Giving Brands The Gift Of Conversion This Holiday Season

By Preethy Vaidyanathan, CPO at Tapad -- It’s September, the sun is still shining, and it’s hard to believe that in just a short time we’re likely to see the first holiday commercials pop up on our screens. But will we be surprised? After all, new research (registration required) suggests many of us are already thinking about the holidays right now.

Over the past 14 years, I’ve had the opportunity to assist brands in building successful digital advertising products. Now as chief product officer at Tapad, my team and I work diligently to provide marketers the insights and tactics needed to successfully engage consumers in an authentic way. I encourage marketers to reevaluate their approach if it doesn’t include a long-term, personalized, holistic strategy. These key elements drive an impactful campaign, ultimately increasing a brand’s bottom line.

Everyone loves a good story.

Sequential storytelling is a crucial tactic for any marketing campaign, but it isn’t always deployed during the holiday season. For example, take the big retailers’ holiday advertisements; these commercials are hyped up and can generate millions of views via TV and digital channels, but rarely do they sync with campaigns used earlier in the year or even in the previous holiday season. This is a marked change from the in-your-face nature of most holiday season campaigning, and one that relies on tapping into precise moments when consumers start thinking ahead to the holidays.

My team and I recently worked to tell a sequential story for an entertainment industry client. We began to tell a narrative by first sharing a video including a movie trailer fit for the consumer’s device (e.g., vertical video for mobile). For those who showed interest in the trailer by watching the whole video, we progressed the story by showing them theater locations. Through this campaign, the studio drove consumers down the funnel, encouraging the progression from awareness to purchase. In addition, it more than doubled interaction rates and time spent with the content.

To execute on a similar campaign, it's crucial you partner with the right martech provider who can both identify the appropriate audience and provide a creative strategy to share content as pieces of a larger story driving toward conversions. This way, they can best work with you to assess viewing habits and preferences and re-engage consumers with your next piece of content.

Consumers aren’t one trick ponies.

As mobile search and purchasing behavior increases, marketers must keep all devices in mind when creating a holistic campaign. A recent study shows that "90% of multiple device owners switch between screens to complete tasks, using an average of three different combinations every day." And through our research, we discovered 50% of consumers converted on a device different from the one they started their search on.

For example, in a recent campaign with Generator Media and Jenny Craig, we determined the right audience to speak to about memberships by identifying consumers with relevant interests and purchasing behaviors through cross-device technology. After we found the right consumer, we identified their intent behavior across time and devices in order to connect with them in a meaningful way.

This is imperative to make sure your content and timing are relevant to the correct audience and to the device on which they will convert -- it cannot be done without a cross-device approach.

Milestones matter.

Marketers would do well to consider the key milestones every consumer is likely to experience over the course of the year that could link to holiday purchasing. Every year people retire, go back to college and experience countless milestones, all of which can trigger a look ahead to holiday purchases. For example, a couple that purchases a house during the summer is likely seeking holiday deals to furnish their new home.

By going beyond search behaviors and purchase intent to considering a consumer’s personal life events, marketers have a larger opportunity to impact purchasing using sequential storytelling across multiple devices. Personalization may be a term you’re sick of hearing, but the reason ad-tech practitioners keep harping about it is that the evidence shows personalized campaigns resonate better with consumers.

Package up your data with a big bow.

It’s vital that marketers take a holistic approach to measuring holiday campaign effectiveness. This includes online and offline purchases, as well as how online campaigns influenced offline purchases and vice versa.

Over the last 12 months, Tapad has run more than 10 offline studies through various partners to measure cross-screen impact on offline sales. In the case of these statistics, we looked at three campaigns that ran around the holiday time period for Fortune 500 clients who had both an in-store and online sales component. Our clients have found when expanding their measurement scope from a single online-only device to cross-device, their return on ad spend doubles. When the scope of measurement is expanded from only online to include offline as well, the ROI on ad spend triples.

To take advantage of these opportunities, be sure to partner with a technology platform offering holistic metrics and strategic execution based on your data. Consider companies that incorporate consumer identity, intent, purchase behavior, time of engagement, cross-device use, point of purchase and online and offline engagement. Your provider should work with you hand-in-hand on a data-driven approach that best suits your brand and key stakeholders.

With more devices used to inform purchases – from smartphones and tablets to smartwatches – consumers can be given holiday season knowledge and awareness well before the event. The retail landscape today is global, increasingly online-based and more competitive than ever before. Marketers won’t be able to cut through the noise come November and December if the right approach isn’t implemented. Now is the time to break with tradition and adopt a more intelligent, longer-term and cross-device approach to holiday season campaigning.

(Originally posted on Forbes)