9 min watch

Video: How We Helped IDG Achieve Record Black Friday Traffic

Black Friday is one of the most important days of the year for any retailer, so when IDG came to us for help in maximising their online traffic on that day, we worked across several teams to help them achieve their goal. Find out how in my video below.

Video: How We Helped IDG Achieve Record Black Friday Traffic

Video Transcription


The case study I wanted to present today is one of our oldest clients, IDG. I know only some of you have worked on IDG, so you’ll be aware of what they do. The rest of you might not. But you’ll certainly be aware of the publications that IDG manages. So IDG stands for International Data Group and what they are is very much a technology company, even though they’re publishing these websites and magazines. They reach around about 22 million people in the UK every year. So in publication terms they’re massive. And in terms of digital publications they’re a really, really smart bunch setting some really good stuff with ad technology and the kind of marketing to bespoke audiences that the companies can do to their platforms.

So their brief to us. They came to us and said, “We need to increase traffic to PC Advisor.” Which is kind of their flagship publication. “And Macworld.” Which is sort of their equivalent publication for people that use Apple devices. They want to get traffic specifically to their Black Friday deals section. This will increase both their advertising revenue and their affiliate revenue. So those of you who pay attention in the publishing world may be aware the affiliate revenue is becoming a lot more important to these people. As we’ve discussed many times, advertising doesn’t kind of pay the bills as it used to. So a lot of websites are turning to these kind of affiliate arrangements with retailers where they can send traffic to their websites. If that traffic buys something, they get a cut of it.

So just to give you an example of how that might work. If the Amazon affiliate scheme pays out about 3% on electronics, so that means if somebody goes from your website and buys a two grand Mac, you’re getting somewhere in the region, I think that’s about 60 quid. To make that much money through display advertising, you’re talking somewhere in the region of 40-50 thousand uniqes. So you can see why this kind of arrangement is quite appealing to publishers. It’s quite a good way to get extra money on. The books … There was actually a publication in the same sector as IDG called the Wirecutter, which was built entirely on affiliate revenue. That was actually sold last year to the New York Times for about 30 million quid. So it’s a really, really growing area. IDG have rightly recognised that it’s an important part of their revenue. So they wanted to help … They came to us to help them grow.

So broadly speaking, our approach was in three areas. Firstly we wanted to build a really user friendly and extensible structure for their website where their Black Friday deals lived. We wanted to make purchasing easy and we wanted to highlight related deals. A lot of this was … We thought quite carefully about how people shop, specifically on Black Friday. I’m sure you’ve all done it. I certainly have. You tend to approach it in one of two ways. Either you just think, “I’ve got a bit of cash burning a hole in my pocket, I’m just going to go and buy something because it’s dirt cheap.” Or you want a specific thing and then the task becomes about hunting down the best price of that specific thing. So we wanted to cater to both of those behaviours.

So first thing we did was put the website structure together. Dom put this together, did a fantastic job in my opinion. As you can see this structure is very much like a shop and that was very much by design. Hmm? It was Chris?


Yeah it was Chris.


It was Chris. My apologies Chris. Very much like a shop. Because what are people doing on Black Friday? They’re shopping. So you don’t want to make the structure like a magazine, you want to make it like a shop. That’s those kind of interactions that people are used to. So we devised two structures. One for PC Advisor, with all of their technology deals. One for Macworld, with all of the iPhone, iPad, etc. deals. You’ll notice they’re colour coded there. That was a kind of aid for IDG’s development team to let them know which ones were the highest priority in case we weren’t able to roll all of them out by the time Black Friday rolled around. As it happened, IDG’s development team are very good. We managed to get the whole thing out with quite a long time left to spare.

