Holiday marketing and advertising season is more challenging than the entire year: why do some brands reap enormous profits, while others struggle to get commercial success?
There are many variabilities that influence the success of holiday marketing strategies. Everything related to B2C services, especially entertainment and retail, may experience a blast, even if it's not a shop specifically specialized in holiday gifts or event organization.
So, how should marketers or the agency adjust holiday commercials so that they could nourish meaningful relationships with different audiences across the world?
When holiday marketing starts and ends?
Holiday sales represent more than 20% of all retail sales every year. Christmas holiday season brings in the greatest share of income to retail brands as during this time consumers typically spend over $1000 on average according to the stats. The season is typically opened by Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday.
Despite the fact that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the days when retail businesses attract the greatest number of customers, shopping demand still peaks in November and December. In some regions, however, the shopping season may start a week later.
Best time for holiday commercials
The following table shows when people celebrate the holidays and start shopping (across the globe).
|When does holiday shopping traffic rise?|
|Industry||United States||Canada||United Kingdom||Australia|
|Apparel||Oct week 1||Oct week 3||Oct week 1||Oct week 3|
|Computers||Oct week 1||Nov week 1||Oct week 1||Oct week 1|
|Electronics||Oct week 4||Oct week 1||Oct week 1||Oct week 1|
|Food & Groceries||Nov week 1||Oct week 4||Oct week 1||Oct week 1|
|Hobbies & Leisure||Nov week 1||Nov week 1||Oct week 3||Oct week 1|
|Home & Garden||Nov week 1||Oct week 4||Oct week 1||Oct week 2|
|Appliances||Oct week 4||Oct week 1||Oct week 1||Oct week 1|
|Furniture||Nov week 1||Oct week 3||Oct week 1||Oct week 1|
|Jewelry||Oct week 2||Oct week 4||Oct week 1||Oct week 1|
|Sports & Fitness Apparel||Oct week 1||Oct week 3||Oct week 1||Oct week 2|
|Toys & Games||Oct week 1||Oct week 4||Oct week 1||Oct week 2|
|All retail||Nov week 1||Oct week 4||Oct week 1||Oct week 3|
In general, till the middle of January, Google still has high holiday season shopping searches compared to the rest of the year. For instance, if the person lives far away from their family, they may catch up with new year gifts a little bit later.
By the end of January, many industries enter hibernation until February's Valentine's Day and Super Bowl which generates $15.3 billion in the U.S. yearly (1 in 10 TV purchasings in the U.S. happens during a Super Bowl).
In B2B segments, demand may be either slightly increasing or decreasing according to the industry. Business owners usually make plans for next year and therefore pay interest in B2B products or services as well. It is easy to understand this when you inspect the dynamics of demand in certain industries, e.g, using Google Trends.
St. Patrick's Day yearly generates billions of dollars in spending in March. Electronics, gift cards, and apparel purchases are most popular in May (graduation period). Shopping for holiday-related items then peaks on Easter, when 27% of shoppers also buy presents online.
Good news, there are a great number of secret holiday campaign tricks that will help you adjust your advertising so that it boosts your creatives and provides an unforgettable user experience. Ready? Then let's get started!
Think through the creative
Your creative can highlight the holiday spirit and sense of magic, especially if it comes to Christmas eve that's celebrated around the world. Some festivities we celebrate with friends, some with loved ones, others with kids, or surrounded by family or neighbors.
Thus, the holiday cheer and the spirit of holidays can be translated through different marketing approaches. Here are some of the people's favorite holiday ads:
John Lewis Christmas eve ad
John Lewis (British department store) Christmas advert created a great example of a family-oriented ad. Instead of featuring Santa and Christmas cliches, the video demonstrates that the greatest gift for people all around the world is family.
John Lewis advert features a man awkwardly learning to skateboard. The story with a song in the background unfolds to show us that he is doing it because the young girl he is going to adopt is an avid lover of skateboarding.
Disney Christmas advert
This Christmas advert highlights the magic of family love instead of involving tricks with Santa as well.
The story features a pregnant young woman, and her children — a young boy, and a girl who is struggling to adjust to the changing family dynamics. The commercial shows how a kid is always ready to share their gift with loved ones.
Coca-Cola: Christmas with neighbors
Of course, Coca-Cola Christmas ads traditionally included Santa, the North Pole, and a beautiful Christmas song. For the first time, Coca-Cola created a story with a theme describing how fun and joy are found in togetherness.
The video starts with a young boy being sad that his apartment building lacks a chimney as it is a Christmas attribute. The neighbors of this boy combine their cardboard boxes and create an alternative contraption so everyone can have joy.
Kindness as a gift for Christmas (Amazon)
Little acts of love and care can do a lot for our mental health as this commercial shows. In the video advert, a neighbor buys a gift in an online marketplace (Amazon) and gives it to a woman who suffers from pandemic isolation.
Heathrow Bears Christmas ad
Heathrow Bears are back with a great Christmas advert. Famous Heathrow Airport marketers created a touching story about bears' loving romance. This Christmas commercial shows what role the airport had in the romance of bears as their family grows with children and grandchildren onboard.
