Retailers: This Holiday Season, Don’t Buy Ads, Buy Results

November 18, 2015 — by David Savelson

In one of my first jobs in marketing, a wise boss advised that I “start from the end.”  His point was that customers are buying a solution, not a product.

This advice has stuck with me in my career, and I believe that it applies to online advertising as well. Marketers shouldn’t just think of buying ad slots, they should think of buying results.

And there’s no greater need for results than in Q4. Think about it this way: Holiday shoppers want a specific product or gift, and they don’t care how it came to them, whether it was something they saw in-store, on social media or via a display ad. That’s the true beauty of right customer, right place, right time and right message—if you’re in sync with what your buyers need and want, it won’t even seem like advertising to them.

In the not-too-distant past, when marketers purchased media, they would typically buy spots on a particular publisher site or network of sites. If they were trying to reach men of a certain age and profile, that might include direct buys on The Robb Report, Sports Illustrated or ESPN.

Today, however, marketers are not limited by assumptions on where their ads end up. Nor are they limited to manual, non-programmatic, direct buys. Marketers today have insight into where the consumer browses, which impressions are most likely to move the consumer down the path to purchase and how much engagement at each touch point contributes to conversion. Marketers are now informed by data that tells them where customers engaged with their content prior to purchase, and that can provide insight into context.

For instance, during the holiday season, programmatic media buying allows advertisers to target cart abandonment with heightened conversion tactics and identify the best time and channels through which to increase engagement with promos and deals. As December 25th nears, advertisers can utilize sense-of-urgency messaging to drive these same cart abandoners to immediate purchase, and perhaps sweeten the deal with free or discounted shipping.

This holiday season, shoppers will leverage every available channel to research, consider and choose what they will buy. According to the National Retail Federation’s Holiday Consumer Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics, more shopping than ever (46.1%) will be conducted online this holiday season.

On their side, advertisers should plan to leverage programmatic media buying to drive results.  At each stage of the short holiday season buying cycle, it uses data to ensure the right offer is surfaced, whether it’s during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, December 24th or all the days in between.

It gives us the tools to start from the end, for consumers and advertisers.

Visit MediaMath Retail to learn more.

David Savelson

As Director of MediaMath’s Global Retail practice, David Savelson helps clients achieve online and offline business goals using programmatic advertising. Stretching across Asia Pacific and the US, David’s career has been about three passions – marketplaces, media and marketing. At FreeMarkets and later Shell, he ran real-time bidding operations. At the South China Morning Post, David oversaw a premium, digital publishing business. At OgilvyOne and retail display specialist Dotomi, he used data to optimize prospecting, retargeting and loyalty programs. These experiences all inform his client work at MediaMath. David grew up in Maryland and holds a BA in Political Science from Yale University. Once a baseball player, he is now just another stats-obsessed fan.