It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – for Retailers!

What’s the best news this holiday season? For brands and retailers, the extended holiday shopping season with the three extra days in between Thanksgiving and Christmas as compared to 2011 tops the list. Those days are worth their weight in gold.

The holiday season is a true business-driver for retail and typically has a huge impact on revenue for the entire year (Black Friday is named so for a reason!). The holidays can make or break businesses, so retailers invest a lot of time, effort, and money into preparing for the season to ensure they meet their year-end sales goals. According to statistics portal Statista, on the Monday after Thanksgiving 2011 (Cyber Monday), online retailers recorded an all-time one-day high revenue of $1.25 billion. Estimates for this year are even higher, with some early predictions in the $1.5 to $2 billion range. And the National Retail Federation has found that for some retailers, the holiday season can represent anywhere between 20 and 40 percent of annual sales.

So, how can marketers make the most of this holiday season? Here are some tips on how to make sure the season is bright for your brand.

Use Video Advertising

Nothing communicates the festive spirit like a well-made video ad. The power of sight, sound, and motion to evoke an emotional response with the consumer is unparalleled and that’s one of the reasons why TV is an $80 billion ad business. With pre-roll video, you can take that same powerful TV creative and reach consumers in multiple ways online. The growth of online video over the last few years means that you now have the ability to put together campaigns with meaningful scale that can actually impact your business. Hard to believe? ComScore has found that more than 100 million U.S. consumers watch some sort of online video every day.

Use Exchanges and Demand-Side Platforms, Don’t Get Price-Gouged

If you are a media planner, you have probably heard your publisher ad sales rep say one of the following: a) they are sold out of key inventory; b) prices have gone up for Q4; or c) in order to buy the high-value inventory, you’d also need to buy some other “bundled” inventory.

With all due respect, that’s a bunch of baloney. The rise of programmatic buying and real-time-bidding means that as an advertiser, you can control how much you pay – and not pay a penny more. Programmatic buying is just more efficient. Assigning a value to an ad impression when it becomes available based on various factors of value like placement position, context of the ad, performance it delivers, etc. still trumps pre-determined buying. If you want to reach sports enthusiasts and your publisher tells you that they are sold out, target the sports category on an exchange or demand-side platform (DSP) and bid the price you want to pay.

Target Your Ideal Consumer

At last count, there are more than 20,000 data segments out there to target your ideal consumer with. I don’t recommend that you restrict your targeting to the proverbial left-handed grandma in Iowa. But this abundance of data segments gives you many ways you can slice and dice your desired audiences. Most exchanges and DSPs will give you the options to target your ideal consumer.

Use Zip Code Lists – Advertise in a 10-Mile Radius of Your Store

Target your ads around the location of your stores. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen ads for a certain fast-food chain on TV in Manhattan while the nearest store is at least an hour’s drive away, but I can’t remember seeing a single ad for them online. Why? Because online gives them the tools to exclude Manhattan, because their nearest store is an hour away. It would have to be one seriously amazing burger for me to drive an hour to get it!

Give your media provider a list of Zip codes and a radius you would like to limit your targeting to. Programmatic buying makes this simple to do.

Leverage the Power of Cross-Platform – Start With Video and Retarget on Display

Take advantage of an omni-channel buy, use the power of sight, sound, and motion for branding, and then follow the user on display, and get them on Facebook. One of the biggest developments in advertising in recent years is the ability to develop omni-channel campaigns. In the past, omni-channel campaigns took a lot of time and effort to create and manage, as you had to deal with multiple vendors and insertion orders. Today omni-channel platforms make it extremely simple. All you need is a campaign objective and a Zip list.

As consumers continue to embrace the digital lifestyle, brands and retailers have new opportunities to communicate their message – branding or direct response. With the busiest retail season upon us, smart retailers will use all of these tactics collectively to make sure they reach consumers wherever they are.

What’s your plan to drive consumer conversion and engagement over the holiday season?

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