So the second tenet of this work was making purchasing easy. This, I don’t know if you can see it very well, but this on the left side was their Black Friday page from the previous year. So they did it … It’s not as bad as it looked because they did it as a live blog, so they kind of updated it throughout the day. So like, “We found this deal, we found this deal, we found this deal.” But then they just went in a chronological order so there wasn’t any kind of ordering to them and the interaction cost for people visiting this page is incredibly high. Because if you, say I wanted to by a 4k TV. You land on this page, you scroll down, you scroll, you scroll, you scroll, you think and then finally you realise, “Oh it’s actually not in any kind of order. It’s just in chronological order.” So then you got to hunt through or maybe do a Ctrl+F and go, “Where’s the TVs?” And they’re hid sort of around here.

So it, from a user’s point of view it was particularly ideal. So what we designed was a layout like his. Kind of a tiled layout. Again, you’ll probably notice it looks quite similar to an eCommerce website. Because that’s the kind of behaviour we’re trying to evoke in people. So you’ve got a nice product picture, you’ve got the name of the product. We thought that the copy here and actually what is most important for users when they’re shopping, and specifically when they’re looking for a good deal. So we thought product picture. A lot of people shop visually if you want an Xbox, you know what an Xbox looks like, you just look for it on the page. Product name, where people are buying from. Some people have loyalty to particular retailers. What the original price was, what the price is now, and how much money you’re saving. And you’ll notice these are actually called out in bold and red text just to draw your eye to them a little bit. And then of course a nice clear “Buy now” essentially button.

So if you kind of go from that to that, you can see the kind of improvement we’ve made. So the third tenet, this was highlighting related deals. This is more a function of the structure that Chris put together but basically wherever you are in this site map, you’re always seeing related deals. Some people might just be shopping for a TV. So there’s a page for TVs, you’ll see all the related deals on TVs. Some people might be shopping for something specific, like consoles there for example. If you’re a Playstation man like myself, you’re certainly not going to buy an Xbox. So you’re going to look for the Playstation deals, so you get all of those. So we’re not just looking at consoles, we’re going one level deeper. We’re looking at Playstations.

So those were kind of how we cover three areas of how we wanted to tackle this task. So we got it deployed again. IDG’s development team did a really, really great job. I should also say this was very much a collaboration between Tech, ourselves, and Creative. It’s one of those examples of projects where we can work really nicely together and we can all kind of lean on one another to get some really good best practice in there.

So how did we do? I’m please to say that the results were very positive. So overall we saw a year-on-year increase in organic traffic on Black Friday, 22% increase for PC Advisor, a 61% increase for Macworld. Which was incredibly positive, really nice. And the other nice result, from our point of view, was that we actually managed to do a huge reduction in time on page. Ordinarily for a publisher that would be a pretty bad thing because they want to keep people on a page for as long as they can, they want them to engage with the content, they want them to click on ads, they want them to share on social, that sort of stuff.

But if you think of the function of this pages, we’re basically trying to ferry people from one place to the other, help them find the thing they want as quickly as possible and then get them to leave to go and buy it so that they, IDG, can make some money. So it was 43% reduction PC Advisor, 41% reduction on Macworld and actually on the main Black Friday deals page, on PC Advisor that reduction was actually around 60%, which is pretty impressive I thought.

But I think, potentially the nicest result of this, I think, from a lot of our point of views, was that we’ve … This wasn’t just a sort of piece of consultancy. We’ve actually given IDG a kind of infrastructure that they can use again and again. So they can deploy this on their site next Black Friday, next Cyber Monday. They can do it for the January sales. It’s like a reusable modular thing. And it’s got a lot of best practice baked in. As you can see it works really well for users so we were kind of proud that we were able to make this really nice thing and give it to them so they can use it whenever they want. And actually they already are using it. They’ve given it a home on Tech Advisor websites, which is kind of one of the sub-brands of PC Advisor. There’s a deals tab at the top and this thing that we built now lives there permanently. Which I think is, again, a really nice thing.

So it performed really well. The kind of development and implementation of it went really, really smoothly and I’m really looking forward to seeing how it performs next Black Friday, because I think it’s going to do even better. That’s it.

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