Facebook: How the landscape of Q4 is shifting, and what that means for digital advertisers

Ian Edwards

Last week, Ian Edwards, Facebook’s Head of Comms Planning for Northern Europe, joined the IAB to present some of Facebook’s latest Christmas research.

Ian spent 15 years planning campaigns for clients at Vizeum, Mediaedge:cia, CARAT and MediaCom before joining Facebook. For the past two years, he has been helping brands and agencies get the most out of Facebook’s family of apps. That means staying on top of seasonal trends, and leveraging Facebook’s unique capacity for precision targeting. Here, he shares his thoughts on how the landscape of Q4 is shifting, and what that means for digital advertisers.

What Christmas trends are you seeing this year?

I'm interested in Q4 trends moving around the globe. Black Friday has moved from West to East and it's a juggernaut. One out of three people globally shop on Black Friday. And then there are holidays coming East to West like Singles' Day on November 11th. It's the biggest online shopping day in the world now – we're seeing a big spike on November 11th in every market around the world.

What other days are becoming important?

There is the rise of Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving in the US), Manic Monday (two weeks out from Christmas) and what I call 'Panic Monday' — the Monday before Christmas. On Panic Monday in 2016, sales on Facebook increased by 50% in the UK. People are leaving it really late and that Monday is becoming very important.

How can planners improve their Q4 results?

Traditionally, most media plans have a big burst when the TV ad launches, and then build smoothly up to Christmas. But moments are becoming more and more important. Christmas is getting more spiky. It's also crucial to understand the shape of Christmas for different audiences. Parents start earlier than non-parents; young people leave it until the last minute. Identifying the moments that matter by audience is really useful and can help advertisers in the battle for mental availability when it really matters.

What else can you tell us about an audience like parents?

Parents shop with their mobile even more than other audiences. When you have kids, it's hard to sit down at a laptop or go into a store. Mobile devices allow you to do stuff with one hand while you're watching children. 

What about planning post-Christmas?

Let's not forget the sales. For 18 to 24-year-olds, Boxing Day is the single biggest online sales day after Black Friday. Travel is huge in January — every year there's a major spike in travel conversions. Financial services are also big as people pay off debt and change credit cards. So there are plenty of reasons to be active in January. 

Why should planners be booking ahead on Facebook?

If you book your campaigns early, the unit price that you pay for media drops by 16.6%. So it's about 16% cheaper.

How can planners get the most out of their Facebook spend?

The biggest win is to build creative that works in Facebook's feed, rather than putting your TV ad on the platform. If you build for feed, you have the potential to double your return on investment. Facebook has the scale to warrant the extra time and effort to build bespoke creative — with 2 billion on the platform and 40 million in the UK — brands should be building creative for Facebook.

To understand more about developing an effective strategy for the small screen, and for a full week-by-week planning calendar, visit



Written by

Ian Edwards


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