Holiday marketing and advertising season is a challenge that may leave you wondering: why some of the brands reap enormous profits, while others struggling to stay afloat? During the holidays, your potential customers have more time to choose, inspect, and buy products and services.

At the same time, 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. Meanwhile, b2b campaigns require a more sophisticated approach that takes into account the subtle nuances of the holiday season behavior.

It’s time to explore how brands plan holiday advertising campaigns, whether the game worth the candles, and how b2b and b2c brands can adjust their creatives to elicit the highest ROI out of high demand.

When holiday marketing starts and ends?

October-December. Holiday sales represent more than 20% of all retail sales every year. Christmas holiday season brings in the greatest share of incomes 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.

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

January-February. In general, till the middle of January, Google still has high holiday season shopping searches compared to the rest of the year. For instance, people who live far away from their families 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 that 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.

holiday ads b2b Google Trends

March-April-May. St. Patrick’s Day yearly generates billions of dollars 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!

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 launch campaigns 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 without slow-downs.

Set up a DSP campaign 3 days before launch

Do you know what is programmatic advertising and what is a demand-side platform? If so, striking holiday campaigns 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 launch 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 of your product to make the difference. Finally, select ad formats that catch user attention easily:

  • 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 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.
  • Planning to advertise a mobile game? Then chose playable ads to drive 8 times more effective in-app experience.

playable ads example

  • In case you want your ad to imitate user-generated content, add 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 small push ad format, add your logo and launch a push ad campaign on DSP.

push ads example

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.

dayparting holiday campaign dsp

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 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.

daily budget holiday ads

Target customers near your shop

If your holiday campaigns 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.

holiday campaigns targeting dsp

Win customers back with retargeting

Since the holiday season is 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.

how retargeting works

In order to avoid one of the most common retargeting campaign pitfalls, adjust your messaging so that they can easily capture attention. Emphasize benefits, 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.

Analyze impact from your holiday campaigns

Launched native, push, or mobile campaigns specifically for the holiday period? Determine the goal - what 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 advertising campaigns taking into account this valuable data.

Key takeaways

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. Apply different creatives for your audience segments, target according to the chosen criteria, and convey messages effectively leveraging campaign optimization tools (budget, impression frequency, retargeting option, and more).

Register at SmartyAds DSP to elevate the impact of your holiday ad campaigns!

Written by
Irina Kovalenko, CMO of SmartyAds
January 2020