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'Tis the Season To Be Shopping

‘Tis the season for holiday shopping! According to recent predictions from eMarketer, we can expect to see approximately a 17% increase in holiday spending this season. So how can advertisers position themselves front and center with customers during this hectic holiday period?

Change the way you think about the consumer/brand relationship in the advertising game. 

Both parties have stakes in the game, and as a result, both parties must benefit. The market has become social and engaged, and consumers simply don’t respond to ‘old fashioned’ advertising like they used to.  

Social, mobile and digital are a daily part of life and the way companies communicate with consumers has given rise to an entirely new dynamic in the consumer-brand relationship. Consumers have a louder voice and greater influence than ever before, including the ability to sculpt brand identity from their couch through social vehicles like Twitter and Facebook.

The problem: They are inundated with information daily, and as a result it’s incredibly difficult to compete for attention.  Brands need to rise above the noise to get noticed -- and it’s clearly no longer a "one way street." Being intrusive and/or interruptive is not effective -- and in-your-face ads are easily overlooked, or worse, result in backlash that impacts the brand.

One of the new strategies that brands are adopting is value-exchange advertising -- which offers consumers access to premium online content in return for opt-in brand engagement.  This is quickly becoming a vital means of positively communicating brand messaging and driving strategic user action. It’s becoming more attractive, especially in the retail sector as the holidays get closer. 

For example, in e-commerce, many brands, across different verticals -- from entertainment and cosmetics to consumer packaged goods and quick service restaurant (QSR) companies -- have implemented value-exchange campaigns with increasing success. 

Entertainment is a prime example. Movie trailers are advertisements, and after viewing a trailer a consumer can be prompted to share the trailer on their social platforms (ideal to build viral buzz about a movie prior to its release) or add a calendar reminder for the movie release date or simply book a ticket (frictionless point of sale right after the movie trailer drives exceptional conversion on ticket purchases). 

QSR companies have also adopted this ad model with remarkable success. As with movie trailers, the immediate placement of online purchase options -- such as pizza delivery -- immediately after a video ad uniquely prompts “impulse purchase” opportunities. In addition, the ability to distribute coupons for in-store use also offers avenues for innovative “clicks-to-bricks” campaigns.

mcommerce also presents an excellent opportunity for the value-exchange model. In fact, the unique attributes of mobile devices provide more possibilities for innovative campaigns. The rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets allows for mobile commerce to continue growing commensurately. Javelin Strategy and Research found that over $20.7 billion was spent via mobile transactions last year. Furthermore, Juniper Research estimates that the number of people making purchases with their mobile devices will expand from 398 million this year to 500 million by 2014. This increasing penetration of tablets is driving both larger basket sizes and more frequent purchases.

A recent study by MarketLive reported that 16% plan to use mobile for overall gift buying this year, compared to 19% who plan to buy in the store. Overall, 21% more of the population plan to use these devices this year -- almost double that of last year.

The ability to take advantage of platform-specific factors and features, such as location-based services, makes for very interesting mobile value-exchange ad campaigns. For example, on iOS devices, movie/song trailers can be followed by their respective purchase pages in iTunes and coupons/vouchers can be downloaded directly to the Passbook app. In fact, MLB.com recently reported that 12% of recent online game ticket buyers opted to have their e-tickets delivered directly to their iPhones.

Using location-based services, campaigns can be demographically tailored and can make checkout processes easier, driving higher rates of impulse buying. Finally, the native integration of Facebook and Twitter in iOS 6 allows the option of including low-friction social buying mechanisms. 

As the holiday season draws near, advertisers should not forget that "you get what you give," and value-exchange advertising may just be your ticket to increased engagement and conversion for upcoming campaigns.

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