Bing search engine data from the last holiday season show that consumers who click on Black Friday and Cyber Monday ads convert relatively quickly, within eight days on average. 77% of searches are on non-branded terms, which means savvy advertisers have lots of opportunity to capture sales from consumers shopping around.

Aaron Dang, analytical lead, Microsoft Advertising

As the rush of back-to-school shoppers tapers off, marketers’ thoughts turn to the Holidays and the year’s apex retail days: Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The number of searchers clicking their way to Holiday deals is on the rise—especially those on mobile devices. According to internal Microsoft data, during the 2018 Holiday season, mobile comprised 28.4% of Bing retail clicks, and in 2019 mobile is predicted to grow at 18.5% YoY. Additionally, Bing Shopping Campaigns, which comprised 20% of ad clicks in the 2018 Holiday season, are predicted to grow at 23.3% YoY in 2019.

With so many people searching online, having a solid search marketing strategy is essential if you want to enjoy a bigger piece of the Holiday pie. To help, we’ve compiled some insights and tips to help you tune up your Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM) search marketing plans.

While most shoppers begin paying attention 12 days out, they are most engaged three days from conversion.

What we learned about timing

To get better insights into the BFCM customer decision journey, Microsoft Advertising dove into the data. Specifically, we examined digital research behavior collected from Bing users who had visited or searched for sites related to “Black Friday Deals” or “Cyber Monday Deals” at least six times from October through December 2018. We identified 1,000 users with 9.3 million page views as highly qualified shoppers.


The first thing we learned is that one in three BFCM shoppers took one day to convert and three in five converted within a week, with the average BCFM journey lasting eight days. For comparison purposes, consider that the average Christmas shopping journey takes 23 days. Outside the Holidays, the typical laptop journey takes 62 days and the special-occasion dress journey takes 89 days.

We also found that while the BFCM shopping journey is compressed, when comparing the two journeys side by side, Black Friday searches take place over a longer timeframe than Cyber Monday searches. This means that there is a bit more time to market your deals for Black Friday—but a shorter time to market for Cyber Monday, which saw the most clicks during the 2018 Holiday season.

Not surprisingly, we found that page views increase as shoppers get close to making a purchase. While most shoppers begin paying attention 12 days out, they are most engaged three days from conversion. We found that 55% of these folks shopped on two or more sites.


What we learned about clicks and queries

What are Holiday shoppers clicking on? We found that 77% of clicks during the Holiday season are non-branded (the query does not contain a specific company or brand name), which means that savvy advertisers have an opportunity to influence decision making. Furthermore, popular search queries included phrases like “Black Friday deals 2018” and “best Black Friday deals 2018” as well as “Cyber Monday deals” and “best Cyber Monday deals 2018.”

Black Friday query growth was slower than Cyber Monday, indicating there is more time to influence consumer decisions for Black Friday. Cyber Monday queries ramped up faster, so having competitive offers in the week leading to the event is mandatory. It’s also important to note that Black Friday and Cyber Monday searches continue after both holidays.

Boost BFCM results with these tips

So how can you make the most of BFCM? Here are some tips to help you boost your results.


1. Make the most of your timing

  • +/- 7 days from BFCM are the most important days for engaging shoppers and +/-14 days from BFCM are the second most important days.
  • Use remarketing to capture users who are ramping in engagement.
  • Have Black Friday offers in market early to entice consumers who are planning their shopping around deals.

2. Influence consumer decisions

  • Use conquest marketing to capture comparison shoppers who visit more than one site. For example, highlight deals and discounts to homepage visitors with special discounts on first orders.
  • Showcase popular new products on your deal pages.

3. Keep consumers engaged

  • On specific product or category pages, be sure to feature product comparison pages for reviews.
  • For cart abandoners, promote limited-time offers, free shipping, or in-store pickup for online purchases.
  • Use automated extensions to surface products that consumers have searched for in the past.

4. Budget wisely

  • Cyber week has the most competition so cost per clicks (CPCs) is higher, but it is imperative for advertisers to compete for the conversion. The good news is that CPCs are expected to decrease by 3% overall and by 11.5% for mobile.

As you prepare your search advertising plans, remember that there’s more to the Holiday season than Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Holiday shopping starts to pick up in October and continues all the way into January, so be sure to allocate budgets over the entire season, including post-Christmas. October has the lowest CPCs so it’s a great time to influence early brand discovery and decision making.

Microsoft Corp. owns the Bing search engine.