions and Discounting Spike

Publishers saw large increases in commissions despite the relatively flat retail market. Commissions grew more than four times faster than advertiser revenue in 2022, indicating that retailers are promoting aggressively to capture customer purchases.

                                                Total Cyber Weekend

                                           Percent  Change Versus 2021

Advertiser Revenue                          + 3%

Publisher Commissions                    +14%

Black Friday Eclipses Cyber Monday for Affiliate

Historically, Black Friday was a brick-and-mortar event in which millions stood outside big box stores before dawn, waiting to get their hands on “doorbusters.” That’s been changing over the years as retailers increasingly take an omnichannel merchandising approach.

This year, Black Friday transactions and revenue were greater for the first time than for Cyber Monday. Total transactions were 37% higher, while advertiser revenue was 46% greater for Black Friday. Versus 2021, Black Friday online transactions and sales were up 9% and 11%, respectively, while Cyber Monday transactions and sales were down 18% and 17%.

                                       Black Friday             Cyber Monday            Difference

Transactions                      413,000                   302,000                    +111,000

Advertiser Revenue             $52.0M                     $35.5M                     +$16.5M

Publisher Commissions         $5.0M                       $3.2M                       +$1.8M

A big part of the credit for this shift goes to earlier merchandising events from savvy retailers. For several years, retailers have been moving up their promotional activity. For example, Amazon held its Prime event October 11-12 in 2022, and many other merchants moved their key holiday sales promotions into October and early-to-mid November to capture customer purchases. This sales timing shift on Cyber Weekend is part of that trend toward earlier merchandising. For the holiday weekend, it’s clear that brands are not holding back their best offers until Cyber Monday anymore.

Travel Affiliate Transactions and Sales Explode

In retail, advertiser revenue was flat, while publisher commissions were up 14%, indicating high levels of dealing and discounting. Retail clicks were up 47% versus a year ago.

                                         Cyber Weekend by Partner Type

                                         Percentage Change Versus 2021

                                           Transactions          Revenue

Retail                                     - 2%                        + 0%

Travel                                    +42%                       +48%

Travel was the star performer sector for Cyber Weekend 2022. Total travel advertiser revenue was up 48% versus a year ago, and partner commissions were up 38%. The average order value was up 4%. Consumers appear to be returning to pre-COVID travel behaviors as fears of infection dissipate.

Cashback, Loyalty, and Sub Networks Win Big

Turning to the publisher classes that performed best across Cyber Weekend ‘22, cashback, loyalty site, and sub networks showed strong growth. Key drivers behind the strength of cashback and loyalty publishers include member growth and an advertiser focus on cost-effective “traditional” affiliate classes during an economic downturn. We expect that more customers this year began their shopping journeys on these sites in order to capture the best values. Improving merchandising tools and data-driven targeting are other possible contributors, as is increasing premium advertiser willingness to leverage these publishers.

For sub networks, a small decline in transaction counts was more than made up for in revenue growth. More content advertisers are offering gift guides and other merchandising for big-ticket items, which may have contributed here. 

Discount code sites underperformed versus a year ago. While discount code sites still showed the strongest share of total purchases, their transaction count was down 14% versus a year ago. We suspect that consumers got more codes and offers directly from advertisers this year, contributing to some of that decline.

                                         Cyber Weekend by Partner Type

                                         Percentage Change Versus 2021

                                          Transactions               Revenue

Loyalty                                  +28.1%                   + 43.5%

Cashback                              +27.1%                    + 30.7%

Sub Networks                        +21.7%                   +106.1%

Editorial Content                   + 2.8%                     + 11.4%

Social Content                      -  2.2%                     + 61.2%

Shopping Directory                + 2.0%                     + 21.7%

Discount Code                       -14.2%                     - 14.9%

Mobile Search                        -18.7%                     -   4.7%

 

Conclusions

 

Affiliate is playing an increasingly integral role in holiday shopping and merchandising. Trends and changes in our channel have an important impact on online commerce. Based on the data, it appears that smart affiliate marketing is helping to make consumers more willing to buy despite the economic challenges they face. 

 

It’s clear from the data that the historical conception of a holiday shopping season that begins after Thanksgiving is outdated. Merchants are moving their best promotions earlier and earlier in order to ensure they capture maximum sales. With many major merchants launching initiatives in early and mid-October, it’s important for every advertiser to adjust their own plans and programs. 

 

Given the strong increase in click activity, it is clear that advertisers need a broad presence across partner classes in order to “be there” when customers make their final click. Large changes in performance for different partner types underscore the need to have a diverse partner ecosystem in place to capture maximum performance. 

 

Now, more than ever, a robust partner strategy and smart merchandising combined with the right timing help brands drive maximum value from the channel. 

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Awin is a marketing technology platform, providing an open marketplace for businesses to manage any type of partnership. From traditional affiliates, mass media, influencers to B2B, advertisers selling products or services online can seamlessly leverage engaged consumer audiences to grow sales, expand customer reach and strengthen their brand. With over 400 merchants and 12,000 publishers joining our US network each month, Awin is the fastest growing platform in the US. Our data-led multi-touch attribution solution empowers ecommerce brands to drive incremental e-commerce growth and guaranteed results.

Join us on March 3 for our webinar - “Publisher Technology: The Next Big Step in Affiliate Innovation.” Sponsored by Awin, our panel of industry experts will discuss development resources and innovative technology tools needed as publishers demand more sophisticated tools to scale their businesses.

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