Online Video Advertising for the Holidays--What's the Right Approach?

I get sick to my stomach writing this:.  It’s that special time of the year—well, it’s not quite but you get the idea. I’m writing about the holiday season--ok, Fox News, the Christmas season—on the last day of October, on Halloween. Shoot me.

But this year it presents a challenge for retailers and shoppers because this year there are only 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas day. That’s the shortest possible interval, which will accelerate advertising and marketing. Kmart even ran a commercial for Christmas on Sept. 9, to the annoyance of many. But it’s Kmart; how could it hurt?

It should be good for online merchandising because shopping online is faster than going out to the mall, and this year time-saving will be super important.

Among the retailers, the one with most to gain or lose is Best Buy which has been pretty well battered by showrooming. This year, it’s hitting that issue head on in a series of commercials that use big name stars, including Will Arnett, to encourage shoppers to buy at the store’s guaranteed lowest price, or order online and come to a handy Best Buy outlet to pick it up. It beats the mail. cites
Kantar Media stats that say Best Buy spent $129 million on advertising in the fourth quarter last year. The retailer is not disclosing what it will spend this year but notes a “double digit” increase in its digital budget.

Commercials might do the trick. Whether online video advertising can do much beyond that is doubtful to me, but Steve Arthur, head of industry for retail at Google, says online advertisers should use the season to build brand messaging and marekters can do that best "by expressing yourself on video so that your best shoppers see a part of you that's really endearing. Video is the best way for retailers to position themselves emotionally," he tells ClickZ.

He points to a series of L.L. Bean online native ads on YouTube that are setting up viewers for the kill by showing an altogether interesting video on how to use snowshoes. They’re lovely videos, no kidding, and YouTube claims its research shows that four out of ten viewers who see a product video on social video site then check it out at a brick-and-mortar store, or on the product’s Website. Impressive, if true.

 But I’d be more inclined to take a more direct route, because when it gets down to the nitty-gritty of holiday shopping, it would seem the quick, hard sell would be more logical. The clock is ticking, especially this year.

The Commerce Department estimates e-commerce sales in the fourth quarter will rise 15.1%, which, though healthy, would be the smallest year-over-year quarterly gain all year long; altogether holiday sales may be sluggish, as they say. Online sales figures have nothing much to do with online video advertising, but it would seem it’s the time of the season for online messages to get in, be merry, be targeted, and get out.

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