The art of activation for the 2021 holiday shopping season

November 17, 2021 | 3 minute read
Tim Carr
Head of Marketing, Oracle Advertising
Text Size 100%:

Holiday shopping audience activationIt’s that time of year again! But consumers are looking at this holiday shopping season through a new lens.

As the busiest buying days of the year approach, keeping these three trends in mind can help you reach and activate holiday shoppers in your product niche.

Holiday shopping audiences are spending more online and in-store

When physical stores reopened, in-store shopping spiked—but not at the expense of ecommerce. In-store shopping in the Americas has steadily outpaced ecommerce since stores reopened, but in July, ecommerce sales were still up 35% compared to pre-2020 levels.

Plan for a much more even distribution of in-store vs. online shopping preferences this year—and with it, a growing opportunity. This year, total holiday spending is expected to outpace last year by 7%—more than double the average annual growth.

Tip: Purchase-based targeting can help you reach holiday shoppers with ads that favor their preference for in-store vs. online shopping. Audiences that our algorithms define as “heavy buyers” spend 12x more than "light buyers."

Product discovery will take longer, spanning online and offline channels

Supply disruptions in 2020 left shoppers around the globe waiting weeks or months to receive orders—holiday purchases and everyday buys alike. Global health and safety concerns indicate there will be supply chain interruptions again this season. The difference is that shoppers are prepared for it this year, planning to begin their holiday shopping—research and actual purchases—much earlier than in prior years.

Shoppers are also turning to more channels for product discovery. 39% of global consumers surveyed this year report finding their last purchase through a search engine, with physical stores coming in a close second at 33%. Brand websites (32%) and third-party retail websites (29%) follow. This trend underscores an opportunity to catch the eyes of holiday shoppers online as they are researching, planning, and ready to buy. This means there isn’t one ideal placement for your ads. Shoppers are doing research through a wide variety of sources, then meandering over to, for example, pumpkin spice recipes before thinking of a new search query that takes them to several sites to compare products.

Tip: Contextual intelligence will get your brand in front of shoppers who are not only in-market, it will reach people who are browsing. You can use contextual intelligence for laser-focused targeting on holiday shoppers, but also consider casting a wider net. Contextual intelligence can also be aligned with the way customers actually shop by putting your brand in front of shoppers as they browse through various tangentially-related topics.  

Video consumption continues to rise, and viewers have a mind to buy

Streaming video surged in popularity in 2020, and consumers this year still say they plan to watch more paid video (36%), free video (34%), and on-demand video (39%) into the 2021 holiday shopping season. What’s more, many consumers watch with a "buying mindset." 45% say that video streaming helps them find new products, while 33% say video has become influential in their purchase decisions. This combination of an engaging medium and an open-minded audience makes video an exciting opportunity for holiday advertisers this year.

Tip: Target holiday shopping, frequent shoppers, and high-spending audiences in high-impact environments such as connected TV (CTV) and social video.

Authenticity is key for successful activation

So, will this holiday shopping season be a return to “normal” after the big changes of 2020? Definitely not. But it will be an opportunity for advertisers to build on what we’ve learned in the last year and keep creating authentic connections with consumers—from first impression onward.

Oracle Activation is an end-to-end solution spanning audience and contextual targeting technology to help you reach your target market in engaging, brand-safe ad environments so that you can make the most of every advertising dollar.

To learn more, check out our free activation playbook.

Tim Carr

Head of Marketing, Oracle Advertising

Tim Carr leads marketing for Oracle Advertising’s suite of digital media solutions, including audience targeting, contextual intelligence, data onboarding, ad verification, and attention measurement solutions.  Before joining Oracle, Tim spent 20 years working in the CPG industry, holding various roles in sales, insights, and strategy at Pfizer Consumer Healthcare and in shopper analytics and loyalty marketing at IRI and Catalina.

Previous Post

What CMOs need to do to make 'madtech' happen

Mollie Spilman | 4 min read

Next Post

Survey: How the hospitality industry is welcoming the resurgence of the travel market

Tim Carr | 4 min read