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Sep 13
Holiday marketing 2020

Preparing your holiday advertising in 2020

The 2020 holiday shopping season will look different compared to years past. However, it’s going to be more critical than ever for people to come together and share gifts with their loved ones.

Traditionally, marketers often look at last year’s holiday trends to understand how to plan this year’s holiday advertising campaigns. But looking to the past—like what happened during Black Friday 2019—won’t be enough to prepare for Holiday Season 2020. The spread of COVID-19 has drastically changed how consumers are shopping and engaging with brands.

As you start to prepare for your 2020 holiday advertising campaigns, we want to provide you with some insight on how people expect to celebrate and shop this holiday season. This should give you some practical tips that you can use for the upcoming 2020 holiday shopping season.

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State of the 2020 holiday shopping season

Consumer holiday shopping predictions

Digital advertising tactics for holiday campaigns

Practical tips to use in your holiday advertising campaigns


State of the 2020 holiday shopping season

The 2020 shopping season will be unlike any seasons we’ve seen in previous years. COVID-19 has changed how we live, shop, and communicate. Marketers and brands have seen the impact of shifting buying behaviors throughout the first half of 2020, and that will change how consumers prepare for the holiday season.

Growth of ecommerce
Many marketers experienced holiday-like traffic and sales through ecommerce channels in the first half of 2020. And going into the 2020 holiday season, the question remains, will it continue?

According to new research from Salesforce, 47 percent of consumers reported that they are more interested in shopping online, with 23 percent opting for mobile in-app shopping, and 32 percent invested in click-n-collect services.

As for the overall market, eMarketer predicts that there will be a 10.5 percent decline in total US retail sales this year during the holiday shopping season. It is also expected that there will be a 14 percent drop in brick-and-mortar sales due to social distancing measures that stores are taking during the holiday season. However, ecommerce is poised to grow 18 percent, following a 14.9 percent gain in 2019.

Mobile engagement 
While consumers might be spending more time at home, it doesn’t mean they aren’t engaged with their mobile devices. Consumers are highly engaged with technology, mostly Gen X and Boomers, whether it’s portable, connected tv, or messaging.

According to a recent report from Facebook, an average of 72 percent of Gen X and 50 percent of Boomers say they’re spending more time on mobile during the COVID-19 pandemic. While digital adoption had already been growing, the COVID-19 outbreak has accelerated this trend, particularly encouraging older generations to embrace ecommerce. On average, 85 percent of people globally are shopping online, averaging over 80 percent of Gen Xers and boomers.

What’s noteworthy is that of the surveyed Gen Xers and boomers who shop online, on average, 44 percent and 30 percent, respectively, said they are spending more time shopping online. And this trend will continue over the holiday season, with 43 percent of people surveyed saying they expect to shop online more frequently moving forward.


Consumer holiday shopping predictions

Earlier & Longer holiday season
This year’s holiday season will start early and last longer. It is rumored that Amazon Prime Day will now be happening in October, so we should see other brands jump on the bandwagon by putting together similar deals and promotions to capture consumer attention and dollars.

An October Amazon Prime Day could begin the “big deals season,” and start Black Friday shopping behavior much earlier. This could have a significant impact on the typical holiday shopping season by making Black Friday and Cyber Monday last for several weeks. If we know anything for the previous holiday shopping season, holiday buyers will be planning their shopping as the deals start dropping.

Black Friday crowds no more
With social distancing measures in place, large retailers like Walmart, Best Buy, and Target have announced that their stores will be closed on Thanksgiving and will limit their early-bird markdowns to prevent huge crowds. We should expect other retailers to do the same for Black Friday and rely more on their ecommerce sales.

2020 might be the year where we say goodbye to doorbuster deals and mad rushes for hot-ticket items and say hello to online discounts that start sooner and span a more extended period.


Digital advertising tactics for holiday campaigns

As you begin planning your digital advertising strategy for the 2020 holiday season, there are a few tactics that you should think about using.

Third-party data targeting
Understanding buying intent is going to be critical this holiday season. As the holidays approach at a rapid pace and competition rising, marketers need to ensure they are reaching the right audiences that will matter most to their businesses with messaging that will turn window shoppers into buyers. Here are a few third-party audiences that you can use in your upcoming holiday campaigns.

Third-party data segment Data CPM
Seasonal Shoppers and Spenders: Target seasonal shopping households with likely seasonal spend at the big box & club stores, children’s stores, luxury & standard department stores, and Consumer Electronics between Thanksgiving and Christmas. $1.50
Big Bakers: These baking enthusiasts love to spend their holidays preparing sweets in the kitchen. With family and friends to feed (and coworkers, too), now is the time of year to target this audience as they fill shopping carts filled with baking supplies. $1.50
Holiday Entertainers: It’s one of the most entertainment-heavy times of the year, so target party hosts this season as they show their love for entertaining in their menu planning, holiday decorating, and preparing delicious meals. $1.50
Winter Activity Enthusiasts: Let’s not leave out the slopes when considering the holidays! Whether skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing, drive results by targeting consumers who need apparel and equipment that prepare them for the elements this season. $2.00

Email advertising
Get in front of people that are in the market for holiday gifts, hosting holiday parties, or decorating their homes for the season. Your ads will appear alongside content focused on holiday gift guides, recipes, decorating, and entertaining. Email advertising, powered by LiveIntent, is a unique, unduplicated source for premium native and display advertising inventory. LiveIntent is the only supply vendor that can advertise within email newsletters from premium publishers like The Wall Street Journal, Target, Women’s Health, and more.

