Advertising 7 Min Read

Start Planning for the Holiday Ad Season: It’s Going to Be a Big One

Written by Tim Edmundson

2020 has been a wild ride to say the least—and it’s not even over yet. Thanks to a decade’s worth of news events packed into 8 months, it’s been an unprecedented year for marketers. So it’s only fitting that the upcoming holiday shopping season will be one for the ages as well. 

That’s because the pandemic has not only impacted how we live, but also how we shop. According to a survey conducted by Radial, 66% of shoppers report they’ll spend more online this holiday season. And shoppers haven’t waited for the holidays to start spending more on ecommerce—shopping levels during the first wave of COVID-19 (April and May) were higher than the peak of the 2019 holiday shopping season (November to December). Needless to say, this holiday shopping season is going to be a big one. 

If you’re wondering if it’s too early to start planning for the holiday ad campaign season—stop. You need to be sure you’re ready to hit the ground running. You don’t want to be planning come October, you want to be executing. To help you get in the mood for some holiday campaign planning, let’s dive into the enormous opportunity, and what you can do to make the most of it. 

Ready to start planning your holiday campaign strategy? SteelHouse can help – request a demo today.

Focus Your Creative on Direct-Response

Last year’s holiday season showed massive growth for online shopping. Retail ecommerce growth outpaced brick-and-mortar by 5X last holiday season (brick-and-mortar accounted for more total business), and with this year’s increased online buying that number should surge even higher. 

Your ad strategy should take on a direct-response element to tap into the rising trend in online conversions. People will be buying online, so tell your audience they can (and should) buy with you. Your ad creative should be clear in its intentions; give your ads a clear CTA that prompts shoppers to take action, visit your site, and convert. There’s a higher chance of grabbing an online conversion now than in any year prior, so make it as easy as possible for shoppers to do exactly that. 

Of course the holiday shopping season brings out a lot of deal-seekers (especially around Black Friday and Cyber Monday), so be sure you’re highlighting any promotions or deals you have on offer that will tip the scales in your favor. By letting shoppers know exactly where they can go online to get a great deal, you’re making their shopping experience a lot easier—and can earn yourself conversions in the process. 

Use a Full-Funnel Approach

With the uptick in online shopping, there are going to be a lot of shoppers that may not be necessarily familiar with your brand. That doesn’t mean they won’t buy from you—in fact, 54% of Black Friday shoppers reported that they bought from brands they had never purchased from before. 

But they won’t buy from you if they don’t know you exist. That means you need to engage them across the entire sales funnel, all the way from awareness to the point of sale. You can approach this in two overarching stages: get new users to your site to convert, and if they don’t decide to buy right then, bring them back later to make their purchase.

Drive New, Highly Qualified Site Traffic

To drive new users to your site, we recommend tapping into Connected TV (CTV) as an ad channel. Much like ecommerce, CTV has seen an immense surge in adoption in 2020; viewership has risen 81% year-year-over. Advertisers using SteelHouse Performance TV (our CTV ad solution) have found it to be an effective way of driving highly-qualified site traffic to their sites.

Because it leverages audience-based targeting with data sourced from the Oracle Data Cloud, advertisers can target tens of thousands of audience segments based on interest, demographic, geographic, and more—and combine them all with “in-market” qualifiers to ensure they’re reaching shoppers who are looking to buy. This method of targeting helps ensure the audience is likely to visit (and convert). But what if they don’t buy immediately? 

Bring them Back to Convert

That’s when retargeting comes into play. These campaigns target shoppers who have visited your site but failed to make a purchase. You have an advantage when targeting these types of shoppers vs. those new to your brand; you know they’re interested in your offering, it’s just a matter of figuring out the right way to get them to pull the trigger. This plays right into a direct-response marketing strategy.

With dynamic display retargeting ads (available, coincidentally, with SteelHouse) you can feature items in your product catalog that a shopper previously viewed on your site. You can also escalate your offers for these types of shoppers. You might not want to offer a particular deal for just anyone off the street, but if you think you can drive a sale with a sweeter deal, this is the audience to offer it to. 

And you’re not limited to just display retargeting; SteelHouse Performance TV also offers retargeting via CTV. With a combination of HD video ads served on premium streaming content via television, and dynamic display ads that showcase your product catalog on web and mobile, you create an immersive ad experience that engages shoppers across multiple channels and devices. Advertisers’ Performance TV retargeting campaigns have seen better performance vs. just running display retargeting alone, and we highly recommend tapping into the power of CTV to help convince your site visitors to come back and convert. 

Plan for Cross-Device Journeys

If you aren’t able to accurately target and track shoppers as they bounce from device to device, you’re going to be left behind this holiday season. 

Even though many people are stuck at home, that doesn’t mean they’re sticking with just one digital device. According to research conducted by Contevo, 61% of shoppers who start on a mobile device hop to desktop to convert. What’s more, mobile conversions have actually increased during the pandemic; mobile conversions saw a 10% uptick post-pandemic vs. pre-pandemic. 

Most important of all, you can’t tap into the huge opportunity on Connected TV without reliable cross-device measurement. SteelHouse advertisers utilize Cross-Device Verified Visits, which is our proprietary technology that measures any user visits to your site following the guaranteed in-view display of your ads, in a window of time defined by you. That means you’ll know when someone sees your ad to completion, and what device they use to convert—whether it’s mobile, desktop, or tablet. 

Seize This Year’s Opportunity

More people will be shopping online this holiday season than ever before. Thankfully, with proper planning and the right media mix you can make the most of the opportunity.

Looking for more holiday campaign guidance? We’ll be launching our full holiday guide in the coming weeks. It’s full of stats, strategies, and insights that will help you make the most of the holiday shopping season.