Digital MarketingEcommerceYour guide to 2018’s biggest holiday marketing trends

Your guide to 2018’s biggest holiday marketing trends

This new research from ClickZ, in association with Kenshoo, shows how advertisers at U.S. brands are expanding budget and reach for the 2018 holiday season by putting more advertising dollars toward social media Stories, mobile, and Amazon ads while maintaining or increasing budgets allocated toward traditional holiday ads such as Google Search and Facebook.

The holidays are a time for celebration, community, and of course, giving. But for marketers, the holidays can also mean a mad scramble to serve consumers the perfect message at the perfect point in the buyer’s journey. As the evolving social, search, and digital shopping landscape continues to provide more opportunities to connect with customers than ever before, many advertisers find themselves stretching budgets across many different channels.

In partnership with Kenshoo, ClickZ recently released Digital Advertising Trends for the 2018 Holiday Season, a comprehensive report based on a survey of more than 300 marketers identifying specifically where brands will be spending, how this spending differs from last year’s, and what new media formats are being utilized. Here are a few of the key takeaways:

Once again, holiday ad spend is on the rise

As consumers increasingly rely on digital channels to research products and buy for the holidays, it’s no surprise that marketers are clamouring to engage with customers wherever they’re most likely to spend time online. However, as new social, search, and shopping platforms seem to pop up daily, budgets have to expand so that marketers can cover all their bases.

According to the study, the majority of marketers plan to increase spending on every single channel. For example, 58% plan to increase spend on Google Shopping/Product Listing Ads, while just 4% plan to decrease spend. For industry insiders, like Chris Costello, senior director of marketing research for Kenshoo, the bigger holiday spend was no surprise.

“In the study, 92% of brands said they would increase or have the same holiday budget as last year,” Costello said in a recent webinar with ClickZ, “Advertising Trends for the 2018 Holiday Season.” “Companies were split pretty evenly between increasing and stay the same, and that’s fundamentally consistent with what we’ve seen historically.”

Instagram and YouTube are the social channels to watch

And of those brands who are increasing their holiday marketing budgets, many are choosing to spend more on Instagram and YouTube than in previous years. The study found that 63% planned to increase Instagram spend. But it was YouTube that saw the biggest jump in advertiser participation, with 33% of brands planning to run ads on the platform this year compared to 26% in 2017. According to Costello, ads that focus on visual elements increasingly have greater impact.

“YouTube and Instagram are definitely picking up traction,” Costello says. “Visual formats in general are a big part of the story.”

The Facebook/Instagram combo is pretty compelling

But a migration to Instagram doesn’t mean marketers are fleeing Facebook. In fact, quite the opposite. While Facebook did see a slight dip in the number of active advertisers this holiday season, with 72% of brands planning to run ads on Facebook compared to the 75% of brands who did so in 2017, Facebook is still second only to Google Search in advertiser volume.

As the number of advertisers on Facebook-owned Instagram rises, research indicates that many are relying on synergy between their Facebook and Instagram campaigns. In fact, when looking at the two platforms in relation to each other, 94% of Instagram advertisers will also run ads on Facebook, and 59% of advertisers on Facebook say they will also run Instagram ads. Using the two platforms in conjunction with one another can actually help move holiday shoppers down the purchase funnel, according to Costello.

“A lot of people talk about migration to Instagram cannibalizing Facebook spend, but these channels clearly work together,” Costello says. “Instagram is using more branding tactics to start to stimulate intent and demand, and advertisers are capturing it on the Facebook side. It’s going to get to a point where you can’t have one without the other.”

Amazon ads are increasingly important

For brands looking to run holiday-specific campaigns, Amazon is becoming an increasingly important player. 82% of brands that plan to advertise on Amazon this holiday season will run Christmas-specific campaigns, compared to 72% of overall brands.

According to Costello, running holiday-specific ads on Amazon, where customers are very likely to be shopping for gifts, is an important way for advertisers to showcase products.  

“The ad is coming from inside the store,” Costello says. “Showing ads to customers in that environment is a clear part of the value proposition. Reaching them close to the point of sale with more product-focused advertising sets the table very nicely for your Thanksgiving dinner.”

More options for reaching consumers through social and search means greater opportunity for marketers to experiment with their holiday messaging. To learn more about the ways brands are connecting with customers this holiday season, download the full report here and check out ClickZ and Kenshoo’s holiday trend forecast webinar here.

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