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Research Digest

What Video Types are Most Effective for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday CTV Ads?

Abstract

  • In 2021, 41% of shoppers said that their first introduction to a Black Friday deal was in a TV commercial. 
  • Black Friday shoppers spent $8.9 billion in 2021.
  • Between 2019-2020 Cyber Monday spending increased 24%.

Did you know that if it wasn’t for a football game between the Army and the Navy, the business world may never have thought of offering deep discount savings to shoppers on the day after Thanksgiving? Black Friday, as it’s so aptly called, came into fruition in the mid 1960s in Philadelphia where tourists in town for the Thursday holiday converged with football fans who were in town for the annual Army-Navy game that Saturday.

“What on earth may they want to do between Thursday and Saturday?” Philadelphia business owners likely asked themselves.

Hopefully visit one of the many shops that lined Philly’s famous Market Street. 

The five major retailers on Market Street saw throngs of eager shoppers on the Friday after Thanksgiving, so much so that local authorities began to call the day “Black Friday” (an allusion to Black Tuesday in 1929 when the stock market crashed) because, as mentioned by the NY Times, “…officers had to work long hours and deal with terrible traffic, bad weather and other crowd-related miseries.”

Originally, the main way these businesses enticed crowds on the first Black Fridays weren’t doorbuster savings, but something more traditional: the unveiling of the shop’s holiday window displays, likely fashioned after the globally renowned Christmas creations at Bergdorf Goodman in New York City. As Ad Age explained, “Consumers also turned out to see the department store windows, which were typically unveiled on Friday, which led to greater crowds. Later, in the 70s and 80s, Black Friday began its use as a promotional term to herald the sales of the holiday season.”

Black Friday has grown into a financial juggernaut. Last year alone, Black Friday shoppers spent $8.9 billion. And while 66.5 million Americans shopped in-person, 88 million made purchases online. In typical capitalist fashion, due to the immense popularity of Black Friday, brands and retailers have spread out this cost-cutting tradition into multiple days from Small Business Saturday to Cyber Monday.

But businesses aren’t using delightfully gaudy Christmas window decorations to bring in the crowds anymore: they have highly engaging CTV ads that can do all the heavy lifting getting folks in the door–whether that’s a physical entrance, or a digital one.

If you want to dive into the nuanced creative elements that push the needle in holiday advertising, check out our recent Video Vitals analysis, Analyzing the Season: What Makes the Perfect Holiday CTV Ad. You’ll discover what key attributes – like emotions, keywords, and topics – generate the greatest impact on ROAS during this busy shopping season.

If you’re not ready to jump into the minutiae of ad creative just yet, we’ve compiled the most effective video types you can use for CTV ad creative during the three major shopping holidays. Whether you’re a small (but mighty) business, or one of those big-box behemoths, these are the best video types to reach new and potential customers during Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday.

Black Friday

After years of holiday shopping, we’re very accustomed to seeing Black Friday ads in magazines and newspapers, as well as plastered on every corner of social media. However, with the growing prominence of Connected Television over the last several years, streaming entertainment has become a key channel for you to raise awareness and drive conversion during arguably the most important season for retailers.

For instance, in 2020, 40% of Black Friday ads were distributed on televisions. The following year in 2021, 41% of shoppers said that they’re first introduction to a Black Friday deal was in a TV commercial. 

While Black Friday ad spending and ad occurrences did dip in 2021 due to the fluctuations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study from Numerator, there was one media type that did grow: online video. Watching video content online, whether it’s through an internet connected television in your living room, or on a social media app on your phone, is now the primary way we want to consume content. With a tight focus around producing effective ads for CTV, you give yourself a much better chance of reaching your target audience in the format they prefer.

Capturing the attention of holiday shoppers begins with knowing who your audience is. Millennials are big online spenders on Black Friday, while their Baby Boomer counterparts still place a high premium on in-store shopping. Considering the audiences you want to reach–and where you want to drive them–can be the foundation for you to build an effective ad for CTV.


