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TODD SMITH — Cyber Monday smashed online sales record

TODD SMITH

TODD SMITH

Cyber Monday, the final lap in the Thanksgiving holiday shopping relay, yielded $3.45 billion in sales, a new online record.

On the day when retailers traditionally roll out a raft of digital deals, Adobe Digital Insights said shoppers spent 12.1 percent more than Cyber Monday 2015, and 2.6 percent more than Adobe initially predicted.

“Cyber Monday was one for the history books this year,” Tamara Gaffney, Adobe’s principal analyst said in a statement to USA TODAY. “It’s an incredible milestone, but it’s also incredible that Black Friday inched so close to Cyber Monday this year, generating only $110 million less in online sales.”

Mobile shopping continued its surge as an increasingly popular way to browse and buy. Consumers spent $1.07 billion shopping on their tablets and smartphones, 34 percent more than last year, but $130 million less than what they doled out via mobile device on Black Friday.

The National Retail Federation reports that 23 percent of those shopping on Cyber Monday expected to do their browsing from their mobile gadgets, roughly the same number as in 2015.

The NRF survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, found that 122 million consumers – 1 million more than last year – expected to shop on Cyber Monday. But like Black Friday, Cyber Monday is no longer a one-day affair, with some retailers kicking off their specials as early as Thanksgiving and extending them throughout the following week.

Walmart, for instance, began offering some Cyber Monday discounts at 8 p.m. on Sunday and offered thousands of additional items throughout the week. And Amazon, which said it was expecting it’sbest Cyber Monday ever after selling more than 2 million toys in the first half of the day alone, will also feature cyber deals all week.

“The competition is who can be first with the deal to snag the sale before someone else does,’’ said Efraim Levy, senior equity analyst at CFRA. “Black Friday, and by extension, the Cyber Monday motif, is a way of branding to say, ‘we have special discounts today. Buy it now.’’’

But that extended sales period may diminish Cyber Monday’s standing as a singular, blockbuster event, like Black Friday, which is “not as important as it once had been,” Levy says.

While Cyber Monday was created with online shopping in mind, increasingly that’s becoming the preferred way of browsing throughout the holiday season. More people shopped online between

Thanksgiving Day and Sunday than in an actual store, with 43.8 percent using a smartphone, tablet or computer to peruse clothing, toys or other items, according to the NRF.

In-store traffic meanwhile, saw a drop. ShopperTrak, a retail solutions provider, said preliminary data showed that in-store visits dropped a combined 1 percent on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, compared to last year.  And preliminary data from analytics firm RetailNext showed that in-store net sales plunged 10.4 percent on Black Friday vs. 2015.

Will 2017 be the year of the common media currency?

Ad buyers and sellers have fantasized about a common metric to accurately capture viewership and serve as a currency in ad deals across linear TV, video-on-demand and mobile screens.

But Lyle Schwartz, GroupM’s new president of investment, thinks that 2017 may finally be the year “when we can buy programs across the devices,” he told Variety. “I can tell you the technological capability could be available for next year’s upfront,” he said.

For the networks, a common metric could help prove that a dip in linear TV viewership doesn’t necessarily mean a dip in overall viewership, as more people find new ways to watch their favorite shows. As Variety points out, CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves thinks Nielsen’s new total audience ratings may help the cause. (Of course, a unified metric also could prove the opposite – that, in fact, some of the audience simply has stopped watching TV on any platform.) If anyone can convince networks and digital media companies to adopt a new common metric, it’s probably Mr. Schwartz, whose parent WPP influences the spending of approximately $30 billion in advertising from blue-chip marketers.

If Schwartz can persuade the nation’s big media companies to agree on a common measurement framework to tally viewers across TV, digital and mobile, the move could be a huge benefit to networks struggling with declining linear ratings. Every year after the May upfront presentations, dozens of networks haggle over advance advertising commitments worth tens of billions of dollars – all based on viewership of commercial breaks on linear television.

With more consumers – particularly the younger ones advertisers desire most – moving to mobile tablets, time-shifted viewing and on-demand video streaming, that reach has declined significantly. Consider that the second-season finale of “American Idol” reached 38.06 million viewers in 2002. In contrast, the second-season finale of “Empire,” one of TV’s most popular programs, reached just 10.8 million in 2016.

Several big media companies would stand to gain by adopting what has become known in the industry as “total audience measurement.”

Viacom, owner of channels including Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central that appeal primarily to younger viewers, has seen its reach among traditional TV viewers plummet in recent years – along with its stock price. Broadcast networks, which have suffered as more consumers record their favorite programs and watch them at times of their own choosing with a DVR, would regain some of their ballast in primetime. And companies like Comcast and Disney that invest heavily in sports broadcasts like the Olympics and “Monday Night Football” would get credit for audiences that are stating to watch even live match-ups – the one programming format that resisted the erosion trend until this year – through alternate video means.

ESPN in recent months has started to cut advertising deals that call for measurement of viewers watching TV in hotels, bars and other people’s homes, said Eric Johnson, the Disney-owned outlet’s executive vice president of global ad revenue and sales operations. “As you might expect, these audiences look a little bit different than the traditional TV audiences being captured by the Nielsen samples,” he said.

For decades, advertisers used Nielsen’s program ratings to guide them as to how much they should or should not pay to advertise on TV. Working with his predecessor, the influential ad buying executive Rino Scanzoni, Schwartz in 2006 convinced buyers and sellers alike to adopt “commercial ratings,” or the average viewership of a commercial break, as the new currency to replace age- and gender-based demographic ratings. GroupM pushed the concept as a way to help advertisers understand who was watching ads as more consumers adopted the fast-forwarding capabilities of the DVR in their homes. Several years later, GroupM helped establish “C7” deals, or pacts that took into account the number of viewers watching ad breaks within seven days of a program’s initial airing, a nod to the increasing numbers of viewers catching up with programs on their own timetables.

Golden Mic | Trump team already saving American jobs

Team Trump has saved thousands of jobs in America, even before the president-elect takes office.

After Carrier Corp. threatened to shutter a factory in Indianapolis and take the plant and more than 1,000 jobs to Mexico, Donald Trump and Mike Pence orchestrated a deal that keeps the plant and thousands of jobs in America.

Through the deal – thanks in part to a $7 million tax break from the Hoosier State – the famous air and heating brand will keep its roots firmly entrenched in the middle of America. And Trump is making good on his campaign pledge to “Make America Great Again.”

For that, Team Trump takes the Golden Mic. The Spin Cycle hopes that one of the world’s best dealmakers continues to strike gold for workers and businesses across our great land!

» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.

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