The Sadness of Cyber Week

Yes, Media Guy Is Already Nostalgic for Black Friday

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Cyber Week (Cyber Monday wasn't enough?) has barely just begun, but already I'm feeling nostalgic for Black Friday.

I spent part of Black Friday's Eve (aka Thanksgiving) doing what I do every year: thumbing through the giant stack of Black Friday newspaper circulars that arrived with a thud on my mom's driveway in suburban Providence, Rhode Island. I'm pretty sure there was a local newspaper -- an inky news conveyance of some sort -- wrapped around the ads, but I remember nothing about it.

What I do remember is thinking that the meta-media business of Black Friday, wherein consumers gladly pay for the privilege of getting to look at a stack of colorful ads, is so much more fun than the ephemeral Cyber Monday / Cyber Week racket. Going through a stack of print circulars is somehow so much more rewarding than getting bombarded with "cyber" offers; print ads make the process of "discovery," as digital marketers put it, so much more tangible.

It's no wonder that "Consumers find out about Black Friday deals from newspapers almost twice as much as from social media," as Business Insider spun a new Deloitte study.

That may be why it's not so paradoxical that there seem to be more Cyber Monday and Cyber Week print circulars floating around this year. BlackFriday.com helpfully presents them all at BlackFriday.com/cyber-monday. For a high-concept good time, check out the digital replica of Amazon's print circular promoting its Cyber Monday Deals Week.

Of course, the very concept of Cyber Monday -- an arbitrary national day of online shopping -- is silly. Melissa Martin, a spokesperson for BlackFriday.com, tells me that while visits to its site on Cyber Monday keep growing every year, the Black Friday-ification of the holiday shopping season, with retailers announcing "doorbusters" earlier and earlier, means that consumers know they can find deals on their schedule. "Yes, we have a lot of traffic on Cyber Monday," she says, "but we also had December 1st show up last year as one of our big days, and December 16th too, for some reason."

She adds that "I think the consumers have spoken and said, 'Hey, listen, we don't want to kill ourselves [shopping] just one or two specific days.' And retailers have done a great job at giving them what they've asked for."

In other words, consumers have more control than ever, not to mention plenty of time left to Christmas shop, which is why we've all been getting Cyber Week sales pitches from retailers that sound borderline desperate.

Monday morning, for instance, I got an email at 7:19 a.m. from Kmart. The subject line read, "Hey, Simon ;-) Please don't ignore this... Save big at Cyber Monday!"

Yes, apparently Kmart is not only on a first-name basis with me, but thinks it can give me the ol' winky-smiley face as it invades my inbox.

Did I mention I'm nostalgic for Black Friday newspaper circulars?

Simon Dumenco, aka Media Guy, is an Ad Age editor-at-large. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.