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Black Friday and Cyber Monday are no longer one-day events. Facing a shorter holiday season, retailers rolled out deals earlier than ever this year, and shoppers followed suit. In fact, people were searching for Cyber Monday deals as early as Thanksgiving Day when “Cyber Monday” was a top trending search on Google. What else does our data show? Not only did consumers start early, but they also hunted for deals all weekend long, often on mobile devices. Tech gifts dominated and vloggers shared their finds in “haul videos” on YouTube. Savvy advertisers are tracking these trends to inform and improve their efforts all season long.

This is the year of the digital store window. Whether you braved the crowds at the mall or stayed in the comfort of your own home, chances are you used your laptop, smartphone or tablet to hunt for this year’s Black Friday deals. In fact, according to our research, 89% of all holiday shoppers expect to shop and research online this holiday season. So it’s no surprise that, according to Bloomberg, Black Friday online spending increased 15% to a record $1.2 billion. But Black Friday is no longer only a one-day event. According to Google internal data, this year’s consumers started earlier and continued hunting for deals into the following week, often on their mobile devices.

Black Friday started early online

Facing a shorter holiday season, retailers are making up for lost time. Many opened their doors on Thanksgiving Day and rolled out deals on their websites earlier than ever. Shoppers followed suit. On Thanksgiving Day, Cyber Monday was the #3 top trending search on Google. Looking deeper at the data, we saw that holiday shopping-related searches (retail queries) on Google spiked higher Thursday evening compared to last year. On Black Friday, people were shopping online throughout the day (with a short break for lunch). Searches on Google Shopping peaked between 8 a.m. and noon and again between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Turkey, stuffing and smartphones

Much of this shopping was happening on mobile devices. Holiday-related searches on mobile devices peaked on Thursday evening and spiked again on Black Friday morning. This makes sense: Many people are away from home and have some down time to shop. It also validates a trend we’ve been seeing for a while: Smartphones are cementing their places as our personal shopping assistants. According to our consumer survey research, mobile shopping is expected to increase 17% over last year. This year, 76% of all smartphone owners are expected to use their mobile devices to research and shop for gifts.

Cyber Monday lived up to its name

Cyber Monday was the biggest day for e-Commerce this year. Online sales rose 21%, according to IBM, and were 31.5% higher than on Black Friday. We saw this reflected in holiday shopping-related searches that went strong from morning till night. Whereas apparel and toys were popular items on Black Friday, tech gifts dominated Cyber Monday’s list of most popular items on Google Shopping. Tablets, video game consoles and phones were all trending on Google Shopping as people hunted for gifts for themselves and others. Engagement rings also spiked in searches with December being the most popular month for engagements. UGG boots held steady on the most-searched apparel item on Google Shopping.

Social sites drive constant shopping

Social sites like YouTube are also contributing to constant online shopping. More than 40,000 Black Friday haul videos—videos where vloggers share their purchases—had been posted to YouTube as of December 3. In the U.S., from Black Friday to Cyber Monday, there were over two million views of almost 7,000 unique videos with “Black Friday Haul” in the titles. These types of videos are driving consumers to stores; our research found that out of 10 apparel shoppers who watch videos about a product, four will go to stores or online to check out that product.

One of the most popular Black Friday haul videos on YouTube was Dulce Candy’s haul from Zara, Sephora, Bath and Body Works, and more. It had more than 121,000 views.


Black Friday Multiday Multidevice Event

Advertisers are getting in on the trend, too. To reach shoppers on the web during Cyber Monday week, Target created its own “haul" video series with two dogs Fritz and Chico, which riffs off a popular type of video that vloggers post on YouTube—a haul video that shows off their latest purchases. This is the latest in a series of haul videos it's filmed with these two dog “vloggers.”

Toys“R”Us has been testing a flash sale shoppable video campaign on its new YouTube Toy Channel. Every day, a new deal video is uploaded with amazing offers you can’t find anywhere else, along with a link you can click to buy the product. This effort has been generating over 100,000 views per day.

As the holiday shopping season hits full swing, these broader trends are on track to continue. People will be shopping constantly on the web across all screens. They’ll be influenced by deals and offers even outside of traditional shopping days. And they’ll rely on videos to inform their purchase decisions. To keep tracking trends, including hot products and consumer interests, marketers can use Google Trends, YouTube Trends Dashboard and AdWords tools like Keyword Planner to optimize their marketing efforts all season long.