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November 17, 2023 - By Barron Rosborough

A Pre-Black Friday Hawke AI Snapshot: Web Traffic Surge & Engagement Puzzles

Understanding Site Dynamics: A Shift in Consumer Behavior As we approach the bustling period of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there’s a distinct shift in how consumers are interacting with brand websites. Data from this November reveals a noteworthy trend: site sessions have increased significantly compared to October, outpacing traditional seasonal patterns. This surge suggests that consumers are keenly interested in early deal scouting and browsing.

However, this increased interest comes with a twist. Engagement rates on these sites have dropped by 11% in November compared to October. This decline indicates that while more consumers are visiting sites, they’re also spending less time per visit. They seem to be checking out deals quickly and moving on, perhaps overwhelmed by the multitude of options or holding out for better offers.

This trend is further emphasized by a 7% decline in transaction rates despite the increase in browsing activity. This year, understanding and addressing consumer price sensitivity becomes a crucial challenge for brands. Strategies like robust remarketing, incentivizing return visits, and encouraging email subscriptions are more important than ever to capitalize on this browsing boom.

Paid Media: Adapting to a Changing Landscape Paid media spending is following its usual uptick around this time of year. In the first two weeks of November, brands have already spent over 60% of their total October budget. However, this spending spree comes in the context of an overall year-on-year decline in media spend, with a drop as steep as 17%.

Notably, there’s a shift in how brands allocate their media budgets. There’s a discernible move away from Google Ads towards paid social channels. This strategic pivot is likely a response to the substantial improvements in Click-Through Rates (CTR) and Cost Per Click (CPC) observed on Meta platforms, boasting a 22% and 11% improvement, respectively. These metrics underscore the efficacy of paid social as a top-of-funnel conversion investment. Additionally, the emergence of platforms like TikTok Shops could be influencing this trend, offering new avenues for engaging consumers.

Summary: Key Insights for Brands

  • Quick Visits, Less Engagement: Consumers are increasingly using websites for brief deal scouting, leading to lower engagement rates.
  • Shift in Spending: Despite traditional seasonal spending increases in paid media, there’s an overall decrease in year-on-year expenditure, with a notable shift towards paid social channels.
  • Effective Social Media: Platforms like Meta are showing positive engagement metrics, highlighting the potential of paid social channels in the current market.

As we gear up for the peak shopping season, these insights offer valuable guidance for brands looking to navigate the evolving consumer landscape effectively. Understanding and adapting to these trends will be key to maximizing the potential of the upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

At A Glance

  • Uptick in Site Sessions (November vs. October): Covered in the narrative, mentioning the increase in site sessions in November surpassing previous data.
  • Decrease in Engagement Rates (11% in November vs. October): Addressed, highlighting that visitors are quickly checking deals and leaving, leading to decreased engagement.
  • Transaction Rates Declining (7% decrease): Included, noting the decline in transactions despite the increase in browsing, and the challenge this poses in understanding price sensitivity.
  • Importance of Remarketing and Incentives for Return Visits: Discussed, emphasizing the value of remarketing and incentives for returning visitors or email subscriptions.

Paid Media Section: 5. Increased Spending in Early November (60% of October Budget): Addressed, stating that average brand spending in the first two weeks of November has been significant.

  • Year-on-Year Decline in Media Spend (up to 17%): Mentioned, noting the overall decline in media spend compared to the previous year.
  • Shift in Media Spend towards Paid Social Channels: Covered, with a particular focus on the shift from Google Ads to paid social channels.
  • Improvements in CTR and CPC on Meta: Included, highlighting the 22% improvement in CTR and 11% improvement in CPC on Meta.
  • Impact of TikTok Shops on Ads: Briefly touched upon, suggesting the potential influence of TikTok Shops on advertising trends.


  • Consumers Scouting Deals and Leaving Quickly: Summarized, capturing the trend of brief website visits for deal scouting.
  • Paid Media Spending as Expected, with Noted Changes: Summarized, indicating the expected spending pattern in paid media but with changes in allocation.
  • Good Engagement Metrics on Meta: Summarized, pointing out the positive engagement metrics observed on Meta platforms.