Marketing | 07 MIN READ

Key shopping days you need to know in the countdown to Christmas

The countdown is on for marketers to make sure they’ve got all the key shopping days covered. Yes, it’s that time of the year again! When seemingly every other week between November and December is make or break. When everyone in e-commerce focuses on one thing: selling, selling as much stuff as they can possibly sell. Knowing which days are when, and their focus, is vital when building display advertising campaigns.

Singles Day

First-up, Singles Day. The day falls on the 11th of November… or 11/11. It’s the biggest shopping day on the planet, with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba raking in an eye-popping $25.4 billion alone. It’s now bigger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined! Previously, not knowing about Singles Day was totally understandable.  Not anymore. It’s the first big shopping day of the season. Even Swedish retailers are getting in on the act!

Here’s a brief history of Singles Day: it’s totally made up! The shopping day started – believe it or not– as a holiday in China for single students. It was a day where the singles of the world (well, China specifically), celebrated by treating themselves. The day came and went, until in 2009, Alibaba began a campaign focusing on the fictional holiday. The timing was perfect and sales went stratospheric.

It’s a massive e-shopping event in China, with websites, apps and even an epic variety show dedicated to building the hype. Take the latest four-hour live show, according to Variety the bonanza featured Nicole Kidman, Pharrell Williams, and bizarrely Maria Sharapova outrunning dominos… as well as Chinese cinema legends Donnie Yen and Jet Li. Singles Day is now an important part of the advertising calendar in China. Its rapid evolution all the more remarkable given the country’s typically collectivist culture.

So, how long until the western world latches on to this? Probably not in quite the way you’d expect. November 11th, Remembrance Day, is a sombre day in many countries. Rather than bringing Singles’ Day to the West, which would clash with Remembrance Day, it’s more likely that Singles’ Day will grow to be a boon for companies who export to China. Alibaba has already lured many international companies onto its platforms. More than 40% of the brands taking part this year came from outside China, according eMarketer research. Those brands who can adapt, and translate, their display advertising are onto a winner.

Black Friday

Let’s start with a bit of back story. Black Friday was once mainly an American shopping day, purely because it’s the Friday after Thanksgiving. It’s always been a huge in store sales day, as it falls on a US public holiday, and is a few weeks before Christmas. Fast-forward a few decades, and it’s a worldwide phenomenon. The sales are crazy, and sometimes the consumers are even crazier, as a quick YouTube search demonstrates.

Black Friday

It’s the biggest Western shopping day of the year by some distance. And for brands, taking advantage of this key shopping date is an absolute must. Producing a fine display campaign is essential. In the UK, nearly a quarter (24%) of all Christmas gift buying is expected to occur on Black Friday, according to a poll of British consumers by technology publishing group Purch. Which considering Thanksgiving isn’t even a holiday in the UK, is impressive!

However, be warned! Brands must try to steer clear of treating Black Friday as a one-off. There should be good deals, remarkable advertising, as well as the infrastructure to target customers in place, well in advance. According to NPD Group’s chief industry analyst, Marshal Cohen: “The last-minute shoppers have moved their timing up”. Thanks to Black Friday and indeed, Cyber Monday consumers are now less likely to wait to the last minute for Christmas gifts.

Cyber Monday

The next day on our key shopping day hit list is Cyber Monday. The Black Friday of the digital age. It falls on the Monday after Black Friday and almost all major e-commerce brands run a campaign for it. Again, the day features offers that you wouldn’t see at any other time of the year.

Indeed, different shopping days have different focuses. Whereas Black Friday is better for electronics, Cyber Monday is good for soft goods. Clothes and shoes are especially great to promote via banners, while beauty products are another fine, Cyber Monday category.

Cyber Monday

A key to marketers planning a successful Cyber Monday campaign is prepping their mobile presence in anticipation of the big day. A survey, conducted by retail data analytics company Euclid Analytics, asked which shopping days US smartphone owners were excited about. It turns out that nearly three-quarters (72%) said Cyber Monday.

