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Give Your Holiday Marketing a Boost with Native Advertising

Nov 06, 2015 / by Stefanie Neyland

It’s the most wonderful time of the yearto leverage native advertising.

‘Tis the season for some of the greatest marketing campaigns. Between Thanksgiving and the New Year, the world’s most prominent brands go head to head with one another to win consumers’ hard-earned money—and with good reason.

Shoppers have a propensity to whip out their credit cards with merry abandon at this time of year, as proven in a recent survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF), which predicted that national holiday retail sales will increase by 3.7 percent to more than $630 billion—significantly higher than the 10-year average of 2.5 percent.

The same study found that spending is expected to reach $805 per person, and over 50 percent of shoppers plan to do their holiday buying online this year. For B2C marketers, this means that native advertising might just be one of the most effective channels to reach yuletide shoppers at this jolly (and profitable) time of year.

Why native advertising?

Native advertising is a smart option for brands hoping to hone in on holiday shoppers with a timely and pertinent message. Research has shown that 70 percent of individuals want to learn about products through content rather than through traditional advertising methods, and native ad inventory allows brands to distribute that content through ad units which seamlessly integrate with how a user would normally interact with a site.

This is in stark contrast to more traditional advertising methods, like banners, which consumers have simply learned to ignore. In fact, they’re 25 percent more likely to look at a native ad than a display ad, and purchase intent is increased by 18 percent after viewing one.

For those just getting started in native, you might be wondering exactly how you can incorporate this newfangled content distribution channel into your 2015 holiday marketing mix.

With this in mind, Santa’s elves at StackAdapt have developed this four-step guide to help you create a festive (yet effective) native ad campaign this holiday season.

1. Define your holiday-buyer personas

Vision Critical, a market research and technology firm, released a survey which defines today’s four main holiday shopping buyer personas in terms of their seasonal purchasing preferences.

David Sevitt, VP of consumer insight at Vision Critical, explains: "Different groups require different marketing approaches based on their shopping behaviours and attitudes. Marketers need to study the unique ways that each of the personas access information and are influenced by different information sources, and the channels through which they buy."

Based on their findings, the folks at Vision Critical were able to identify the following key shopper personas: Modern-Day Coupon Queen, Millennial Generation Shopper, Mobile Tech Embracer, and Single Cyber Male.

Modern-Day Coupon Queen
This is typically a 40-something-year-old mother who prefers in-store shopping, but also loves mobile coupons. About 75 percent of this group use mobile devices to receive online vouchers, and the majority (85 percent) read e-newsletters to learn about promotions. The Modern-Day Coupon Queen spends the least amount of money on herself during the holidays, and is likely to line up for Black Friday sales.
Millennial Generation Shopper
The average age of a millennial shopper is 26. While just less than 30 percent of this group shops on their smartphones and tablets, more than 60 percent use mobile devices to browse and search for products. Nearly 80 percent of Millennial Generation Shoppers admit to impulse buying, and about two-thirds aren’t on the go or in-store when shopping on mobile devices.
Mobile Tech Embracer
This group of shoppers, whom Vision Critical also called "in-store mobile shoppers," embraces traditional forms of shopping, while adopting new ways of purchasing. More than half of Mobile Tech Embracers are in their mid-thirties and prefer to shop on their mobile devices, with 70 percent or more engaging in behaviors like browsing, searching, comparison shopping and purchasing via mobile. Nearly 90 percent of this group reads e-newsletters, and many are likely to participate in Black Friday promotional sales.
Single Cyber Male
This bachelor's average age is 36 and spends nearly as much on himself as he does on others during Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales events. More than 80 percent of Single Cyber Males make purchases using their computers rather than their mobile devices, and the overwhelming majority browse for gifts ahead of time. 76 percent said they weren't likely to bother with lines and crowds for in-store holiday promotions.

(Source: Business News Daily)

Your brand’s holiday buyer personas will of course likely differ from these identities. Nevertheless, they should help lay the cornerstones of your holiday marketing strategy, as they allow you to tailor your messages in line with the specific behaviours of each consumer group.

