Black Friday Follow-Up: Brand Bidding Increases Through Thanksgiving Weekend

Jennie Scholick Dec 9, 2014

Right before Thanksgiving, we ran a quick post outlining how to minimize the non-compliant paid search tactics that often crop up around Black Friday. We also said in that post that we’d update with any trends we noticed in the days leading up to and on Black Friday. This is that post! (Aren’t you excited?)

To be perfectly honest, there wasn’t as significant an increase in brand bidding around Thanksgiving as we feared we might see. This is good news for brands and retailers, as it means that for the most part, people acted appropriately around these major shopping days.

That’s not to say there wasn’t an uptick at all. This graph shows the incidence of non-brand ads using trademarked terms for the month leading up to Thanksgiving and continuing until December 5, 2014. The data is pulled from the same cohort of monitoring policies as our State of Branded Keywords Report, meaning that the search terms were brand names, domains, and common misspellings. It did not include searches like “[Brand Name] coupons,” which might have further inflated the numbers.


A few interesting things appear here. First, on the day before Thanksgiving, non-brand trademark usage dropped to its lowest levels all month. It’s hard to say what exactly caused this, but there is a general pattern of numbers dropping, then spiking throughout the month--perhaps as a result of fiddling with ad campaigns or attempts to hide from compliance teams. Wednesday was a lot of people’s last day in the office before leaving for the weekend and perhaps brand bidders decided to lay low until everyone was out.

Second, starting on Thanksgiving and continuing through Saturday, trademark usage by competing advertisers was particularly high. As you can see, numbers skyrocketed back up on Thursday, more than making up for the dip on Wednesday. The number of non-brand Ads/SERP on Black Friday was the highest for the entire month of November. The implication here is that people interested in targeting brands’ trademarks on paid search did take advantage of the holiday weekend’s increased shopping and the fact that many compliance and marketing teams were out of the office or simply overwhelmed by their own marketing campaigns.

The final interesting point here is that there is a (small) drop in non-brand Ads/SERP on Sunday, followed by another uptick on Monday and Tuesday, suggesting that Cyber Monday has become nearly as much of a target for brand bidders as Black Friday.

It is absolutely clear that brand bidders do target companies over the Thanksgiving weekend and that it would be in a brand’s best interest to put in place a monitoring system to catch the offenders, if they do not have one already. That said, we’re planning to do a bit more digging into how brands, especially in the online retail space, are targeted around the holidays more broadly. Preliminary looks at the data suggest that, overall, numbers of non-brand Ads/SERP go up in November and December and that’s a topic we’ll explore in more length in our next report on the State of Branded Keywords in Paid Search. Keep an eye out for that in January.

Did you notice an uptick in brand bidding over the holiday weekend? Let us know in the comments or by contacting us at BrandVerity!

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