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Unveiling the secret to effective brand advertising this Christmas

by Julia Smith

2 December 2020 9:48am

Danny Haynes, Commercial and Operations Director, AudienceStore

What tier did you get? The Covid equivalent of exam results is finding out how your friends and colleagues fared in the great festive tier system. For a large percentage of the country, after a month of essential shopping only, the high streets are back in business and Christmas shopping can commence in earnest.

However, if this year has taught us anything it’s that nothing is certain for long. Which is why bricks and mortar retailers cannot take anything for granted in the run up to this Christmas. No sooner has a town got back up and running than a spike in Covid cases could see it sent into tier 3 and any non-essential shopping stopped.

However, brands wishing to target shoppers need not expend too much energy worrying about committing spend that will be wasted, or finalising their festive media plans in advance. The secret to successful targeting during this, our Covid Christmas, is staying flexible and knowing where the best opportunities lie.

Advertising at the best of times is most effective when kept agile but now more so than ever advertisers need to work with their agencies to keep their options open, while ensuring no spend is committed to platforms that may suddenly lose their impact if circumstances change. A paper and paste out of home (OOH) poster is no good to anyone if the high street on which it is situated is suddenly locked down at short notice.

The first major consideration is which media to use. While I would always advise people approaching an unpredictable short-term window of opportunity to put their money behind digital channels, programmatically-bought digital out of home (OOH) is one of the most powerful ways to reach shoppers. By trading programmatically, messaging can be changed at the touch of a button and media only bought when certain predetermined criteria are met. It can also work perfectly as part of an omni-channel campaign, targeting certain audiences on their smartphone after they have been in the vicinity of a participating OOH site.

The effective use of data is also a must when it comes to media and marketing budgeting: we have the technology to tell whether someone who has been exposed to a digital ad has later entered a bricks and mortar location, allowing us to measure the effectiveness of digital marketing.

And, once live, a campaign by no means has to run for the full, scheduled period in its original format. We can continually optimise the plan - tweaking, monitoring and adapting on an ongoing basis - such that the work continually hits the mark, and quickly. It is now very possible to turn around a redundant offline budget into an online budget with different KPIs. Digital media and the effective use of programmatic trading means it is perfectly possible - and indeed sensible - to maintain fluid KPIs that can be adapted to respond to the unpredictable times in which we find ourselves.

There has been much talk of 2020 being an e-commerce Christmas but while I fully expect to see a lot of shopping taking place online this year - especially of course in Tier 3 areas where access to physical shops is so restricted - I also anticipate a surge in high street shopping as people in other areas are released from November’s lockdown.

And let’s not forget the emotional aspect to all this. There will be fewer opportunities for people to get into the Christmas spirit this year - no Christmas parties, no spontaneous nights out, not even any carol singing for those who are partial to some festive choral numbers - so for many the prospect of hitting the shops will be hugely appealing. Many brands may have been concentrating on ecommerce opportunities - including Black Friday, Cyber Monday and so on - but the physical shopping experience is still a huge opportunity to speak to consumers on a deeper level.

Those high streets that are open will be as busy as ever, not just with people shopping for loved ones but also picking up a little something for themselves at the end of a rubbish year and ahead of a muted Christmas.

Brands have every opportunity to target shoppers this December, harnessing positive mind sets and as much festive feeling as people can muster. The secret is to embrace agility, adopt clever use of data and ensure your creative and media plans are not only on point but can be optimised.

Tags

Christmas 2020
marketing
Marketing Agency
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creative agency
ooh
ecommerce
ecommerce marketing