As shoppers prepare for gatherings and gift giving, marketers can benefit from campaigns that reflect the evolving purchase locations and behaviors of digital consumers. A new holiday shopping report from programmatic media buying services firm Digilant explains why it’s particularly important this year that advertisers and media buyers make informed and strategic decisions that yield increased returns on digital ad spend.

Although consumers are expected to spend an average of $803 between Black Friday (Nov. 23) and Cyber Monday (Nov. 26), it’s important to keep in mind that the 2018 holiday season features the longest possible shopping calendar of 33 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. With more time for shoppers to research and make last-minute purchases, shrewd advertisers will be managing media buying campaigns well beyond Thanksgiving Weekend to take full advantage of this year’s predicted 15.3 percent increase in Holiday e-commerce sales that will last through the end of December.

Highlights from the report include:

  • With the rise of online and in-store deals throughout the holiday season, Black Friday’s prominence is diminishing and more people are beginning to shop on Thanksgiving Day.
  • Mobile and in-app transactions will account for 50 percent of all 2018 holiday sales.
  • 75% of shoppers start online whether or not they end up converting there or in-store.
  • Emerging technologies, such as blockchain, will begin to shape more flexible loyalty rewards programs for retail consumers.

Who’s buying?

As the year comes to a close, consumers hold a positive economic outlook and plan to express their optimism by spending their disposable income. Deloitte reports that 78 percent of consumers plan to spend the same amount or more as they did last year on holiday shopping.
Although many are expected to head to department stores and log onto their favorite brand’s sites to find deals and grab gifts; this year’s shopping will lean slightly heavier towards females (51 percent) and will continue to shift away from Baby Boomers and move towards Gen X and Millennials, who combined, compose nearly two thirds of all holiday shoppers (64 percent).

‘Tis the season for programmatic media buying—how marketers can capitalize

Amazon’s role in online holiday shopping

As consumers look where to purchase their gifts, online shoppers have made their preference for Amazon clear. 2017 was a huge year for the e-commerce giant, taking 4th place for US display ad buying and coming in as the number one e-retail provider for holiday shoppers. As of December 2017, Amazon reached over 183 million unique visitors a month according to Statista and had accounted for 37.53 percent of all U.S. e-retail sales.

During the 2018 holiday shopping season, their reach will continue its ascent and digital marketers should take note of the opportunity it could present. Even brands that do not plan to sell their products on Amazon can benefit from its immense and constantly growing retail data, as approximately half of all product searches start on Amazon.

‘Tis the season for programmatic media buying—how marketers can capitalize

It’s key for brands to align their ad buying strategies and creatives with the increasingly multichannel behaviors of their target audiences

A few tips to optimize your 2018 holiday media buying campaigns:

  • Define your attribution model—Holiday Shopping means multichannel madness, so you’ll want to make sure that you’re appropriately measuring the impact of every channel through which your brand advertises so that you can gain valuable first-party insights for future campaigns.
  • Leverage geolocation for competitive conquesting—The separation between the online and offline customer experience is becoming increasingly blurred. As shoppers travel with their devices to brick-and-mortar stores, consider targeting users who have visited your competitors’ locations.
  • Invest in search76 percent of shoppers change their mind after researching an alternative product, so bidding on competitive keywords is essential to keep your brand top of mind.
  • Diversify your inventory—As mobile increasingly becomes the go-to channel for researching and purchasing gifts and engagement rates skyrocket with video, try combining the two with mobile video to lift holiday conversions.

‘Tis the season for programmatic media buying—how marketers can capitalize

In a digital ecosystem where media buyers have to navigate more platforms, technologies, walled gardens, and nuances in consumer behavior, it is essential to take a holistic approach to execute effective campaigns during the 2018 holiday season. Digilant is here to help marketers take the first step.

Download the entire report here.

‘Tis the season for programmatic media buying—how marketers can capitalize

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Bulldog Reporter is a leader in media intelligence supplying news, analysis and high-level training content to public relations and corporate communications professionals with the mission of helping these practitioners achieve superior competitive performance.

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