Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving in the US, is called “black friday” because it is supposedly the day the average brick and mortar retailer becomes profitable on the year. Black means positive or profitable in accounting.
Retailers launch special, stampede inducing (people have died), sales on this day for people out buying Christmas gifts. It has gotten pretty crazy in some sort of retail arms race they’re opening earlier, and earlier. A few years ago it was 6 AM, then 4 AM, then midnight, now some places start the sales on Thanksgiving while football is still being played and turkey is still warm.
A while back someone noticed a pattern, people would shop at stores and the malls on Black Friday, and the Saturday and Sunday that followed, only to end up on the Internet when they go into work Monday morning and do their online shopping. The largest online shopping day of the year is ACTUALLY December 14th or 15th (or around there depending on where Christmas falls each year, the last reliable day for free/ground shipping to make it in time). However, Cyber Monday (the monday after Thanksgiving) as it is called, has become a marketing cliche with many online retailers holding special promotions.
These online retailers typically also offer special promotions on Black Friday, in their desire to take even more marketshare from brick and mortar types, but they get Cyber Monday too.
The people who really benefit from all this hoopla, I think, are us publishers. The ad dollars spent yesterday announcing Cyber Monday sales are off the charts. I personally had my best day ever with multiple ad networks, and for the first time passed $1000 in ad (CPC or CPM) revenue (net) with a single website. I’ve done $1000 a day with CPA/affiliate programs before. I’ve done it with ecommerce frequently. I’ve done it with regular ads overall as a total of all my sites, but yesterday was the first time a single site managed to break the $1000 mark all by itself with just CPC/CPM ads. It wasn’t a traffic spike, traffic was normal, even a little down, it was premium CPMs and eCPMs that suddenly showed up.
I don’t know if this was a one day Cyber Monday celebration, or simply the start of what is going to be a very good holiday shopping season, but it would seem to me that online ad spending has DEFINITELY recovered from the recession, and if we’ve still got room to grow, well, it is a good time to be a publisher.
If “Black Friday” is the day when brick and mortar retailers get in the black, then Cyber Monday would seem to be the day for website publishers to do the same.
Edit: Just in comScore reports Cyber Monday biggest online ad day in history with over 1 billion spent. Can you feel it? I sure did.