The winter holiday is the biggest retail season of the year with $61.8B in projected U.S. sales according to eMarketer. That's a 15% growth rate from 2012 and the second straight year in a row with a 15% gain. Once again, November and December will see the highest spend levels, accounting for more than 1/5 of all 2013 retail spend.
Unique this retail season, compared to last year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday will occur a week later compressing the 2013 holiday shopping season. Because both Black Friday and Cyber Monday generally offer aggressive promotions and discounts, retailers and online shoppers can expect to see some traditional discount much earlier. According to Baynote, 1/3 of retailers will begin promotions in early October. These promotions will include free shipping, buy-one-get-one-free (BOGO), and flash sales.
Who exactly will cash in on the Thanksgiving weekend sales? Data from 2012 BIGinsight – Black Friday Weekend survey suggests 15% plan to shop on Thanksgiving Day; 37% on Friday; 34% on Saturday; and 18% on Sunday. Weekend spend will average $432.55. The percent of respondents indicating an intent to shop online during Cyber Monday is even greater at 54%.
In addition, Consumer electronics—newly released gaming consoles, smartphone models (including the new iPhone)—will drive significant demand. Spending on gift cards will also continue to grow while spending on apparel will see a modest increase.
Mobile traffic should continue to grow. In fact, according to IMB Core Metrics 2012, online sales and traffic from mobile devices on Black Friday 2012 increased by 65.2% and 67.8% compared to 2011. For Cyber Monday, these numbers were 96.2% and 71.4%; further evidence that advertisers must develop a mobile strategy to complement their sales channel.
What Should Advertisers Do?
How can you get started and capture your share of holiday spend? It's not too late ... the most important thing is to get your campaign up and running now, and then to optimize according to your target audience's needs and behaviors.
- Build out your Keyword and Negative Keyword lists if you haven't done so already.
- Check out where your competition and partners are found and what's working for them.
- Familiarize yourself with new features and available ad extensions such as click-to-call and Sitelinks.
- Create seasonal ad copy and include special offers for early shoppers.
- Consider device-specific ad content.
- Launch your holiday campaign and check your account for any issues that may prevent the delivery of your ad (budget/bids, quality, etc.).
- Increase your budget for the Thanksgiving weekend, especially for Black Friday and Cyber Monday
- Update creative with any new promotions or special offers.
- Check account and campaign status frequently to ensure maximum delivery.
- Update creative and consider shipping promotions such ad free shipping and guaranteed delivery.
- Consider in-store pick up for late orders and to drive in-store traffic for incremental sales; in-store coupons can also be effective in driving brick-and-mortar traffic.
- Queue up post-holiday ad copy and schedule it to go live so you can capitalize on consumer buying and gift card redemption after 12/25 (Don't forget about the upcoming New Year and healthy resolutions!)
Tools such as Bing Ads Intelligence and Bing Ads Editor can help you build out, analyze and monitor your account and campaigns. If you are pressed for time, don't worry ... you can quickly import your AdWords Campaigns and get started!
 eMarketer Holiday Shopping Preview Omnichannel's Blurred Lines, September 2013
 Baynote's Holiday Predictions Survey