Ad Creative Video Type Perfect for Black Friday


Short-form ads 

Most commonly found on social media, this type of video packs your brand’s key benefits into quickly consumed content. The goal is to snag the attention of the average viewer whose attention span is getting shorter and shorter. While these videos are typically between 5 and 16 seconds long–not exactly the ideal length for CTV ads–it’s their punchy, eye-catching creative approach that you should co-opt for your campaigns on the biggest screens in the home.

This video type is perfect for Black Friday deals as short form ads leverage urgency through their brief runtime; an urgency that can immediately snag attention while also speaking to an authentic Black Friday experience: the feeling that you need to urgently buy everything on your shopping list in record time.

We all know the power of shorter videos as evidenced by the success of TikTok. But the creative approach of successful short-form ads found on social media are beginning to bleed into the world of CTV advertising as well. As mentioned in AdAge, “TikTok—now boasting over 1 billion monthly active users—has already started making inroads in the CTV space, with apps on Fire TV, Vizio, Google TV and Samsung. It appears it is looking to take its explosive growth in short-form entertainment onto living room screens.”

While short form video ads do fit neatly into the native environment of Connected TV, their power is still most pronounced via social media. According to Facebook’s VP of Ads and Business Platform, Mark Rabkin, “because people can watch virtually anything at any time, they’re only going to watch ads that grab their attention, reward their time, and are immediately relevant… People aren’t watching ads for as long as they used to, on any medium.” 

These quick ads are notorious for sucking viewers in by leaving them wanting more. In that way, short-form ads can lead to higher site traffic and higher conversion rates.


Creative Tip for Black Friday CTV Ads

Don’t shy away from the reality of what Black Friday shopping is like in person. It can feel like a chaotic mob as folks elbow their way through the crowds to snag that deeply discounted television.

Speaking to this experience will help consumers feel like you see their pains, and are responding with good humor. This layers in a level of authenticity in your CTV ads as you are speaking to the consumers past experiences, something other brands may be reticent in doing as it surfaces a seedier side of this popular shopping holiday. 

Small Business Saturday

We can thank American Express for Small Business Saturday. It began in 2010 when the credit card giant purchased ad inventory on Facebook and gifted it to the small businesses they worked with, as well as rebates to new customers. Recognizing the altruism in this young upstart holiday, the US Government officially recognized it the following year, kicking off the shopping tradition. 

This shopping holiday has grown exponentially since its formation. In 2021 alone, consumers spent $20 billion during Small Business Saturday. 58% of shoppers made purchases online in 2021, compared to 56% in 2020 and 43% in 2019. Based on a recent study, 78% of small, independent businesses reported that this period is “critical” and will help them stay in business in the future.

What Small Business Saturday inspires in consumers is a sense of charity and compassion. You are spending your money at businesses that actually need your support, and not at some faceless big-box giant. According to a study from American Express, 90% of consumers report that Small Business Saturday makes a positive impact. Data like this is important to keep in mind when crafting your CTV ad creative, as it can give you an idea of the direction you should take your messaging.


Ad Creative Video Type Perfect for Small Business Saturday


Testimonials

While testimonials are typically thought of as being from the customer perspective, for Small Business Saturday CTV ad creative you should consider creating a testimonial that tells audiences about your brand. What’s your business’ origin story? Who are the people that make it run? How do your products impact the community you serve? Using questions like these in a testimonial format can establish an authentic connection with your audience that your brand is invested in more than just your bottom line. 

You could even spin out a simple testimonial into a more robust mini-doc that can go more in depth into your business, allowing you to thread in value props for why a consumer should choose your business over the big box competitors. They’re immersive, inspiring, captivating and cinematic–especially on Connected TV screens. Mini-docs can positively show consumers how your brand fits into your target audience’s lives. That feeling of trustworthiness goes a long way during the holiday season when consumers are being heavily advertised to by a plethora of brands within your industry.


