Black Friday and the power of content

October 21, 2016

The 27th of November 2015 lays claim to be the biggest day for online retail ever in the UK1. An impressive statistic, especially given that Black Friday was virtually unknown in UK 3 years ago. Adopting similar tactics to those in the US, brands are now competing on prices, discounts and exposure to gain precious market share during the cyber fortnight.
Of course, incentive sites are a key component of any brands strategy over the period, but how does content fit into the spectrum? As an agency, identifying the value that content partners and initiatives provide our clients is an important task, especially within the last-click model which has dominated the affiliate landscape for so many years. There is a huge opportunity to influence how affiliate marketing’s commercial model should evolve by using customer engagement insights. R.O.EYE have developed a proprietary system for identifying where content sites fit within the customer journey, which answers some questions as to where to apply budgets at the “top of the funnel”.

To gain a wider perspective on the topic I have posed a couple of questions to the content monetisation platform Skimlinks, who have a plethora of content partners referring traffic on their platform.

SD: How have you seen Black Friday evolve for content partners over time?

Skimlinks: In one word, dramatically. Two or three years ago content publishers were not developing content strategies around commerce and now almost all of the top digital publishers employ dedicated commerce editorial teams. As such, important seasonal commerce events have become quite significant for these publications and the planning for Black Friday takes place over weeks and months ahead of the actual day.

SD: How do you see content sites fitting into the shopping landscape during the upcoming Cyber Fortnight?

Skimlinks: Content sites have traditionally best served users at the start of their purchase journey and it’s a role they continue to play well in the ecosystem — over 80% of people research before making a purchase and people do more research than ever in the holidays. However, many content publishers are now also incorporating deals and offers into their content approach as they are now moving down the funnel to capture a larger share of the overall market during the busy fortnight.

SD: What are your thoughts on the last click model? Are there any alternative models you would like to see used to reward content partners?

Skimlinks: We believe that the last click model is an accurate depiction of the world when you want to convert people that are very low down the purchase funnel (for instance people searching for a specific product on Google), but that’s not what content marketing is about. Content marketing is about helping people discover the best product and brands to buy. It takes time and the decision is likely to build over multiples pieces of content, so last click only capture a tiny fraction of the value. We see great value in showcasing to our Merchants the publications that have influenced people as
they were still pondering their purchase. While there is controversy in the industry on a post click
and post impression model, both make sense but measure different aspects of your marketing endeavour and therefore both derive invaluable insights for Publishers and Merchants.

As Skimlinks so aptly stated, the last click model does only capture a fraction of the value that content partners provide on an affiliate network, and as a result, this raises many more questions about how brands should be tracking engagements further “up the funnel”. Learning from Black Friday in 2015, this should be the year to input a little creativity into promotional strategies by investing in content, after all consumers spent over £3.3bn over the cyber weekend last year, and we would be foolish to not utilise this in 2016.