With Cyber Monday 2013 projected to set new records for online commerce, which brands will truly shine and capture the most holiday shopping dollars during the pivotal November shopping days and through to the end of the season? The brands that understand the three core tenets of holiday content marketing will drive greater revenues while spreading goodwill and holiday cheer along the way. These tenets are:
1. Timing is Everything
This year, brands will walk a fine line between getting their campaigns out early enough to be considered while consumers research gifts, but not going out so early that people get upset by their early release or tire of their campaigns before the last shopping push.
Last year, brands like Macy’s and Crate & Barrel launched their first 2012 holiday campaigns as early as late August, which turned off consumers whowanted to enjoy the waning days of summer before preparing shopping lists.
This year, retailers are focusing their online and offline assets on Cyber Monday sales and specials after seeing online sales on that day jump by 30% in 2012. Target, for instance, will have a 30-second TV spot directed specifically to push Cyber Monday.
We analyzed the 2012 holiday video campaigns and found that those retailers that launched prior to Thanksgiving drove the highest viewership. Among the top 10 brands, retail campaigns that launched prior to Thanksgiving averaged 5.3 million views, while campaigns that launched post-Thanksgiving averaged 1.9 million views during late November and December.
2. Make New Friends but Keep the Old
This old chestnut applies to the new marketing technologies and media that brands must adopt while still maintaining traditional initiatives like broadcast TV advertising. This year, social media and mobile will play an even bigger role in brand strategies along with the creation of good content – both in the ads themselves, but also “how-to” content that teaches consumers something valuable for the holidays like how to bake healthier Christmas cookies or how to decorate for the season on a budget. Good content will encourage earned media and up the ROI of brands’ paid media while driving goodwill between the consumer and the brand.
Brands must also embrace new commerce technologies and approaches. This holiday season, more retailers will advertise their app as a shopping channel. And there will be more emphasis by retailers on “endless aisles.” If a consumer can’t find an item in the store, the retailer will order it for the consumer online and have it delivered promptly.
3. The Past is the Best Predictor of the Future
Our best lessons about holiday branded content come from last year’s data, where retail companies dominated this shopping season. In our analysis of 2012 holiday video campaigns, we measured 56 holiday campaigns with 34 coming from retail and apparel companies. In total, 2012 holiday campaigns garnered a True Reach of 70.5 million views, averaging 1.2 million views per campaign.
We found that the most popular campaigns – from Old Navy, Victoria’s Secret, and the NBA – used celebrities and strong call-to-actions. Using humorous content was also a driver, with funny campaigns garnering 53.3 million views while celebrity campaigns received 43.8 million views. But celebrity campaigns were slightly more efficient, averaging 3.3 million views per campaign to humor’s 3.1 million views per campaign.
Ironically, the least-advertised campaigns during the 2012 season were for toys & games and electronics, the highest sought-after gift categories for shoppers. Therefore, these products present a huge opportunity for retailers to gain Share of Choice: the share of all socially engaging online consumer behaviors , inspired by branded videos and syndicated by all advertisers in a vertical industry.
Based on findings from last year, our recommendations to brands are to spike their campaigns with relevant celebrities, humor and a strong call to action. And retailers may want to consider putting more advertising muscle behind their most sought-after holiday items like toys and electronics.