Oct 18 2022
Clare McKinley

Ask an Expert: Holiday Advertising Best Practices

Turbulence around holiday shopping appears to be the gift that keeps on giving. If last year’s Grinch was the supply chain, this year’s is the economy—and it’s making holiday shoppers rethink their budgets.

Wondering how consumer behavior will look different this holiday season, and want to know what advertisers can do to optimize their investments? Read on for some general holiday shopping insights, as well as industry-specific recommendations for automotive, higher education, CPG, and cannabis brands.

How will Economic Uncertainty Impact 2022 Holiday Shopping?

While the expected volume of holiday retail sales shows a 7% increase from 2021, some of that increase will be driven by inflation. In response to that inflation, shoppers have indicated that they plan to buy less this year, and 84% plan to reduce the cost of their purchases.

Unsurprisingly, price will be the main factor influencing buying decisions. That could come in the form of sticker price, coupon availability, perceived value, and/or the promise of free shipping, free returns, and low hassle. “Convenience,” “delivery speed” and “friend/family recommendations” are next up on the list behind “price,” and while friends and family are important in the decision process, shoppers will also rely on ads, websites, and social media to gain ideas and find sales and deals.

Consumers will also shop earlier this season: 37% of US consumers say they plan to start buying holiday gifts earlier than last year due to inflation concerns. That said, the five-day spree starting on Thanksgiving will still account for a fair chunk of holiday shopping, with 70% of shoppers saying they’ll have everything they need by Cyber Monday.

Online shopping continues to gobble up a bigger slice of the holiday pie, with holiday retail e-commerce sales expected to grow by 12% this year. But brick-and-mortar is still very much in the game—62% of last year’s Black Friday shopping happened in-store, and waning fears around COVID-19 are likely to lessen fears around in-person gathering.

With economic uncertainty coloring all aspects of the holiday shopping experience, it's more important than ever for marketers to test their messaging, see what is resonating with consumers, and then make data-informed decisions as they implement and optimize campaigns.

Industry-Specific Holiday Advertising Guidance

Automotive Holiday Advertising Best Practices

For decades, automotive consumers have been trained to take advantage of great offers from automotive brands around this time of year. As a result, there are more in-market auto shoppers during the holiday season.

Rising interest rates and the microchip shortage continue to put pressure on the industry, but there are differences from this time last year that should deliver more advertising investment: vehicle availability is improving, and new electric vehicle brands, models, and tech are fueling massive buzz for the industry as a whole.

To best connect with automotive consumers this holiday season, advertisers should take advantage of increased site visits with retargeting, using purchase intent data to build audience segments (since purchase intent signals are strong drivers for life stage changes and major purchases like auto), and tapping into the football season by targeting premium CTV sports inventory with PMPs.

- Jim Zabel | VP, Client Development - Auto

Higher Education Holiday Advertising Best Practices

While there may be temptation to lighten advertising spend during Q4 when rates are a little higher, higher education marketers should refrain from doing so because the holiday season is crucial for recruitment!

For prospective undergrads, many families have important conversations about their future over the holiday break. Plus, the target market for undergraduate campaigns is likely spending way more time on TikTok and CTV over the holidays, since they’re on a break from school and have more time on their hands. These channels are always good ways of meeting this audience when and where they are, but even more so over the holidays.

- Kara Klein | Director of Client & Media Services

CPG Holiday Advertising Best Practices

If you’re a CPG advertiser, you've been building brand awareness all year long, and now is the time to help those investments pay off by focusing your advertising efforts on driving to purchase. Digital shelf optimization and point of sale activation are musts, and when it comes to media efforts, brands should prioritize screens and channels that meet consumers when and where they’re in a purchase mindset. This could look like using QR codes on CTV, placing “Add to Cart” CTAs on display ads, tapping into e-commerce opportunities within TikTok or Meta and, of course, leveraging retail media networks and their point-of-sale capabilities.

And here’s a bonus tip for CPG challenger brands: Make your dollars work smarter by concentrating on less crowded spaces, where your message will stand out, and by utilizing platforms with first-party shopper data to identify high-value shoppers or lapsed purchasers. And for brands large and small, be mindful of distribution and make sure that if you have messaging in-market, you’ve also got ample product on your shelf.

- Ashley Thorn | Director, Client Development

Cannabis Holiday Advertising Best Practices

In a market that’s growing more and more saturated, cannabis and CBD brands would do well to take up some space this holiday season. Investing in increased holiday spend will allow brands to not only reach their typical audience, but also cast a wider net to reach consumers looking for that perfect gift—and/or for help mitigating holiday stress.

These audiences are not the typical cannabis customers, so competitors will be less likely to target them, allowing your brand to own the space. Complement these efforts with promotional codes to encourage users to try something new. Then, after the holiday season, be sure to retarget holiday shoppers with loyalty messaging and promotions to encourage repeat purchases.

- Jane Frye | Director, Client & Media Services

Want to stay on top of holiday advertising news and trends as the season develops? Then you’ll want to check out Basis Scout, our monthly roundup of top digital marketing content, to get all the latest delivered to your inbox each month!

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