In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic demanded agility from advertisers when crafting holiday media plans. It was a year like no other, impacting almost all facets of businesses and notably ecommerce. Online shopping increased 32% YoY as physical stores closed, and ecommerce sales in November reached $100 billion for the first time ever1. Advertisers learned how to be flexible. They learned the importance of communicating to customers with empathy and they seized the rise of experiential marketing. As the country reopens, 2021 holiday media planning will come with its own unique challenges and opportunities for advertisers. 2021 ecommerce sales are predicted to continue their rise YoY2, and if advertisers wish to capitalize on this year’s growth, their holiday strategies need to be considered now.
How to Move Fast When Planning
A strategic holiday plan includes ensuring your media is running on the right platforms for your business goals, a detailed audience targeting funnel, and fully optimized creative that communicates your brand’s value. But, how do advertisers ensure the most successful creative combinations are shown at each impression? With the detail and strategy that goes in to segmenting audiences, dynamic creative optimization (DCO) allows ads to run with their most effective combination of elements specified by audience, geography, or placement – all in real time. To ensure that the most successful creative is in market for the most important time of year, DCO testing needs to start as early as July for most advertisers. This gives brands ample time to test the top performing templates, copy, and imagery against key audiences.
Holiday shoppers move fast, and DCO moves faster. With winning combinations of imagery and CTAs (found during Q3 DCO testing) advertisers can ensure the hard work it took to segment key audiences will be met with top-performing creative variations. Along with this benefit, DCO allows for greater automation. Holiday media planning and execution is hectic and labor intensive. Through DCO, advertisers can put thousands of combinations of imagery and messages in market to serve and optimize in real time, saving hours of labor.
Along with DCO, Q4 creative strategy planning should consider elements such as business KPIs and goals, target audiences, and brand positioning. With these strategies considered, all aspects of the media plan can work together in a cohesive way to achieve holiday business goals.
A few creative best practices to remember when crafting your holiday plan include:
1. Start you holiday messaging early against prospecting audiences to drive new customer acquisition and strengthen remarketing pools.
2. Enter Q4 with tested and proven creative and invest against top performing combinations.
3. Perform competitor audits to understand the creative landscape and understand what you’ll be competing against.
4. Segment audiences based on KPIs and develop ads targeted to specific audiences to maximize relevancy.
5. Capitalize on shoppable formats such as Facebook Collection ads or Pinterest Shopping ads.
6. Ensure your creative is connected to the brand story.
6. Stay digital: develop creative for vertical formats, with mobile first considerations.
2021 holiday planning will bring unique challenges and opportunities to advertisers as the holiday shopping landscape evolves following the COVID-19 pandemic. To be prepared, advertisers must consider their creative strategy earlier than ever. DCO testing throughout Q3 will ensure the best performing creative is in market during key sales. Investing in proven creative and strong alignment between creative, audiences, and brand messaging will drive success during Q4 holiday planning.