Written in collaboration with native advertising partner Sharethrough.
It’s beginning to look a bit like Christmas—at least at some stores. Not content to wait for Halloween, many retailers this year began putting up their holiday decorations before Labor Day. Christmas is closing in on summer!
The data shows they’re on to something. Some 8% of consumers begin making holiday purchases in September (and another 8% before that), according to the National Retail Federation. Even if they’re not yet purchasing, many shoppers are starting to research items in October, often browsing on their mobile devices. Keep reading to understand the top trends helping marketers capitalize on the evolving shopper journey across devices and the funnel to drive the most impact this Q4.
Not surprisingly, much of the spending we see in MediaMath’s platform is clustered around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and a lot of the action is occurring on mobile devices. According to MediaMath analysis of 2017 holiday campaigns across the globe, desktop and mobile traffic both spiked during those key days, but there were more uniques on mobile. A good strategy then is to go heavy on prospecting tactics on mobile and use desktop for remarketing where consumers are doing more shopping research. November is when both researching and purchasing spike (at 33% and 36%, respectively) according to NRF, but more people research in October (25%) than in December (11%).
When it comes to the type of ads, in-feed native ads should be on every marketer’s wish list. Some 70% of people use their phones to make purchase decisions during the holidays. In-feed native ads drive 29% higher purchase intent than standard banners. One ecommerce retailer saw a 79% jump in conversions with native compared to display strategies with identical targeting.
The good thing about native is it fits anywhere in the funnel and works for brand objectives ranging from raising awareness to driving conversions. Some 39% of consumers will search a brand online if they see it in a native ad headline. Marketers can purchase native directly in MediaMath’s platform workflow leveraging inventory from partners like Sharethrough.
Video can help you capture the emotions and attention of your target shoppers early in the awareness phase. You can follow up video branding campaigns with native, display and other formats to bring consumers down the funnel. Ideally, you can seamlessly integrate video creative alongside other ad formats for your holiday campaigns, reaching your audience with multiple ad formats to build brand storytelling and eventually lead consumers down the purchase funnel.
According to the native advertising specialists at Sharethrough, a few best practices for native creative will go a long way toward improving the story that your brand tells consumers. For instance, while you might assume that shorter headlines do better in this environment, headlines need to tell a story. “Thanksgiving Recipes” gets the point across, but is too generic to prompt anyone to click. But “10 Mouth-Watering Recipes That Everyone Will Love” all but dares you not to click.
Thumbnail images should also tell a story. Don’t just show a product—present a slice-of-life moment where the product is being used. For instance, a picture of a virtual reality headset is dull, but an image of someone engaged with the device as friends look on is more engaging. Finally, on a practical level, avoid using text in images because it might get cut off. If you must place text on images, then make sure the text is centered.
Make your list (and check it twice)
Since many consumers begin thinking about their gifts in October, leverage granular targeting based on real-time browsing when possible. It’s important to reach these consumers early because CPMs spike in December, when everyone else is trying to target the same consumers. The messaging a marketer employs to reach these consumers depends on the industry. CPG brands need to reach consumers when they’re in store, while jewelry retailers might use addressable TV to reach their target consumers.
This holiday season, marketers have an opportunity to use multiple touchpoints to reach consumers before they click “buy.” In addition to mobile, video and in-feed native, marketers can also employ audio and digital-out-of-home ads to influence target consumers on their list. The trick is to get started sooner than the competition when CPMs are lower and consumers are more open to messaging.