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Ah, the holidays – a time for frosty cheer, twinkling lights, and the annual shopping extravaganza known as Cyber Week. This year, the digital sleigh bells rang louder than ever as consumers, armed with their digital devices, navigated the mountains of deals and discounts.

What did consumers fill their virtual shopping carts with? We turned to Skimlinks (a Taboola company), a content monetization platform for online publishers that automates affiliate product links from publishers’ commerce content. Skimlinks analyzed traffic patterns, sales figures, and commissions generated through their US publisher network. We’re unwrapping the Black Friday and Cyber Monday trends they discovered to show you the content that led consumers down the purchase path, the hottest e-commerce verticals, the merchants who captured the hearts and wallets of shoppers, and products that flew off the virtual shelves like Santa’s reindeer on Christmas Eve.

With these insights, you can tailor your holiday content marketing strategy to capitalize on the remaining days of the season (and Q5!) and jingle your way to your holiday sales goals.

Increased Holiday Traffic (The Good Kind)

Traffic along the e-commerce holiday digital highway began zipping and zooming along earlier than ever this year, but Cyber Week’s 5-day window (November 23 – 27) overflowed with deal-hunting consumers.

Unsurprisingly, Black Friday won the week, with publishers experiencing an 84% increase in clicks compared to an average day in November. Consumers weren’t just browsing or getting the lay of the land on Black Friday; they likely were already in the purchasing mindset and ready to shop deals because that day’s traffic generated the greatest spike in commissions, followed closely by Cyber Monday.

Content That Captivated Consumers

Across the five days, the top-performing pieces fell into one of three categories. Top articles zeroed in on a specific product type or merchant; articles highlighting promotions from various merchants within a particular category also performed well.

Content related to the Travel vertical exhibited the highest year-over-year (YoY) growth; other noteworthy verticals included Fashion, Sport & Fitness, and Beauty. Finally, evergreen content optimized by SEO teams saw an increase in organic share of voice, driving revenue.

Categories That Crushed the Week

The Clothing & Accessories category dominated, generating nearly double the order value of the next two highest-performing verticals – Beauty and Sports & Fitness. Furniture & Décor and Appliances took fourth and fifth place, respectively. Rounding out the top categories were Travel Accessories, which achieved 42% YoY growth in order value, followed by Footwear, Travel Services, Bedding, and Electronics.

Black Friday Merchants & Products That Stole the Show

Diving deeper into Black Friday specifically, publisher data revealed Walmart was one of the top one-stop-shop retailers. Other most-shopped merchants were more vertical or product-specific, including Balsam Hill, Dyson, Saatva, Wayfair, and Away. Top fashion retailers included Lululemon, Nordstrom, Abercrombie & Fitch, and J. Crew.

In line with the gain experienced in the Travel Accessories category, Away ranked as a top merchant for the first time in 2023, experiencing substantial year-over-year growth. Away suitcases were a top-selling product alongside smart TVs, cozy and party clothes, artificial Christmas trees, mattresses, and portable vacuums.

Cyber Monday Merchants & Products That Topped Nice Lists

The merchants that drove the highest publisher revenue on Cyber Monday were nearly identical to the Black Friday list, adding Ulta and Therabody as top merchants. Top products included leggings and sweaters, beauty tools, vacuums, and dining chairs.

Therabody conquered Cyber Monday, with significant uplifts YoY across key metrics including commission, traffic and order value.

The Holiday Content Recipe for Commission Growth

Cyber Week may be over, but there is still time left in the holiday shopping season – don’t neglect Q5. By leveraging the key takeaways from this year’s data, you can optimize your content strategy so it engages audiences and drives maximum commissions.

Here are the essential ingredients for success:

Specificity Matters: Consumers are shopping with precision and intention. Help them navigate the overwhelming sea of holiday offers by developing informative and tailored content that guides them directly to their goals. Create multiple articles focused on specific product types, merchants, or verticals.

Evergreen Content with a Twist: Refresh evergreen content with new information and holiday offers and infuse it with SEO related to consumer searches to boost results.

Bridge the Gap: While your publication may not directly cover top categories like Fashion, don’t let that limit your potential. Explore creative ways to connect those verticals with your audience’s interests. If an article discusses the best big-screen TVs, include (or link to another article) suggestions for complementary gifts like loungewear or sports apparel.

Travel Beyond Your Borders: Travel will be a top priority in 2024. Even if it’s not your main vertical, consider incorporating travel-related content that complements your audience’s preferences. Think travel gadgets for adventure enthusiasts or stylish travel outfits for fashion-forward globetrotters.

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