While it may only be early October, holiday is kicking into high gear. Many consumers have already started planning their purchases, making it a crucial time for marketers to strategize how to reach these users and drive purchase intent.
This year, Thanksgiving will fall a week later than usual for the first time since 2013—resulting in the peak period between Thanksgiving and Christmas being six days shorter. For 2019’s intensified peak holiday season, marketers should be zeroing in on the platforms that build early momentum, maximize the growing dominance of mobile and scale spend through peak and post-holiday. Here are three key trends to keep in mind for this year’s holiday planning:
Build Early Momentum
Consumers are starting their holiday planning and shopping earlier and earlier each year, and this year is no exception. According to 2018 holiday data from Facebook, mid-October through early November is peak research time for consumers, and 20% of these planners will make their first holiday purchase in October or earlier. During this period, marketers should consider activating across various platforms to find these early planners and drive awareness + consideration. Some platforms that are primed for pre-holiday initiatives include:
Facebook and Instagram: Even when it’s not gift-giving season, over 69% of people find Facebook and Instagram Stories are great ways to discover new products and services. With this increase, Stories are quickly becoming the new window shopping experience for the holiday season. Leverage this placement to scale consideration among consumers who are actively searching for gift ideas.
Pinterest: Positioned as a visual search platform, Pinterest helps turn ideas into purchases. For holiday, Pinners start saving visual gift inspirations as early as September, and 54% start purchasing products before Thanksgiving even arrives. Find these early planners by leveraging Max Width Video to stop thumbs and take over the feed, and through static Carousels to drive traffic with efficient CPMs.
YouTube: Part of the larger Google Network, YouTube enables brands to use video content as a way to inspire and educate shoppers while they’re planning holiday purchases. With more than 90% of shoppers reporting that they have discovered new products and brands directly on YouTube, CPM Mastheads (now widely available) are an easy way to increase attention to your brand in the home feed.
Twitter: Consumers take to Twitter to interact directly with brands and discover new products and services. Pre-holiday shopping, they will be using the platform to read product reviews and gauge how others feel about your brand. Conversational Ads are the perfect way to source engagements for brand sentiment and help prep for retargeting initiatives when peak holiday begins.
This holiday season, mobile is expected to make up more than 50% of orders for the first time. Consumers are starting discovery earlier, and even for those converting on desktop, awareness usually starts on mobile. Historically, kids and teens would see a commercial for a product they want for the holidays and relay this to parents. But with traditional TV consumption down among this Gen Z demographic, these young consumers are now using mobile to discover what to ask for. In fact, 84% will turn to mobile devices before making holiday purchases and will use platforms like Snapchat to discover products. Marketers can leverage Snapchat Commercials during the holiday planning period to drive captivated views and product consideration.
Plan Beyond Black Friday
Holiday momentum doesn’t stop after Black Friday. Consumers are still shopping well into the latter half of December to make last-minute purchases, and are even going in-store after the holiday season ends to spend gift cards, make returns and take advantage of sales. To keep the momentum going during the post-peak period, marketers should follow some best practices:
Target Last-Minute Shoppers
The cutoff for standard shipping to ensure gifts arrive before Christmas typically takes place the week of 12/14 – 12/17. Once this window passes, consumers will move in-store to make any last-minute purchases and marketers should prepare for this by encouraging store activity in the days leading up to these shipping deadlines. Last year, SocialCode retail clients increased store RoAS by 60% between Cyber Monday and the week of shipping deadlines.
Amp Up Retargeting Efforts
As the competition for Black Friday and Cyber Monday increases, marketers should ramp up their efforts in the weeks prior to peak and extend efforts later into December. Generating interest prior to Black Friday sets the stage for retargeting efforts during the most competitive days.
Take Advantage of Lower CPMs
While retailers typically reduce ad spend after Christmas, the post-holiday drop is a chance to continue the momentum with lower CPMs in a less competitive auction environment. Maintain high conversion investment for several weeks after Christmas until performance diminishes.
In addition to the recommendations above, the platforms are also preparing for the peak season with the rollout of holiday guides, new ad formats, features and updates to help marketers be best set up for success. To read more about holiday trends by platform, click a guide below: