Marketers: There’s No Place Like Social for the Holidays
Where are you doing your holiday shopping this year? With so many people connected in today’s world, it shouldn’t be a shock when the answer to that question is “online, of course!” In fact, PwC’s 2019 Holiday Outlook report predicts that more than half of U.S. consumers will do a majority of their shopping online this holiday season. With the rise of social commerce tools and in-app purchasing, 2019 is also likely the year consumers feel the impact of social media ads on their holiday gift lists, according to Smartly.io research.
While the holidays are one of the greatest opportunities for brands to drive revenue, most retail marketers understand how daunting it can be to actually reach their target audiences during Q4. After all, it’s the most saturated time of the year. To capitalize on digital shoppers that are ready to buy, marketers must consider where exactly those consumers are spending their time online, and how to monetize it. We asked 1,000 U.S. consumers about their preferences and behaviors when it comes to holiday ads on social media. Here’s what we found.
Social Ads Ping, Are You Listening?
As of early 2019, 72 percent of U.S. adults are on at least one social media network. Of those users, more than half visit these sites at least once per day — making social media networks incredibly valuable territory for retailers. What can brands do to capitalize on this?
Our findings show more than half (57 percent) of holiday shoppers feel social media ads will help them play Santa Claus by sourcing new gift ideas, and another 48 percent are considering purchasing an item they see in a paid social ad this year. In other words, more than half of your target audience is willing to make purchases from a social media ad! There’s a massive opportunity to incorporate networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest as part of your holiday strategy, and if you aren’t leveraging paid campaigns, you could be leaving a lot of business on the table.
Walking in a Creative Wonderland
The opportunity is clear and present for marketers, but what makes an ad appealing for a consumer, especially in a space already flooded with ads? What drives conversion rates? We put ourselves in their slippers and asked those questions, and we found that 35 percent of consumers said that the top factor influencing their decision to buy a product from a social media ad was whether it had compelling or engaging video, animation or imagery. Now, think of all the ads you scroll right past during the holiday blitz because they either don’t capture your attention or are too confusing to take action. Retail marketers who see the greatest return on ad spend this holiday season will be the ones who walk the fine line between making social ads compelling, while also blending seamlessly into the user experience. Plan your creative to be as unobtrusive to the consumer as possible, and you’ll ring in the new year with good tidings.
Consumers Are Making a List, Checking it Twice
While it’s clear that social ads in general can bring holiday cheer, it’s important to also consider the platforms on which consumers are most open to encountering holiday ads. On top of that, since it's getting increasingly difficult to capture consumer attention, serving up ads that are relevant to each individual is key.
According to our findings, 61 percent of U.S. consumers expect Facebook and Instagram to show the most relevant ads this holiday season, and another 57 percent expect those ads to be higher quality than any other network. Pinterest is held in high regard as well, with 9 percent expecting that platform to display the best holiday ads. Since consumers value high-quality creative (as our survey found), it’s no surprise that the visually compelling social media platforms are more likely to lead to conversions. It's crucial for advertisers to have tools in place that understand what creatives are driving the most performance and optimize based on those learnings in near real time.
2019 is the year of high purchase intent. Whether or not they've purchased from social media ads in the past, consumers are ready to buy now. It’s up to marketers to make the most of their social budget and get consumers to act.
Robert Rothschild is vice president and global head of marketing at Smartly.io, a social advertising automation platform.