Why does Black Friday receive so much attention online? Rachel Hodgson takes a look at how it’s got to its behemoth size.
You probably spent last week being bombarded by email offers from retailers you barely remember signing up to, offering increasingly over-excited exhortations to check out their Black Friday deals. Traditionally focused on electricals, this phenomenon now seems to encompass discounts on everything from cosmetics to furniture and hotels to cultural institutions (if my inbox is anything to judge by).
In recent years, outside the US, the UK has led the way in adopting this retail event and some are predicting 2016 is the year that other European markets will follow suit and take part in the bargain bonanza. Here, it is already well-established and now gains a huge amount of exposure every year. In fact, alongside your inbox-bombardment, you probably noticed wall-to-wall coverage of Black Friday deals across pretty much all media, from the nationals and specialist publications all the way through to blogs.
The Guardian’s Olivia Solon wrote back in July about how adtech was incentivising coverage of Amazon Prime Day and the same marketing technology could be encouraging media outlets to maximise Black Friday coverage too.
I am sure that publishers would argue that, in the interests of their readers, they would be writing about the best available deals anyway – so why not monetise this content through affiliate marketing? In this way they can reap the rewards of a percentage of the spend from consumers who click through from their articles and make purchases.
In a world where most publishers are struggling to survive on traditional revenue streams, can we blame them for exploiting technology to open up new ones, if done transparently?
As a PR who has witnessed the shrinking of editorial teams and shuttering of media outlets over the last decade as the industry has struggled to adapt to a changing world of online content consumption, I am all for the evolution of business models this way, provided that publications and bloggers alike are clear about their approach.
That said, with such an avalanche of coverage, even I was bored of Black Friday by the time it eventually arrived. For other Black Friday naysayers out there I highly recommend reading the entertaining ‘The 10 lies about Black Friday’s consumerist circle of hell’.
For everybody else – as your bargain deliveries are arriving, I hope that you are not suffering from buyer’s remorse!
Rachel Hodgson, Director & Partner, Technology
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February 21, 2024