Black Friday ad scans, leaks, rumors…what?

Remember the olden days when Black Friday was wrapped around one day’s newspaper circulars. Even after Al Gore invented the Internet, you only had to keep your eyes peeled for early ad circular leaks posted by forum users of sites like FatWallet. Then came the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), bringing stiff penalties for copyright infringement via technology and the Internet.

DMCA? That sounds intense. Does that mean no more early ad circulars?

It is intense. FatWallet’s short history is wrought with major retailers, attorneys, and nastygrams all battling over Black Friday (cnet News: Wal-Mart backs away from DMCA claim), user rights and the DMCA. But we’re still bringing you Black Friday deals before November 26. Here’s your crib notes to common Black Friday terminology and the terms you’re reading on FatWallet:

Ad Scan: Internet user posts a scanned image of a pre-release Black Friday ad circular. The ad circular is considered copyrighted material. The hosting site is often served a “take down” notice and typically removes the scanned image file.

Ad Leak: Refers to the ad scan or the information within that scan. While the printed circular itself is copyrighted, knowledge of the information within it is not quite so clear-cut. Often, Internet users will catalog and post the sale items and corresponding prices from an ad circular in an ad leak (post).

Ad Rumor: As there is no resource to reference once an ad scan has been pulled, FatWallet refers to the posted items and their pricing as a rumor.

Early Black Friday ads: Building off the popularity of Black Friday, many retailers are officially releasing their early Black Friday sale ads prior to the Holiday and often launching their sales early as well.

Black Friday Deals Filter: Once a member posts an ad scan on FatWallet and they and their fellow community members extract the sale information into a Hot Deals topic, that information is then entered into the Black Friday Deals Filter database. Rather than surfing from deal topic to deal topic and scanning long lists, shoppers filter to the specific stores, products and product categories from one web tool.

Cyber Monday: The title given by in 2005 to the Monday following Thanksgiving and Black Friday. While it’s not the biggest online shopping day of the year, “comScore reported…Cyber Monday (excluding travel), the second highest spending day of 2009.” (Wikipedia). Retailers market Internet shopping deals in anticipation of increased web shopping, post Black Friday weekend.

Scans, leaks, rumors…buy or not?

So which early ad or ad leak is the lowest price? With sales starting so far in advance of the holiday, retailers may be avoiding an over-abundance of inventory, allowing prices to hold rather than drop as the end of the year approaches. A quick product search for deal discussions can help you establish a price history and judge today’s pricing. If history serves, you will find door buster deals on Black Friday, maybe not on the items you have on your list though. So buy now and hold off, maybe?

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