Carbon Brand Tracker: Who won holiday shopping 2018?



It’s clear from the results of the Black Friday 2018 weekend that the shopping bonanza continues to be a key date in marketers’ calendars. Whilst most have considered Black Friday to be the kick-off of the holiday shopping season, many have suggested that the holiday shopping actually starts sooner – creating ‘Black November’.

Using data from across our network we looked at when and for how long holiday-related shopping terms were trending. Delving deeper into the trends we then leveraged brand signal data to identify the trending brands across our network in “fashion” and “technology” for Christmas 2018.

‘Black November’

Judging by certain terms in our taxonomy – such as ‘christmas’, ‘black friday’ and ‘cyber monday’ there’s a pick up in signals in early November that stays relatively constant for the period. Below shows the uniques seen across our network (blue line) and the amount of those uniques that were ‘synced’ for data sales (green line), for selected holiday shopping-related terms in our taxonomy. This fuels the suggestions of a longer holiday period, which will have repercussions for future holiday shopping strategies.


Given that many customers aren’t waiting until Black Friday anymore, brands will be looking at pre, mid, and post Black Friday strategies to make the most of the prolonged shopping period. According to an NPD Group survey in September, approx 20% of customers had started their holiday shopping in September or earlier, with approx 25% starting before Thanksgiving.

Furthermore; taking the top fashion and tech brand signals that the Carbon platform tracks across our network, there’s a clear ramp-up in early November (see graph below) that continues throughout before falling into December. Interestingly, tech brands see a sharper fall after November suggesting that shoppers get their more expensive purchases earlier, perhaps to benefit from Black Friday deals.

Usual Tech suspects: Smartphone & Console brands

The table below shows the top 10 tech brands we tracked over the Black Friday weekend – showing the most popular across our network as well as the split between the 4 shopping days across the Black Friday weekend.

There’s no real surprises in this list, though we can see some key battles. For instance; in the battle for smartphone supremacy iPhone seem to have won out against Samsung Galaxy; Playstation won the console wars; whilst vacuum cleaner brand Dyson and audio products brand Bose made it into the top 10 too.

For the share of uniques across the weekend, Friday and Monday dominated as expected with most favouring BF, though Samsung and Nintendo shoppers seemed to favour Cyber Monday. Taking into account all tech brands across our network Black Friday saw 35% of the weekend’s brand signals, followed by Cyber Monday’s 28%, Saturday’s 19% and Sunday’s 18%.


[Note: The brand signals we have tracked indicates when a user is interacting with brand-related content for a given time period, assigned to the relevant brand within our taxonomy.]

Mixed bag for fashion brands

The table below shows the top 10 fashion brands we tracked over the Black Friday weekend – showing the most popular across our network as well as the split between the 4 shopping days across the Black Friday weekend.

There was more of a mixed bag when it came to the top fashion brands over the Black Friday weekend. There was a dominant presence for more luxury brands including the likes of Barbour, Armani and Vivienne Westwood; whilst sports/outdoor brands such as Adidas and The North Face saw high numbers too.

For fashion brands there seemed to be a much more even distribution across the entire weekend in terms of engagement. Taking into account all fashion brands across our network Black Friday saw 32% share of brand signals followed by Cyber Monday’s 24%, Saturday’s 23% and Sunday’s 21%.

Build audiences based on brand affinity using Carbon

Understanding brand affinity is a key aspect to serving your audiences better, whilst understanding the seasonality of brand affinities can also uncover key insights and higher revenues. Retailers and publishers need the full picture when it comes to what brands and products are trending generally, but more importantly knowing what is trending for THEIR audience can help optimise customer experiences and maximise revenue potential.  For instance; if a publisher’s audience is trending for specific brands, there’s an opportunity to set up direct deals with those brands.

As such Carbon enables publishers, media owners and retailers to view breakdowns of brand affinities within their site network to then build audiences around those affinities and engage better with those audiences. Carbon’s “And/Or” logic rule can then enable more sophisticated audience creation by combining multiple filters such as “customers with X brand affinity that have intent Y”

There are a number of attributes that can be used to create audiences on the Carbon platform, either in isolation or in combination. These attributes include a number of demographic indicators, property (the website used as a source for your query), device (desktop, smartphone or tablet), interest in a product/topic, intent to purchase, and brand affinity, among other parameters.

For further information on how you could use Carbon or to speak to someone about trialling the platform for free, get in touch using the form below.