Which is great for digital marketers with real-time creative management platforms! As optimizing shopping mobile ads, product feeds, and creating friendly CTAs is easy. Rather than rehashing Black Friday banners, ads can be updated in real-time for Cyber Monday, or schedules planned well in advance.

Green Monday

Last, but not least, Green Monday. Which to quote a colleague, “What?”. Indeed, we already have Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, so what on earth is Green Monday? Well, it’s the second biggest shopping day of the year in terms of online revenue. Plus, it offers huge value for advertisers and viewers.

Green Monday falls on the second Monday in December, and was originally coined back in 2007 by eBay. They used the term to describe their best sales day in December. The phrase was used for two reasons. Firstly, green meant revenue for the company. Second, eBay like to market themselves as green. Well, the firm was originally built on people selling second hand goods, which is a form of recycling!

The name stuck, and today all the big retailers are getting involved. It’s one last chance for brands to boost Christmas revenue, and still get their deliveries out on time. Both vital, as reducing little Timmy to tears as he reaches into an empty stocking can seriously damage your brand’s reputation! The sales tend to be a little more toned down compared to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Singles Day but it’s still important to make the most of this key shopping day.

Three thing to consider when advertising for these dates

So what should you be looking to do for these shopping days? How can brands and display advertisers make the most of these key e-commerce dates? Here are three ways to give your holiday revenues a boost.

Plan your display advertising

Your pre-Christmas display campaigns should always have fantastic, festive designs and be converting views into conversions, but for the big sales days you need to be different. You also really need to highlight that you’re taking part!

Having your brand attached to the specific day. Do this and as soon as someone sees the words ‘Black and ‘Friday together, they know there are going to be exclusive, one-time offers on products that they just might be interested in. Take advantage of this by making sure it’s present on your scheduled ads in the days leading up to the event.

Show your spectacular offers! 

It’s no good just saying you’re having a key shopping day sale, you need to back it up with amazing discounts and offers. Look at what your competitors are doing, and try to beat them. Stand out from the hundreds of thousands of other e-shops by making offers your audience can’t refuse. As long as you’re still making a bit of profit too, of course.

Hype the shopping day up!

Think like Alibaba! These dates are the biggest shopping days of the year, and they keep getting bigger! Use your banner ads to generate hype. Look at your biggest, most desired items, and maybe tease that they will be on offer when the day comes.

You could even have silhouettes of these items, with a countdown to the day itself. Plus, use a CTA that contains a ‘notify me’ type of button, desperate viewers may give their details so you can send out a mailshot when the time comes. That way, they’re getting what they want, and you’re getting another potential conversion.

Running display campaigns for key shopping days

If you want to be seen during the shopping season, then make sure your brand is running an online display campaign. Not just for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but also for Green Monday and Singles Day. Run campaigns around these days so your brand can stand out from the crowd. Here’s a gentle reminder of those key shopping dates:

Key shopping dates for e-commerce

I know what you’re thinking. The thought of designing and implementing four separate ad campaigns seems daunting, but it doesn’t need to be!

With Bannerflow, it’s really simple to design and publish an entire banner campaign. It takes a fraction of the time it would to do it manually, and you can update each published banner in real-time. This means, if you want to, for each of these days you can use the same basic ads, but edit the theme to suit each day. Even better use dynamic banners with feeds, and users will see your latest offers, and products every minute of the shopping day.

It’s not too late to get these campaigns running either. Just design some great ads, schedule them to be displayed on the right dates, and watch as your revenues soar on these supersized shopping days.


There you have it, your guide to the most important shopping dates in the countdown to the Christmas holidays. For e-commerce brands strong display advertising campaigns that are well planned and have unique offers are the way to go. But remember, being able to update your offers and quickly change the focus of a campaign can help you to stand out from the crowd – so use the right tools too.

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