Google has gifted retailers and advertisers with some fresh insights into customer behaviour on Black Friday. This time last year the search giant was busy collecting data on shoppers over one of the biggest in-store consumer events on the calendar – and there are a couple of key points worth noting.

Unfortunately, Google focused on US stores to collect this data – something you’ll want to bear in mind – but its findings reinforce a couple of misconceptions we suspect advertisers may have about Black Friday here in the UK too.


How Google compiled its data

Last year Google monitored search habits and foot traffic patterns in stores across the US on Black Friday. Unsurprisingly it found in-store mobile searches were up on the previous year – 11% higher in electronics stores and 8% higher in department stores.

What may surprise some advertisers is what this revealed about when customers are most likely to visit store on Black Friday and the wider holiday season.


Peak times on Black Friday might surprise you

There seems to be this notion that shoppers should camp outside stores on Black Friday “eve” to muscle in on deals at the earliest opportunity. And, while this is sometimes the case, Google finds store visits actually peak in the afternoon, between 2pm and 4pm.



*Source: AdWords blog


Now these times may not match Black Friday behavious in the UK and you’ll want to confirm peak times with your own data. But the general tip from Google is this:


Allocate enough budget across campaigns to support the increase in traffic as shoppers head to stores. During the afternoon, when store traffic is heaviest, consider increasing your mobile bids. Use the mobile bid adjustment simulator to size your overall mobile opportunity and adjust your bids accordingly.


What you certainly don’t want to do is assume peak times will be as soon as you open the doors and spend your entire budget before lunch time. You can’t afford to make assumptions when it comes to paid advertising so start collecting your own Black Friday data in a similar way to Google so you can reinforce your strategy over the coming years.


Black Friday isn’t a lifeline to every store

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have gained reputations as a lifeline to high-street stores. But Google data confirms what already knew: Black Friday isn’t a magic wand for all stores fighting for their spot in the digital age.

Electronics stores typically enjoy the best of these shopping bonanzas, because their products are perfectly suited. Not every store can say the same, but Google wants stores to know it’s not all about Black Friday during the holiday season:


However, there are many stores that don’t see their biggest crowds on Black Friday. Shopping malls, superstores & discount stores, and department stores have the highest store traffic on the Saturday before Christmas, while dollar stores have the most foot traffic on Christmas Eve — perhaps due to last minute stocking stuffers.




If the holidays are vital to your business then Google wants to turn your attention to location extension targeting to entice local shoppers and local inventory ads, which tell people nearby you have a specific item in stock.

So, as with all marketing trends, the message this holiday season is to resist the hype and focus on the details that matter to your business most. You may not be able to replicate the success stories you hear about Black Friday and Cyber Monday in your store, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find your own winning formula for the holidays.