Q4 2023: Holiday Marketing Performance Guide

Whether or not it feels like it yet outside, it’s time again to prepare for Q4 campaigns. It’s no surprise that marketers will be facing a competitive season, but each year comes with its own, unique set of challenges and opportunities. With continued economic pressure on advertising budgets and consumer spending alike, evolving privacy policies and regulations, and emerging tech such as AI rapidly evolving, there’s a complicated set of interconnected issues to navigate this season.

This year, you don’t have to look far to find opportunities in challenges. AI-driven technologies can provide increasingly advanced data science capabilities and predictive performance modeling to help understand and reach the right audiences while optimizing campaign performance. Increased visibility and measurability of spend is fueling more efficient campaigns, with a focus on performance throughout the entire purchase funnel.
Continued growth has also been seen in multiple channels, with convergent TV strategies now bridging Connected TV and linear channels, Digital Out-of-Home seeing increasingly advanced capabilities and measurability, social commerce continuing to boom as adoption expands, and more. Across all channels, advancing creative technology is enabling more immersive, engaging experiences, fueled by augmented reality, dynamic creative, and personalization.

2022 Key Takeaways

  • Total retail growth in the US is starting to normalize after two years of fluctuations, with the 2022 holiday season reporting YoY growth of 4.8%.
  • Ecommerce growth is also normalizing, coming in at 9% in 2022. This continues a more sustainable growth pattern after 2020’s pandemic-influenced season saw a 38.1% jump YoY.
  • Brick-and-mortar retail spending saw a 3.9% gain in 2022, growing to more than $1 trillion. This growth is on top of 2021’s huge YoY numbers due to the return of in-person shopping.
  • The season is starting sooner than ever as a result of early sales and promotions, such as Amazon’s Prime Early Access Sale in October. The month saw a 9.8% jump in ecommerce sales.
  • Though the season is now longer overall, 2022 saw bigger growth at either end as early promotions and last-minute purchases created bookended booms in October and December.
  • November wasn’t without success, as the Cyber Five period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday saw ecommerce surge amid discount-minded shoppers. Thanksgiving Day was up 4.3% to $5.63 billion, while Black Friday saw 3.6% growth to $9.78 billion and Cyber Monday rose 9.0% to $12.43 billion.
  • Over the same five-day period, brick-and-mortar saw growth as well, with in-store shoppers up 17% on average YoY, with each individual day posting double-digit gains.

Source: eMarketer

Tactics to Try in 2023

Dig Into Data Science

Put your zero-party and first-party data to good use. Advanced AI-powered, privacy-safe data science tools, like those offered in the AXi suite, can process any amount of data to interpret critical behavioral signals and provide actionable insights that help you understand your audience without compromising their information. With access to the industry’s largest fully consented datasets, your audience data can then be leveraged to power predictive audience modeling, finding new customers who are most likely to convert and leveraging custom bidding algorithms to reach them efficiently at scale.

Make Campaigns Intelligent

With AI-powered programmatic tools, your campaigns can be empowered with both historical and log-level data access to maximize your spend throughout their entire lifecycle. Bidding is customized around extensive data points, ensuring that your spend is focused on precise performance goals from the start. Once live, these tools will continue to gather data and monitor performance, enabling your campaign to adapt in real time and become increasingly efficient, minimizing your spend while maximizing results.

Get Personal

Personalization is vital in creative today, as customers expect to feel valued and recognized throughout their journey. 73% of shoppers expect brands today to understand their needs and expectations, driving the necessity of personal messaging. Your audience data can help inform these strategies, providing insights on your customers’ specific needs, pain points, and goals. In creative placements across channels, tools such as Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO) can enable you to address audiences based on factors such as location, date and time, or even local conditions such as the weather. Sequentialized creative can also be particularly effective in an omnichannel strategy, with each touchpoint reaching a user in a specific order, with specific timing, even spanning channels and formats to control context and encourage them along their purchase journey.

Converge Your TV Strategies

With the growth of ad-supported streaming services, Connected TV (CTV) advertising continues to see growth. However, increasingly advanced ad tech is also being integrated into linear TV media buying, providing some of the targeting and reporting that advertisers have come to expect from addressable channels. Today, many brands are approaching both streaming and broadcast television advertising with a single, convergent strategy to target a wider audience and expand their reach. In an omnichannel strategy, additional digital channels such as display, social, audio, and more can also be activated to stay top of mind and reach these TV audiences with additional messaging to encourage their journey.

Take Creative Beyond Reality

As audiences become increasingly bombarded with advertising throughout the holiday season, it’s vital to create memorable experiences that help your brand stand out. With augmented reality creative, consumers can engage directly with your placements in a meaningful way, forging the kind of relationship that builds brand affinity over time. Augmented reality spans a wide range of possibilities, from fully immersive experiences on digital out-of-home placements, to immediately shareable social media filters and lenses, or even seamless WebAR-enabled display ads that incorporate virtual try-on directly into the placement. All of these create tangible, interactive experiences that help drive sales.

Download the Full Guide

It’s always been vital that marketing strategies adapt and evolve to respond to the fluctuating expectations of audiences. In this year’s edition of our holiday marketing guide, we gathered data to help you adapt, examining consumer behavior and changes to the digital landscape over the past year, while providing insights that can help you get the most out of your campaigns.

AUDIENCEX works year round to empower brands and agencies alike with access to the latest in AI-powered data science, programmatic media access, and tech-driven creative together with our industry-leading strategic expertise and services so they can identify, understand, and meaningfully engage the right audience at the right time. If you’d like to learn more, reach out today to be connected with an expert strategist who can help you successfully navigate your campaigns in any season.