A personalized, cross-channel advertising strategy is even more important when people start shopping for the holidays: With increased competition and consumers feeling the stress of the season, advertisers need precise placements and sharp creative to reach their target audiences. To curate impeccable user experiences during this critical time of year, marketers need a deep understanding of how to succeed on each of the channels they plan to leverage, as well as a savviness for how to use them together to create a holistic experience throughout the customer journey.
To help you succeed with both of these tall tasks, we called on seven Basis experts to share their top recommendations for holiday advertising on programmatic display, paid search, paid social, connected TV, audio, and digital out-of-home. Read on to learn everything you need to know about using these channels effectively in your holiday advertising campaigns:
Things change considerably in Q4 and especially around the holidays, so advertisers must expect the unexpected and come with fresh and engaging creative. The market becomes very saturated, so CPMs tend to increase, which in turn reduces your share of voice. To combat this, you ideally need two things: larger budgets, and new exciting creative with strong calls to action.
Tactic-wise, programmatic display pairs well with all other channels, regardless of your goals. For example, you could take your search keyword list and use it to generate a custom contextual tactic to really hone in on relevant content programmatically. Depending on your overall strategy, display can aid in general awareness that will boost site traffic and even organic site traffic over time. Programmatic channels can also help build retargeting pools quickly and aid in conversion-based campaigns.
Google is expected to roll out some new AI features this year, either pre-Q4 or during the holiday season, so that’s something to keep an eye on this year. This will be the first holiday season where advertisers can take full advantage of a lot of the new artificial intelligence features that have hit the marketplace in the past year, so that’s exciting. It’s important to start testing and learning about these new tools as soon as possible. You don't need to spend a lot of money—just testing and dabbling will be really useful in terms of learning how they operate.
Another thing to watch out for—with all channels, but particularly search—is a holiday shopping season that is going to start in August and September. With the chip shortage and shipping delays that marked holiday shopping in recent years, consumers are going to be researching and buying earlier to ensure they get their gifts on time. So budget-wise, it’s important to make sure you’re considering that timing. There’s a lot to be said for planting seeds earlier in the year given this shift in consumer mindset.
In terms of how it fits into an omnichannel campaign, search is always going to be a nice component of any mid- or upper-funnel approach. During the holiday time period, people are spending so much money on all channels that you want to be able to maximize the reach of your TV, radio, and programmatic buys with search and social. Trying to align your buys—even with something as granular as time of day—to curate experiences is a great way to achieve that. For example: Let’s say you're watching a TV show at 8pm and you see a certain brand’s commercial, then you do a search and see that same brand, and then you go to Facebook and see that same brand. Those are the kind of seamless experiences advertisers should be going for—meeting consumers when and where they are engaged.
Social feeds are cluttered with ads and promotions in Q4, which can lead to users feeling inundated. It’s important to ensure that your ads feel authentic to the platform and relevant to your target audience. For example (and this is relevant regardless of the time of year), advertisers have to be cautious when it comes to repurposing creative content for paid social ads. Sometimes it can work, but other times it’s clear that the brand has repurposed creative from another channel or medium and it doesn’t translate as well or feel as authentic to the social platform, which can negatively impact performance.
TikTok has made a big push into the e-commerce space, with products like Video Shopping Ads (currently in beta), in addition to integrations with third-party shopping partners such as Shopify. It’s estimated that TikTok will gain just under 10 million social buyers in 2023, so there’s a lot of opportunity for brands to tap into these users that are engaged and open to making a purchase. 82% of TikTok users say they’ve discovered a small or medium business on the social platform before seeing them elsewhere, so TikTok continues to be a strong channel for garnering awareness and engagement and pushing users through the funnel throughout the customer journey. Brands should pair paid and organic content on the platform to stay top of mind with users.
It’s also important for advertisers to diversify their budget and strategies across social platforms. Advertisers shouldn’t put all of their eggs into one basket (i.e., social platform), and should instead leverage several social platforms to create a full-funnel, multi-platform social strategy.
Finally, as important as Q4 is to many businesses, advertisers should be sure to keep “Q5” in mind. While Q4 brings increased competition and rates, the rates typically drop significantly in Q5, the post-holiday timeframe. Advertisers should plan to remain active in the period between Christmas Day and into the beginning of January in order to capitalize on promoting post-holiday sales and taking advantage of more efficient CPMs.
As connected TV continues to grow in popularity—not only among consumers but also among advertisers—brands have to be aware of greater competition and, consequently, higher prices on the channel, and that will be especially true over the holidays.
Knowing how expensive it is to run CTV over the holidays, it’s important to make sure you’re putting your advertisements where they’re going to resonate the most with your audience. So to maximize the efficiency of your CTV spend, I’d recommend leveraging contextual targeting—and, specifically, using segments that are specific to the medium.
Also, make sure to diversify your inventory. So many people are advertising in the run up to the holiday season that a lot of PMPs will have remnant inventory. Hulu, for example, totally sells out, so if you were to put all your eggs in the Hulu basket, you’re not going to be in a good position. That’s why it’s important to leverage multiple inventory sources and multiple PMPs during Q4.
The last thing I’d recommend is leveraging QR codes in your ad creative to help bring audiences to your brand’s website. It’s a great way to get more users from the awareness stage to consideration.
With more consumers on the road, in the air, and taking time off to spend with family and friends over the holidays, audio is a great way to stay connected and in the ear of your target consumer, wherever they may be.
Ratings and listenership increase across all forms of audio during this time of year, podcasts included. Podcasts are continuing to see steady growth and gains in popularity, so keep them on your radar as you begin building plans for the 2023 holiday season. Research shows that digital audio ads are actually the most under-invested media used when compared to consumer time spent versus the share of ad spending received, so that presents a huge opportunity for brands.
With a large majority of the US adult population still tuning into terrestrial radio, streaming can serve as a great complement to its traditional counterpart by extending reach across the market and helping to build brand awareness. If budgets are tight, know that audio tends to be one of the more cost-efficient options to activate as well as to produce. If you’re looking to add audio into your plans, pairing it with a visual medium to help bring your brand story full circle would be wise.
As one of the digital advertising industry’s fastest-growing channels, DOOH would be a savvy addition to any omnichannel holiday campaign.
When it comes to leveraging DOOH around the holidays, best practices include:
And don’t overlook the power of creative! Our partners at VISTAR shared that, with advertisers now increasingly able to measure a DOOH campaign’s impact on site traffic and conversion, there’s a big opportunity to use that measurement data to optimize creative messaging. Lean into data-driven creative like dynamic creative or anamorphic creative to make a bigger splash this holiday season.
As marketers know all too well, there’s a whole lot that goes into planning for holiday advertising campaigns (when on Earth are we supposed to do our own holiday shopping?!) If you’re looking for an easy way to make sure you’ve covered all your bases, check out our holiday advertising checklist!