Ready or not—it’s go time for holiday campaigns and 2024 planning. And this year, that means some big challenges for brands, especially with customer targeting. Here are some critical insights as advertisers head into the season.
Following tradition won’t work
Expect the unexpected. Old school holiday campaign timing and targeting just doesn’t work anymore in light of new consumer behaviors. Customers are buying seasonal items earlier, focusing more on necessities rather than sale-priced luxury items, and buying up trending items shared as pairings or group displays.
Disruptive sales events like Amazon’s last Prime Day are demonstrating some of those behaviors. (They reported that 77% of consumers bought back-to-school items before August this year.) In fact, lessons learned in the summer months are a key way to see what may be applicable into the holiday season.
Back to what we can learn from Amazon — they had huge numbers on Prime Day, $12.7B in total sales, a 6% increase over last year. This indicates a positive direction for the economy, which is great news for advertisers. But it also stems from smart planning.
Here are three tactics Amazon used—and recommendations for your holiday strategies:
Invite-only deals: Personalized, advance offers based on consumers’ previous purchase histories.
Best value vs. lowest price offers: More consumers purchased essential items versus lower-priced luxury ones.
Pairing of orchestrated offerings: Amazon saw a large uptick around their curated lists and specifically strong product trend. Think of the mass appeal across demographics related to Barbie movie merchandise. (Dad buys an “I’m Kenough” t-shirt, Mom a hot pink jacket, the kids a couple of “Weird Barbie” dolls.)
Prepare for a cookieless 2024
Privacy changes continue to impact the landscape. Google will begin disabling third-party cookie tracking for 1% of Chrome users in Q1 2024. With 65% market share, this is something advertisers cannot ignore — and as time goes on and cookies are further disabled, the impact will only get more pronounced.
Trends you should be aware of:
First-party data: Freely-given, first-party consumer data is now critical, not just for targeting, but also for attribution. Companies already turning to first-party data are running really clean AB tests and having the ability, without third-party data, to connect the data together on the back end for a clearer profile of each unique customer.
Contextual Targeting: Marketing to a single person with static attributes is moving towards contextual targeting based on what people are doing at a given time rather than who they are in a more static sense.
Data Clean Rooms: One of the biggest areas the continued deprecation of cookies will affect is measurement and attribution. Clean rooms are filling that hole—to tell advertisers if certain types of marketing were effective, drove incremental sales, etc.
Get on the AI bandwagon
Especially in retail, using generative AI has been a big differentiator in creating propensity models for insights into why consumers purchase specific items—and how to promote more sales. Tasks that used to be very manual are now fed into AI engines to devise hyper-targeted messaging at scale.
Plus, if you don’t have enough holiday content to speak to different segments with different tones, using AI is a hyper budget-conscious way to crank out a lot of content variations quickly and with minimal effort.
There’s no reason not to prepare
Whether your advertising strategy is operating at a baseline (one-to-one communications) or at a more advanced level (AI-driven), you can still prepare and be successful.
Understand and address the challenges you're faced with today to:
Get ahead of things like lead times to pull specific lists
Develop the right copy to execute on those campaigns
Pre-test systems to prevent outages
and then find the solutions to better know your customers and present them with relevant offers at the right place and time.
The work doesn’t end at the holidays
You’ll collect a lot of consumer data and need to put it to work. Consider where you sit on the maturity curve and what types of initiatives you can put on your roadmap early in 2024 to ensure you're stepping forward as an organization.
Baseline: Develop core buyer personas and begin defining initial segmentation
Basic Targeting: Improve operational process to generate customer segments
Cross-Channel: Test and analyze segment performance across channel mixes
1:1 Personalization: Begin operationalizing personalized recommendations and next best action engines
AI-driven Activation: Incorporate broader range of touchpoints into decisioning (i.e. product reviews, customer care surveys, return rates)
Triple-check your technology
Do you have what you need to make these strategies easier, or does current tech just maintain the status quo? Again, the goal here is to move up that maturity curve to put yourself in a better position than you may be now.
Hot tip: Using a customer data platform that merges all your physical and digital data within unified customer data profiles by using zero, first, and second-party data (and and even third-party data sources as a supplement where appropriate) is a critical way to stay current, keep sales moving in a positive direction, and predict best ways to campaign into the future. If you haven’t already, look into it.
Get to it — now
There are a lot of basics that organizations can do right now to get ahead of the holidays and 2024 planning. Wait until the week of Thanksgiving to start, and you—and your customers—will come away empty-handed.
To learn more about ways to prepare, plan, and execute for a successful Black Friday and 2024, check out our webinar.