2. Zero in on your target audiences

Ever watched the TV ads shown during the break of a major football game? If so, you’re likely to see a flurry of beer and snack commercials. Similarly, if you’re watching TV at 11am on a Tuesday, in all likelihood you’ll be presented with diaper and cleaning product plugs. That’s because the more targeted an ad is, the more likely it is to appeal to and resonate with its intended audience.

Good ad campaigns know exactly who their audience is, and they target them at just the right time, and in the right context. This means that to ensure your ads aren’t falling on deaf ears, you need to harness any available data that will allow you to serve your ads to the right people.

When it comes to programmatic native advertising, there are three main targeting options available to advertisers: geo-targeting, contextual targeting and device targeting.

Location targeting allows you to reach users in key geographic locations by country, state, province or city.
Contextual targeting
Contextual targeting allows advertisers to connect with users as they read web content that's directly related to what they’re promoting. An invaluable component of contextual targeting is page optimization—a feature that scans and understands web page content to ensure ads are served on contextually relevant pages on a page level, not just a site level.
Device targeting
Are you reading this post on a mobile device? Maybe not, but there’s a pretty good chance that a number of others are. Device targeting, as the name suggests, allows brands to reach their customers on any device. But it doesn’t stop there—on the StackAdapt platform, advertisers are also able to specifically target Android or IOS devices.



3. Fine-tune your creatives

The goal of any native ad—holiday-themed or otherwise—is always the same: you’re trying to capture a user’s attention and entice them to read your content. Here are some pointers to help you turn a good Christmas ad into a great one.



During the holiday season, consumers can expect to see an array of reds, greens and golds—both online and in the real world. This is a good strategy for brands, because let’s face it, who doesn’t love the holiday season and everything that goes with it?

But research has shown that the use of colour in advertising doesn’t just elicit emotions and nostalgic associations in consumers—it also plays a substantial role in building purchase intent.

A study called “Exciting Red and Competent Blue" confirmed that purchase intent is greatly affected by colours. Moreover, a study by KissMetrics revealed that colour increases brand recognition by 80 percent, and has the unique ability to attract specific types of shoppers and even alter shopping behaviour.

(Image: Kissmetrics)

The same research study also revealed that colour associations aren’t universal. This means that advertisers must know their audiences and should adapt campaigns in accordance with where an ad is being served.

According to Kissmetrics, north American shoppers tend to have the following colour perceptions:


Optimistic and youthful. Often used to grab the attention of window shoppers.
Conveys energy and a sense of urgency. Increases heart rates and is often seen in clearance sales.
Associated with trust and security—often seen with banks.
Linked with wealth and often used to help customers relax. Also the easiest colour to process.
Creates a call to action, often used to encourage people to buy or subscribe.
Romantic and feminine. Used to market products to women and young girls.
Powerful, sleek and used to market luxury products.
Used to soothe and calm. Often seen in beauty and anti-aging products.

(Source: Kissmetrics)


So think twice when preparing your holiday marketing creatives—red may be festive, but is your goal to convey a sense of urgency and increase your customers’ heart rates? Probably not. The holiday season doesn’t have to be defined by colour clichés. With the right imagery, it’s possible to make ads look festive without having to resort to generic hues of red and green.

4. Be your customers’ very own Santa

The folks over at HubSpot are masters of content marketing, and have taken the concept of “adding value” to whole new levels by offering customers (and prospective customers) a holiday gift. The company’s 2013 festive campaign demonstrated that great holiday marketing doesn’t have to be limited to B2C brands.

Buying images to accompany content can be costly, which is why HubSpot gifted their customers with a free zip folder containing 250 ready-for-publishing holiday stock photos. The photos have a $1,500 value, but for Hubspot’s target customers they’re priceless for the amount of time they save. Two years later and the campaign remains live, generating new leads straight through the holiday season and beyond.

The jingle bells are ready to ring and Starbucks’ signature red cups are out in full force. Now’s the time to leverage native advertising to give your holiday marketing initiatives a boost.

Topics: Blog Posts, Featured, FAQ

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