Stephanie Higgins

Stephanie Higgins

Senior Account Manager

World Cup and Black Friday: Navigating High Levels of Expected Competition in Q4

9 November 2022

This year Qatar was selected to host the 2022 World Cup. Because of their intense Summer heat, this World Cup will be held from 21st November to 18th December – making it the first time this event has been held outside of May, June, or July. The new time of year for this event brings additional challenges for advertisers: advertising alongside what are already landmark events in the marketing calendar – including Black Friday weekend, Cyber Monday, and the ramp-up to Christmas. 

Black Friday has always been a notorious period in marketing, requiring increased forethought when gathering a media plan. This has, in recent times, expanded out to a whole weekend event when including Cyber Monday.

For weeks before Black Friday, customers start holding off on new purchases, eager to see what a company will offer them over the weekend. And when it arrives, customers flock to the internet to browse the offers in the market. 

Although Black Friday is exceptionally competitive in eCommerce, its impact can be felt throughout the entire digital advertising landscape. Generally, higher competition with more – and more aggressive – advertisers on all advertising channels over the weekend results in higher advertising costs for everyone. In today’s digital advertising world, where we’re encouraged to go broad with targeting and rely on algorithmic optimizations to find the best users, overlap in targeting across brands and verticals is especially significant. An event like Black Friday has impact on any advertiser hoping to buy ads over that period.

Draw insights from previous years

Last year we saw Black Friday weekend CPMs rise anywhere up to 90%, on the comparative figure for the whole of Q4. For a vast number of verticals, there is no weekend like it, year-round, where we see the same percentage increase in CPMs.

The additional challenge comes as potential users enter the market with higher expectations – on Black Friday, more than ever, consumers sit in the driver’s seat, considering the best of several offers and discounts and converting only through the one with the best offering. A brand that can’t or won’t provide such an incentive will likely see click-through and conversion rates plummet.

The result is that Black Friday is now almost unbound by vertical. With such high demand, it’s an opportunity that seems too good for an advertiser to miss (and probably is), but if not approached with an appropriate strategy could cost you dearly in efficiency metrics like CPA and ROAS – or even brand image – a result of devaluation from over-discounting. 

During the UEFA Euros 2020, we saw CPMs increase, up an average of 3% to 8%. Sport-related companies CPMs raised further, around 17% for the period of 11th June – 11th July, and another 3% on top of this on the day of the final between England and Italy at Wembley.

How to plan for Black Friday and the World Cup?

This year Black Friday weekend falls from 25th through to the 28th of November, coinciding with the World Cup, with four games running per day over this period. The rest of this article discusses how an advertiser can effectively navigate the tricky Q4 period, which this year feels like a minefield of competition-increasing events.

  • Budget planning. Consider phasing to ramp up and down for defined periods of the next few months in response to supply and demand. Fluid budget planning could aid more agile responses – move from monthly to quarterly targets and budgets. Black Friday does require a certain spending commitment should you wish to succeed in remaining competitive.
  • Your offer. Fore-plan your offerings and discounts and produce creative to match. Even if you can’t afford a particularly competitive bid, we can often frame positively through creative and copy so that it can still be used to motivate action. Play on exclusivity, “the power of free”, and “scarcity bias”.
  • Broader audiences will go some way to offset rising CPMs (but not all the way); the payback here, however, can be a lower conversion rate – work to find the sweet spot between the two to drive your goals.
  • Consider your goal. Black Friday and Cyber Monday might be revenue-driving periods for you. Still, perhaps the post-Christmas, pre-new year period is better suited to driving awareness in preparation for the following January sales. Dynamic and intelligent adjustment of your goals over the quarter will allow you to maximize the unique opportunity that presents itself. Consider the best KPI for each chosen goal and activity, be that AOV (Average Order Value), ROI (Return on Investment), CPA (Cost per Action), or Cost per Engagement, etc.
  • Pre-booking traffic before costs explode. If your goal is awareness, consider pre-booking your Reach & Frequency Traffic well in advance through Meta to secure a known, comfortable CPM in advance – now is the perfect time to do so ready for the remainder of Q4.
  • Consider additional channels. Meta and Google can sometimes become overcrowded marketplaces during these highly competitive periods. This is fine if you have the budget to compete, but could you find the same users in a different, cheaper environment? Channels like Snapchat, Twitter, Reddit, TikTok, and Pinterest might be better options. Or perhaps the best choice would be a combination of both – it does depend on your business plan and goals. Although these channels will undoubtedly experience rising costs, they will likely not be similar.

It’s challenging to predict exactly how the marketing landscape will change from November to December, as this is a historical first, but what we can do is prepare our campaigns accordingly. Get in touch with our Making Science experts to learn more about how you can be best prepared for the upcoming season.

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