Black Friday in Europe: A Case Study


For retailers advertising to European markets with Google Shopping, this year’s Black Friday was a dynamic one – not only because the US-born Black Friday hype is now experiencing staggering year-over-year growth in Europe, but also because the presence of comparison shopping services (CSS) brought new uncertainties to this year’s seasonal shopping boom.

For merchants advertising on Google Shopping, Black Friday 2018 required double the effort as they needed to serve both their Google Shopping Europe (GSE) and their CSS campaigns.




As this chart derived from Google Trends data demonstrates, search interest in Black Friday has increased significantly in the US during the ecommerce era, but still shows linear growth (which has sometimes flattened and decreased). However, in newer “non-traditional” Black Friday markets like Germany, search interest is exhibiting strong exponential growth. For online shops, this extreme change is both an opportunity and a challenge: campaign structures and strategies must be resilient and adaptable to capture the maximum number of consumers while also remaining profitable. Automation is more or less necessary to deliver bidding at this kind of scale.


Wardow: a top shop facing complexity and competition is a prestigious online retailer — selling bags, backpacks, suitcases and accessories across 12 countries. Based in Potsdam, this savvy online pure player has established significant brand power in Europe over the course of 12 years with the help of Google Shopping and other PPC channels. Plus, they now participate in the Google shopping auction using CSS campaigns in addition to standard GSE campaigns, which means more brand exposure than ever as well as access to discounted CPCs.

However, even for top-notch paid search professionals like the Wardow team, managing such a high number of target countries with a twofold GSE and CSS approach requires a lot of resources, and the complexity of this disrupted auction environment can be a real challenge. Moreover, competitors make it quite unpredictable what will happen during this very special long weekend – stretching from Black Friday through Cyber Monday – because Wardow sells goods from well-known brands like Samsonite, Kapten & Son, FjällRäven, DKNY, and dozens more. Why? While these are all distinguished brands, their products nevertheless become commoditized (in other words, highly comparable) across different webshops, where price becomes one of the most important factors in the consumer’s buying decision.

To manage these numerous strategic and tactical challenges, automation is key to enhancing the capabilities of the paid search marketers.


Advanced PPC management with custom labels


Wardow devised a powerful metric integrated within a custom label, where they collect and formulate data like profitability and return rate per article and then cluster the output into ten different “business values” (as they call this clever metric). For Black Friday, they created another custom label for all items with discounts. Together, those two labels built the basis for Advanced Bid Strategies (ABS) within Whoop!, as we combined the business values and the on-sale items into ten different ABS.

Those ten ABS were then set up for all target countries and device campaign splits. Meanwhile, Whoop!’s Bid Sync feature was active in Wardow’s CSS campaigns, so the bids were cloned from the normal Google Shopping Account affected by the ABS to the CSS campaigns.


A short history of Wardow and smec:

  • In February 2018, Wardow began optimizing their Google Shopping account with Whoop!
  • By June 2018, Wardow was managing all 12 target countries using Whoop!
  • Beginning September 2018, CSS campaigns were launched in all target countries. In that close cooperation with Jonas Engler, Online Marketing Manager at Wardow, our Customer Success Managers discussed possible strategies for the most important weekend of the year.


During their Black Friday sales, Wardow strategically adjusted those ABS so that Whoop!’s bidding algorithm would behave more and more aggressively while still being loyal to the goals set for each ABS. In this way the Wardow team fine-tuned their campaigns for maximum performance.


Bidding with Advanced Bid Strategies – does it work?


Spoiler: Yes! Especially if the data feed is well-prepared and the user makes the most of Whoop!’s features and knows the account and market vertical like the back of their own hand.




If we compare Wardow’s 2017 and 2018 numbers for revenue and ROAS during the core days around Black Friday, the relative increase in revenue averaging +49% is outstanding – especially because this growth was highly profitable, with their ROAS outperforming last year’s Black Friday results by an average of +14%.

Considering that, besides Wardow, many other Merchants in that industry offered discounts and the fact that many CSS are entering the auction, that success is even more rewarding.

If you are interested in Advanced Bid Strategies, Device Campaign Splits and Bid Sync for your Google Shopping and CSS campaigns, get in touch with us today. We are eager to help you to manage your campaigns in a holistic way and prepare your campaigns for the next season together with our Customer Success Managers.