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Digital Marketing for the Holidays is All About Entertainment

  |  December 12, 2013   |  Comments

At a time when consumers are overwhelmed by banners and emails touting specials, discounts, free shipping, and Cyber Monday sales that go on for weeks, brands are betting on video and multimedia to cut through the ad clutter.

We're well into the 2013 shopping season and most holiday brand campaigns, so I'm prepared to call it: the best of this year's efforts focus on entertainment.

At a time when consumers are overwhelmed by banners and emails touting specials, discounts, free shipping, and Cyber Monday sales that go on for weeks, brands are betting on video and multimedia to cut through the ad clutter.

It's a savvy strategy. Video views and ad completion rates are on the rise. Seventy-five percent of agency executives say online video is "equally or more effective" than TV, while 90 percent say online video ads have greater impact than display ads. Digital content that aims to entertain is ideally suited to getting customers into the holiday spirit... and a great way to thank them for their business, too.

Delta CheerCart

Delta's new online ad brings the holiday fun with a musical number performed with the help of Delta employees and items from the airline's in-flight drink cart.  

"To say thanks for flying with us, we're giving out the gift of cheer," the brand wrote on its Facebook page. Considering the volume of holiday flyers the brand is sure to receive in the coming weeks, a video that entertains while giving the impression of a positive user experience was a clever choice.

The Gift: Levi's

A holiday video from Levi's aims to combine online entertainment with e-commerce. The Gift is a shoppable YouTube video that lets viewers buy the looks worn by the actors in the ad. Clothing items appear as thumbnails - pricing included - on the right side of the screen. When clicked, they take viewers straight to levi.com, where items can be purchased online.

This effort does a wonderful job of using atmosphere and imagery to underscore the brand experience and attract target customers. That there's no clear holiday theme goes to show that companies needn't compromise their style in order to deliver a campaign that serves a purpose during the holiday shopping season.

WestJet Christmas Miracle

Canadian airline WestJet took on an incredibly complex task this year when it endeavored to thank flyers for their business by giving some of its customers what they wanted most for Christmas. A two-way screen was set up in Canadian airports that allowed passengers to have a real-time conversation with Santa.

Because they had to scan their boarding passes in order to activate the screen, WestJet knew exactly who was wishing for what. While the passengers were in the air, en route to their destination, the airline's staff went shopping on Santa's behalf.

The results had some passengers in tears - no doubt some viewers, too, as the entire event was captured on video and is now up on YouTube. It has also been promoted on the WestJet blog as well as through an associated "Christmas Miracle" contest on Twitter.

Best Buy: Your Ultimate Holiday Showroom

Best Buy's star-studded holiday effort started on TV with a series of commercials featuring such actors as Jason Schwartzman, LL Cool J, and Maya Rudolph, but the spots are short and the entertainment value somewhat arrested. Not so online, where the ads become YouTube videos enhanced by exclusive behind the scenes clips.

Each video is accompanied by several celebrity outtakes, some funnier than the TV spots themselves. Their presence makes the campaign even more engaging and gives consumers a reason to spend time with the brand online. The campaign is being advertised with Promoted Tweets using the hashtag #UltimateShowroom, as well as with display ads.

Target's Best.Party.Ever

Last month Target launched a campaign to engage consumers on social media sites by inviting them to share their special traditions using the hashtag #MyKindofHoliday. To complement that campaign, the brand is doubling up on the entertainment with a YouTube video and holiday-themed Pinterest board. 

In the video, event planner David Stark points viewers to his Pinterest page Best.Party.Ever, where they have the chance to win a personalized inspiration pinboard. There's content enough for everyone, from photos to recipes and Spotify holiday playlists.

This notable shift toward holiday marketing content that provides value in the form of interest and amusement comes from the understanding that consumers are largely tuning out. Now more than ever they're assaulted by messaging offering all manner of "deals," to the point where their instinct is to turn away. Campaigns that aim to entertain stand a much better chance of reaching them - and sticking with them when it comes time to shop.

What better way to thank customers for another brand-loyal year than with year-end content they'll love?

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Tessa Wegert

Tessa Wegert is a business reporter and former media strategist specializing in digital. In addition to writing for ClickZ since 2002, she has contributed to such publications as USA Today, Marketing Magazine, Mashable, and The Globe and Mail. Tessa manages marketing and communications for Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy agencies servicing such brands as Bioré, Food Network, illy, and Hunter Douglas. She has been working in online media since 1999.

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