Connected TV
Powered by private marketplace deals, connected TV advertising brings the benefits of programmatic advertising to traditional TV advertising to reach highly-engaged audiences on their living room televisions.

Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, and the National Football League are all back. This means more and more people are going to be tuning in. The resumption of live sports likely will boost engagement and viewership, which could be a prime opportunity for brands to get their holiday message in front of this audience. Here are a few connected TV deals that provide inventory during sports programming.

Connected TV deal Floor price CPM
Fox (NFL Football) – US – Live NFL Football Games $70.35
AT&T TV NOW (NHL Hockey) – US – Live NHL Games (NBC Sports, USA Network $60.30
Barstool Sports – US – RON – All Devices including ConnectedTV CTV/OTT – Video $36.33
ESPN (Live Sports) – US – Live Sports RON – All Devices including Connected TV CTV/OTT – Video $50.26
Sling (NHL Hockey) – US – Live NHL Games (NBC Sports, NHL Network) – All Devices including ConnectedTV $56.28

But sports aren’t all of it. Consumers are highly engaged with across all connected TV platforms. As we begin to get into the holiday spirit, consumers will reach for classic holiday movies or even the Christmas flicks that run on the Lifetime or the Hallmark Channel.

Connected TV deal Floor price CPM
A&E – US – RON (A&E, History Channel, Lifetime, FYI) $48.25
Crown Media (Hallmark Channel) – US – RON – Full Episode Player (FEP) $28.16
Food Network (Discovery) – US – RON (SpotX) $44.23
ABC (Long Form Entertainment) – US – RON Long Form Entertainment $50.26
Hulu Originals – US – Hulu Originals – All Devices (Connected TV, Mobile, Desktop) $70.35
Amazon Fire Stick – US – RON Long Form Entertainment $70.46

Practical tips to use in your holiday advertising campaigns

Preparations & execution
With the holiday season fast approaching, now is the time to start planning and ramping up before it gets much busier. The holiday shopping season can be competitive for brands and marketers. Every marketer is trying to capture the attention of consumers. Even with the increase in traffic throughout the first half of 2020, we should see a significant increase in ecommerce activity in November and December. The increase in traffic means an increase in competition, which means bids and other performance metrics will rise.

Here are few general considerations for the season ahead. Remember to be agile and ready to make changes throughout the holiday season.

  • Do: Start your campaigns early to allow time for optimizations of CPMs. Taking a look at holiday campaign performance from previous years, we’ve seen an average of 35 percent to 50 percent increase in CPMs in Q4 across all industries. This year shouldn’t be any different.
  • Don’t: Be afraid to make changes to your campaigns throughout the holiday season. If the first half of 2020 has taught us anything, it is that strategies are meant to be changed. Digital advertising gives you the tools to make changes as the market shifts. Take advantage of it!
  • Try: Different channels and audiences this holiday season. As consumers increase engagement on mobile and connected TV, marketers should look to take advantage of these opportunities.

Creative & messaging
As you plan your seasonal campaigns, be sure to consider your creative presence. Shoppers are increasingly embracing digital channels, so the way you communicate your identity online is crucial, especially when advertising on a digital platform. Use your brand’s visual identity to stand out and be consistent: consistency builds trust, drives recognition, and differentiates you from your competition.

Here are few general considerations for the season ahead. Remember to adapt your tone and content to suit the times we live in.

  • Do: Consider the context when it comes to telling stories. Traditional social gatherings, shopping environments, and festivities may not be applicable in a COVID-19 world, but there are other creative ways to emphasize the festive spirit.
  • Don’t: Be afraid to celebrate, but do it sensitively. This is a time to uplift and inspire.
  • Try: Breaking tradition and exploring new territories. It’s a less conventional time, which creates the opportunity to refresh and design your own festive moment.

This year’s holiday season will feel different compared to years gone by. In light of everything that has happened throughout 2020, people will feel grateful for what they have and treasure time spent with family and friends. For this reason, the holidays will still be time to shop, gift, and celebrate.

As you plan your holiday advertising campaign, be sure to remember consumers’ new behaviors and how your tactics should be adjusted.

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About The Author

Megan Sullivan-Jenks is director of marketing & communications at Choozle – Easy Digital Advertising®. A self-proclaimed tinkerer, Megan's a problem solver for marketing and advertising strategies and execution. From nonprofits to consumer goods and software, she's an expert at creating online and offline marketing & communications strategies that are engaging and results-driven. Outside of the office, Megan rolls up her sleeves to enjoy all things DIY like sewing and woodworking.