Schedule 2 weeks for holiday advertising campaign planning
These days people search for holiday gifts and presents everywhere, not only online or at brick-and-mortar shops but also on social media, and directly on websites.
Therefore, it is recommended to start two to three weeks before the holiday season in order to persuade users to make purchases from you using, for instance, brand awareness programmatic campaigns.
Before the campaign launch, it will be a good practice to design holiday-themed landings and verify that your website is fully prepared to handle increased traffic.
Set up a DSP campaign 3 days before the launch
Do you know what is programmatic advertising and what is a demand-side platform? If so, striking holiday ads should be a familiar thing to you. If not, remember that in order to create an ad campaign on DSP you need to create an ad unit beforehand and submit it for moderation.
Make sure the content and resolution of your ad are in compliance with DSP policies because correction and re-moderation, especially during high demand in the pre-festive period may take more than several hours.
Get your campaign ready 3 days before the start and you will have time to fix the shortcomings.
Choose impactful advertising formats
Granted the fact that your holiday ads may potentially compete with thousands of competitors who sell similar products, you need to make sure that chosen creative really stands out.
Don't use generic images, better opt for genuine unique images during the holidays (especially for Christmas and Halloween online shopping). Select ad formats that catch user attention:
Think about how you can differentiate your creatives from others — fit a lower price with a discount right into the banner ad formats you use.
In case a product or service requires in-deep demonstration opt for video ad formats that may help you convey holiday-themed commercials as Coca-Cola does. Plus, you can repurpose the same video creatives to market your business on social media.
Don't forget that a lot of your customers will purchase using smartphones, so it is essential to adapt your creatives to mobile devices using mobile ad formats.
In case you want your ad to imitate user-generated content, add an entertainment component, or tell your holiday brand story using native ad formats: in-feed ad recommendation widgets and more.
Prepare special holiday treats and discounts for your mobile audiences using rewarded video ad formats.
In case you have no time for a long creative design but your holiday offer is on fire, select a native ad format and run a programmatic ad.
Use dayparting and set a daily budget
Before launching holiday ads try to determine your target audience persona in order to address your potential customers more accurately.
Divide your audiences into segments and determine which ones will receive special offers during the holiday season.
Programmatic demand-side platform is an irreplaceable tool that will enable you to diversify ad messages for every segment and adjust them according to selected preferences.
For instance, if your customers live in the UTC Western Europe zone, you can set up a dayparting so that people see your ads only during the early evening hours when they make purchases most actively.
In the impressions section, you can configure how often you show ads to your customers during the day. Daily impressions set to 3 will mean that one user will watch your ad 3 times per day.
In the same way, on SmartyAds DSP you can configure the advertising budget and set the limit of money spent on a campaign per day (in dollars).
According to Forbes, advertisers, especially those who work in retail, tend to spend on holiday advertising almost twice as much as they regularly spend on campaigns during the year.
Thus, it is recommended to slightly increase your ad budgets during this period in order to serve a sufficient number of impressions.
Target the audience near your shop
If your holiday commercials are tied to a specific location, try to reach users who are staying nearby. Geo-targeting allows you to show ads specifically to people who approach your store, as close as 100 meters and closer (with GPS targeting).
For instance, if your shop with holiday gifts is located next to the business center, target people within a couple of kilometers. You will reach employees of the business center and people who live nearby. This way, you will reduce advertising costs on programmatic DSP and increase the effectiveness of impressions.
Win customers back with retargeting
Since the holidays span a short-term period, you need to motivate potential customers to quickly make purchasing decisions.
In case you've already run brand awareness campaigns in the past or you just want to return customers who didn't convert last time, use a DSP retargeting feature. Likewise, in case you have targeted users on a desktop in the past, you can apply mobile retargeting.
In order to avoid one of the most common retargeting campaign pitfalls, adjust your messaging so that it can easily capture attention.
Emphasize benefits, and promote special offers. Show the reduced price in the ad and the date when it expires. Use a call to action so that people could know what's their next step if they want to purchase from you.
Launched native, push, or mobile ads specifically for the holiday period? Determine the goal — what do you want to get out of this holiday campaign: increased traffic, impressions, clicks, or reduced spend?
Within SmartyAds demand-side platform you can generate reports in real time, selecting performance indicators according to your objectives: profit, CTR, eCPM, clicks, impressions, spend, conversions, and more.
Be sure to review campaign performance at least once a week during the holidays. Knowing which channels/formats/traffic types work best for your business you can alter campaign flow or plan your next ads taking into account this valuable data.
The holiday season is a perfect time to boost an advertising campaign no matter what you are trying to promote: gift cards or restaurant equipment for businesses.
Advertising tools like SmartyAds demand-side platform support the most engaging and impactful formats of holiday ads that drive outstanding user experience and thus enhanced advertising ROI for the agency or a marketer.
Register at SmartyAds DSP to elevate the impact of your holiday ads!
Irina Kovalenko, CMO of SmartyAds