De-Averaging Moms: How Automation Can Help Brands Compete for Mother’s Day Dollars


We’re a group that is incredibly diverse in our profiles, interests, and wants. Yet despite that diversity, we’re often defined in pretty monolithic terms in the commercial sector, where we’re frequently described in terms of our relationships with and duties to our children, leaving the rest of our multivalent selves well out of focus.


Image via Rubicon Project.

What Moms Want

That includes the parts of ourselves that like to receive gifts. Mother’s Day is just shy of a month away, and with Easter behind us, advertisers are gearing up to pitch consumers gifts to buy for the mothers in their lives. In the past, the categories that have been among the most advertised – and the ones that have subsequently been most purchased – are flowers, greeting cards, and restaurant meals, according to a 2014 report by the National Retail Federation.

Yet consumer research reveals that while these gifts are popular with many mothers, they’re not the only gifts moms are pining for. Bing Ads recently published a study that revealed moms want gifts that make their lives easier and address their overall interests, including 80 percent who put consumer electronics on their lists. Another report stated that in 2013 that for mothers of young children, time off was the most-desired gift, leaving an opening for gift-givers to purchase products and experiences that enhance that time.

Competing for the Mother’s Day Dollar

Advertising automation and programmatic buying can put a broader array of potential Mother’s Day gifts in front of shoppers who might need some inspiration, giving brands that fall outside of the big three Mother’s Day gift categories an opportunity to compete for the Mother’s Day dollar, and perhaps even to grow the Mother’s Day gift-giving pie.

Although Mother’s Day is less than a month away, it’s not too late for those brands to get in the game. Here are some ways for them to do it.

1. Create an Awareness Campaign

Digital has become the virtual frontier for window shopping, making targeted awareness a critical aspect of driving consumer demand, especially in a Mother’s Day gift-giving scenario where consumers might be casting about for ideas for what to buy.

Running awareness campaigns is a great way to seed initial gift ideas and demand that you can nurture with lower-funnel direct response campaigns, based on users’ engagement with your awareness ad. This step will seed demand for both the 29 percent of users who purchase Mother’s Day gifts online, and the many users who will do at least some portion of their Mother’s Day shopping in stores (again, according to the National Retail Federation).

2. Private Marketplaces Get High-Impact Campaigns Live Quickly

Awareness campaigns are easier to implement with off-the-shelf solutions from publishing partners. At Rubicon Project, for example, we’re still seeing wide availability on Mother’s Day-specific packages from publishers representing content categories as varied as retail and technology. These packages often include high-impact units like rising stars that can add heft to awareness campaigns, and can be negotiated, implemented, and launched quickly.

3. Use the Open Auction to Drive Conversions

Given that online Mother’s Day spending occurs so soon before the holiday itself – one to two weeks prior according to an April 2014 PriceGrabber survey – brands have an opportunity to hand off insights from awareness campaigns to their direct response campaigns, and yield purchases from doing so, pretty late into the shopping season. Use awareness to prospect for Mother’s Day buyers; double-down on hand raisers in the open auction.

4. Meet Consumers in Mobile

Thirty-five percent of Mother’s Day shoppers used their mobile phones to research and compare products and prices. By running campaigns in mobile, brands have the opportunity not only to reach users in active Mother’s Day shopping mode, but also to reach the significant portion of the two-thirds of users who are not, but who still intend to make a Mother’s Day purchase.

One of the most promising opportunities in mobile today is mobile native, which adopts the look and feel of the mobile content around the ad. We discovered in a 2014 survey with InMobi that brands don’t think they have the expertise and creative to participate in mobile, but in fact, mobile native campaigns can be launched with creative assets most brands already have on hand. Given gift-givers’ buying habits, the Mother’s Day shopping cycle would be a great time to test into mobile native.

Paired with great Mother’s Day creative, each of these tactics can help brands that are well afield of the traditional Mother’s Day gift categories win new customers, and do so economically. Happily, the insights advertisers glean here can also help them build profiles of the gift-givers among their buyers, which can pay dividends next Mother’s Day, and for the major gift-giving holidays between now and then.

Image via Shutterstock.

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