TUNE sees billions of ad events every single month. Billions of app installs, and billions of both brand and performance ads. Recently, we saw that m-commerce ads on mobile jumped a staggering 9X.

The occasion was Cyber Monday.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday, of course, are two of the premier shopping days in the U.S. We studied 700 million mobile ads on those days and on recent average Fridays and Mondays and discovered some interesting things about what marketers are doing to win on holidays, vacations, and other special occasions, such as Super Bowls.

The first is flooding the market.

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While Black Friday was big – think 5X normal – on Cyber Monday, marketers opened the floodgates for commerce ads, flooding mobile apps and the mobile web with almost 9X more commerce ads than usual … no less than 800% the standard flow.

That, as you might imagine, had an impact on click-through rates.

Though in general ad volume was up 200% over the holiday weekend, consumers only clicked on about 20% more ads than typical Fridays and Mondays, showing that although more effort often does get you more result, the two are not necessarily proportional.

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The challenge for marketers at busy holidays times requires much more sophistication than simply throwing more dollars at the wall. The challenge is crafting messages that resonate with your specific core audience.

That’s exactly what outdoor gear retailer REI tried to do with its anti-shopping campaign … and succeeded.

REI, of course, had promoted the #optoutside hashtag and movement – almost a mini buy-nothing-day – and closed its doors on Black Friday. While the company was likely singing to the favorite songsheet of its healthy, outdoors-loving, back-to-nature demographic, the campaign also got wide pick-up in the press: Google returns about 540,000 results for the tag, and REI says that about 1.4 million people opted in (so to speak).

Why?

The message resonated with REI’s brand. I asked branding expert David Aaker about branding at particularly noisy times, and the answer shows how investing in your brand at all times helps you even more at those specific days:

“In this world of cluttered communication driven by fast changing and fragmented media vehicles, brand is more important than ever. It provides stable credibility and a base-line associations onto which to build.”

– David Aaker, Vice-Chairman, Prophet

That particularly important in mobile, with many young and startup companies that don’t have established brands competing for mind and market share against each other, and the old guard.

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Planning and working ahead – on branding and on campaigns to get your customers to install your app – is never of more value than in the busiest, noisiest, and most challenging marketing conditions.

The full report is available here.

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John Koetsier
As Mobile Economist at TUNE, I forecast and analyze trends affecting the mobile ecosystem. I've been a journalist, analyst, and corporate executive, and have chronicled the rise of the mobile economy. Before joining TUNE, I built the VB Insight research team at VentureBeat and managed teams creating software for partners like Intel and Disney. In addition, I've led technical teams, built social sites and mobile apps, and consulted on mobile, social, and IoT. In 2014, I was named to Folio's top 100 of the media industry's "most innovative entrepreneurs and market shaker-uppers.” I live in British Columbia, Canada with my family, where I coach baseball and hockey, though not at the same time.