Creative Tip for Small Business Saturday

Aim for authenticity. This holiday is a response to the corporatization of Black Friday and Cyber Monday as well as blockbuster deals from events like “Amazon Prime Day.” If you want consumers to shift their consideration to your company, don’t be afraid to take corporations to task. You can grab attention by underlining how shopping locally can support family-run businesses and the communities they serve, rather than another impersonal corporate giant.

Cyber Monday

The term Cyber Monday first surfaced in 2005 by the National Retail Federation who were looking for a way to classify the deluge of ecommerce shopping that occurs in the days following Thanksgiving and Black Friday. In 2005, Cyber Monday generated $484 million. By 2021, according to AdWeek, “Shoppers spent $10.7 billion on Cyber Monday 2021, which is about $100 million shy of the record set in 2020.” That record setting year was the result of a 24% increase YoY in Cyber Monday spending.

Even though Cyber Monday may have dipped between 2020 and 2021, spending has more than doubled over the last five years. This shows that this shopping day will continue to dominate the holiday season for years to come. And your brand can continue to jockey for pole position in consumer’s minds by shifting your ad strategies from social and display to Connected Television.

The potential for increased engagement with your Cyber Monday ads are illustrated by a report from eMarketer. That study found that CTV has a video completion rate of 97% to desktop’s 70% completion rate. Clearly Cyber Monday is a day where millions of people perch at their computers to quickly snatch up all the savings. So your first thought may be, “I bet Cyber Monday video ads are more engaging on desktops, since that’s where consumers will be doing their shopping.” But as evident by the above eMarketer report, that couldn’t be further from the truth. If you want to capture attention from the first second of your video ad through to its final CTA, your budgets will be better spent shifted over to Connected Television.


Ad Creative Video Type Perfect for Cyber Monday


Unboxing Videos

Unboxing videos are exactly what they sound like. It’s video content that involves the opening of a box or package of your brand’s products. This gives viewers an idea of what they can expect if they order from your brand, and is typically meant to emulate that exciting feeling you get when you receive a package at your door. This is a perfect format for Cyber Monday ads because everything they purchase during the sales period will, naturally, arrive in a box on their doorstep. 

From a broad perspective, these videos are the perfect opportunity to show off your products’ packaging or aesthetic, and a great way to establish authenticity and relatability. In terms of Cyber Monday, it’s the ideal format due to the fact that it allows brands to showcase multiple discounted products all at once. This means with one ad, you could potentially highlight all of the most sought after products that are top of mind for consumers. 

Unboxing videos are often in the arsenal of resources consumers rely on to vet a product before they buy it. So, it’s important to get your own videos in front of them–preferably on the biggest CTV screens in their home–while they are in the discovery phase of the buying process.


Creative Tip for Cyber Monday 

If discounts are key for Black Friday, discount codes are even more key for Cyber Monday, so don’t shy away from putting them front and center in your ads. In our recent Video Vitals analysis of holiday CTV ad creative, we found that when the word “code” was used, it led to a 526% positive impact on ROAS from the baseline average.

Additionally, between 2019 and 2020, ads featuring free shipping or delivery messaging increased by 41%. This increase has led to measurable results, as a recent study found that, due to the fact that younger demographics prioritize faster shipping and guaranteed delivery when shopping online, 43% of millennial consumers will pay more for those value props. 

Conclusion

According to a US holiday shopping report from eMarketer, something unique is happening in 2022: Cyber Monday sales are expected to top Black Friday sales. Due to the pandemic we’ve become accustomed to shopping online, so this feat shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. But it can tell you something about the direction you should take your CTV ad strategies for future holiday shopping seasons.

You can’t go all in on just Black Friday, or Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Monday. You must plan to create CTV ads that can touch upon each of these different days. Remember that video content and ads are highly effective for capturing attention, driving sales, and communicating important brand information. This is especially true with CTV advertising. From highly curated commercials to UGC, video advertising on the largest screens in your home continues to be the best way to reach consumers and drive conversions.

But the key takeaway is this. As the fight for consumer attention rages on, you must make sure you have a solid mix of ads that can speak to what consumers want from each of these disparate days. This will give you a jumping off point when planning future CTV creative for next year’s holiday shopping season.

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