Amazon's Black Friday Blunder | 2022 Holiday Ride Along

December 3, 2022
December 3, 2022

Intro

In this video, I'm going to tell you about the massive blunder that Amazon had on Black Friday a week ago and what the results were for me.

First, let's talk about Amazon's blunder. On Friday, at some point during the day, the Amazon advertising console stopped reporting the amount that you spent on ads for that day. However, they were still updating sales even after this happened, making it look like your ads were performing much much better than what they actually were. And on big sales days like Black Friday where there's a big change from one day to the next in buyer behavior, in sales performance, ads performance, how much you spend on ads, this couldn't have happened on a worst day of the year.

If it happened further into the sales season, we'd have more days that we could include in our date ranges that we're using to evaluate our campaign performance in order to make those bid and budget changes. However, on Black Friday, any data prior to that day isn't really relevant when evaluating that campaign performance with how big of a change there is in ad performance and the increase in ad spend starting that day. You're often needing to make on-the-fly adjustments to the bids and the budgets based on just that day's sales data. And while yes, there is a delay in Amazon's reporting and they even tell you at the bottom of the dashboard, that it's up to 12-hour delayed, ad spend has always been one of those metrics that's been pretty up to date all throughout the day. It's always been orders and the other metrics have had more of a delay than what your ad spend is.

So historically, your ad performance was generally slightly better than what the ad console displayed for that day's data as those orders got attributed to your campaigns. And there wasn't any reason to expect that it would be any different on this Black Friday. And it wasn't even until Sunday, two full days later, before that ad spend was updated and Amazon put a little banner at the top of the ad console acknowledging that they were aware of some issues with their reporting and also that none of your data was actually missing, but your ads were still delivering as expected. Thanks, Amazon.

Impact

So, what did that look like for me on Black Friday? I didn't take any screenshots or anything, so I'm just going to have to tell you about what happened and recounted events on by Friday. Throughout the entire day, my ads were performing absolutely gangbusters. At least based on the data that Amazon was displaying to me. So, as Amazon was telling me that I was running our budget on these campaigns that were performing super well, of course, I was increasing budget as that happened. This was probably the first mistake that I made throughout this whole incident. I did notice that Amazon was telling me that some of my campaigns were running out of budget, but the ad spend that showed they spent already wasn't really matching up with what those budgets were. But the performance on those campaigns was really good so of course, I raised them. The performance was good and I didn't want to miss out on any sales that could have happened if I didn't raise those budgets. I never suspected that the ad performance was anywhere near as far off as what it actually was from what ad console was telling me.

By the end of the day, ad console showed that I was running an 11% ACOS after a little over $500 in spend, which is much much better performance than I had been seeing leading up to Black Friday, but I just thought, you know, it's Black Friday and things are different, more shoppers and so forth. I didn't think it could possibly be anywhere near as bad as what it actually was. And at some point, during that day, towards the end of it, I actually made some pretty large bid adjustments to almost all my campaigns based on this crazy, awesome performance. I wanted to get a share of those sales with these higher bids. And why not? That's exactly what you should be doing when your ads are significantly under what your target ACOS is. In reality, I actually spent $2,000 in ads with an ACOS of 43%. Four times the reported spend in ACOS that they were telling me that day. The adjustments that I made that day then compounded the poor performance into the next day.

On Saturday, I wasn't checking my ads often enough to compare what it was telling me I spent on ads versus the actual sales performance that I could see in my Amazon account, how much I was actually making off the products I was selling. I tracked it pretty early on in the day, maybe a little too early, and the ad spend was a little high, but it wasn't anything too egregious but I didn't check it again until early evening on Saturday, and that was my second mistake.

I could have stopped the bleeding much earlier if I had just been paying closer attention to my ads. When I checked it again, I had actually spent more in ad spend than I had in profit which is not really where I want to be on Black Friday Cyber Monday weekend. I'm okay being really aggressive especially this early on in the holiday season to rank our products, to get more sales and profit later in the holiday sales season, but not at the expense of actually being profitable. And at this point, this is when I decrease bids significantly and just blanket across the board by about 40%. And this isn't really ideal because it's a blanket approach where you're making changes across all of your campaigns, the ones that did perform well and also the ones that didn't perform well, which means now I could be missing out on sales that would have happened with higher bids on the ones that were performing.

We’ll walk through how I fixed my bids and how you can too if you ever run into this or if this did affect you. But first of all, just jump in and take a look at the sales results from Black Friday and Saturday. On Black Friday, I sold 624 units with $3,249 in royalties, which is about a 50% year-over-year increase from what I saw last year in 2021.

Results

And jumping back to ad spend, I spent $2,000 on Black Friday.

So, with $3,200 in royalties, about $2,000 ad spend, I ended up with about $1,200 in profit. And if we take a quick look at the hero product, I sold 450 units out of that 623 so accounted for close to 75% of my sales with $2,300 in royalties just for that product.

And then on Saturday, I had a pretty big dip, a little bigger than I would have expected based on a couple of the previous years. But every year is a new year and I sold 306 units with $1,607 in royalties.

And then for ad spend, I spent $1,758 running at a 63% ACOS. Remember, I didn't catch those until way too late in the day so things ended up much worse than what they really should have.

So, with $1,600 made in profit and $1,758 spent in ads, I lost about $150, which I honestly can't remember the last time I lost money in a single day from my ads.

But make sure you check out the next video where I show you how I fix my ads from this Black Friday Blunder, which you can also use to reset your bids any time a major shift like that happens. And if you haven't already, make sure to like and subscribe. And I'll see you in the next video.