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Taboola Holiday Advertising Q4

2023 festive season strategy: 3 ROI-boosting strategies from top advertisers



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November 6, 2023 | 5 min read

For consumers, the holiday shopping season is already underway, while for brands and marketers, the pressure is on to wrap up the year with sales numbers that shine

Despite cost of living concerns and rising prices, UK Christmas retail spending is expected to rise by 3.4% in 2023, while global online sales during November and December will increase 4% year-over-year, totaling $1.19tn.

Earning your piece of the (mince) pie will require strategic planning and data-backed budgeting, but with the right advertising approach, you'll be able to cut through the online clutter, capture the attention of inflation-weary customers, and drive conversions.

And who better to learn from than the brands and agencies who are already doing this successfully? We've gathered some brilliant advice from advertisers who've mastered their festive season strategies year after year. Their expert insights and battle-tested tactics will help you understand how to allocate your budget throughout the season and achieve the best possible ROI (return on investment) during these festive months.

Expert tip 1: Let the past guide you forward

Psychologists say that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Aiden Spiteri, a programmatic account executive at the global agency Incubeta, relies on that approach when constructing Q4 advertising plans for clients such as The Perfume Shop. He delves into historical data from past festive seasons and uses those insights to develop high-performing strategies for the upcoming one.

To do this yourself, scrutinize your customers' buying trends from the past few years - go even further back if your data was skewed because of the pandemic - and analyze sales data through the lens of today's trends. Challenge or confirm your assumptions by asking questions like:

  • Did specific price points drive the popularity of products?
  • Which weeks or days yielded the highest sales volume?
  • Which deals or special offers did consumers respond to?
  • Was a purchasing trend a response to a unique event like Covid or a promotion, or is it a recurring pattern?

Similarly, review the marketing and budgeting strategies you used in the past. Identify which audience segments, campaign messages, ad formats and platforms delivered the highest ROI, and consider how altering your marketing mix could yield better results. Don't shy away from digging deeper into the strategies that didn't produce the expected results. Try to understand what went wrong and whether there is a way to adjust the strategy for success.

Expert tip 2: Find your brand's sweet spot days

While some brands can thrive by leveraging the entire holiday season and going all in on major shopping days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it's not an approach that works for everyone.

But what should you do if your brand's seasonality doesn't align with traditional shopping peaks? Secret Escapes' senior performance marketing executive Anastasia Trifunovic and performance marketing manager Caroline Schaaf believe there's still a role for the festive season, even in businesses that experience peak demand in the summer.

For Secret Escapes, so-called "Q5" is the key moment to launch performance marketing campaigns and capture sales. Instead of squandering ad budgets and contending with high costs and fierce competition throughout November and December, the team opts to hold off, ready to seize the month of January when their campaigns generate the highest ROI.

Regardless of the seasonality of your business, the lesson is clear: concentrate your efforts and ad dollars on the days that best align with your brand's offer or circumstances. For example, if you offer online courses or digital gift cards, ramp up your efforts in the few days before Christmas, targeting last-minute shoppers when guaranteed timely deliveries are no longer an option.

Expert tip 3: Test, optimize, repeat

The holidays are a make-it-or-break-it time for many brands, so ensuring your ads are as effective as possible is crucial. A/B testing is a data-driven strategy that delivers insights you can use to confidently optimize your campaigns and budgets and adapt to changing consumer behaviors. But what elements are most important to test? Well, it depends.

Using their beauty brand client Boots as an example, programmatic executive Mollie York and digital media executive Megan Cardoe from agency SMG concentrate their A/B tests on campaign copy and creative elements. They continuously analyze traffic and sales data, allocating more ad dollars to top-performing campaigns and platforms.

Since they have a strong grasp on their audience targeting, that's not something they need to experiment with. However, if you want to expand, refine or discover new audience segments, audience testing should be on your radar. You can also test different ad formats (think video vs. image), CTAs, headlines, and post-click landing pages - any element can be tested, but do it methodically for accurate results.

Seize the season

With the shopping season already underway, now is the time to take a hard look at your advertising strategy and adjust it based on these expert suggestions. All three strategies have one thing in common: they rely heavily on data. Don't underestimate the value of your data - it will provide unique insights you can use to boost campaign performance and revenue through the festive season and beyond.

Taboola Holiday Advertising Q4


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