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Holiday Ads: Capturing Shopper Attention & Why Flighting Advertising Matters

November 29, 2018

As the Holiday season takes off more and more retail advertisers are vying to capture shoppers’ attention.

As the chart below illustrates, the number of retail ads on air each week trends upwards through the holiday season, demonstrating an incredible amount of clutter as retailers compete to break through and imprint their brand on potential customers.

To quantify just how cluttered the landscape becomes at this time of year, an average of 250 retail ads aired per week in November 2017, up over 50% from the annual average.

Graph illustrating the rise in retail ads from during November 2017

* Source: Phoenix Brand Effect

With all this congestion, it’s perhaps not surprising that retail ad performance tends to soften. However, at the most important time of the year for retailers, it’s critical that these ads do manage to grab attention and deliver branding to potential shoppers.

Why Copy Testing Isn’t Enough – Especially at this Time of Year

Copy testing is and always will be critical to ensure your ad has a shot at success. However, it looks at a creative concept in isolation – not the actual live environment replete with clutter and confusion. Programming placement, media weight, and actual consumer viewing behaviors are also key factors that intersect with creative strength to produce true ad effectiveness.

Understanding how your ad performs in its live environment is always important, but especially so during the highly competitive holiday season, when increased retail ad clutter totally changes the playing field. Diagnosing which ads are “winning” in this environment and why is essential to real-time rotation management and future strategy development.

Brand Linkage

A key challenge that advertisers face in a fast-paced holiday season is ensuring that consumers attribute the ads they remember to the correct brand. As seen in the chart below, Brand Linkage (% of ad-aware viewers who correctly identify the featured brand) bottoms out throughout the holiday season, starting in November. Furthermore, when comparing retailers who advertise in and out of this season, their branding was 15% less recognizable during the holidays.

Graph showing a drop in Brand Linkeage in November 2017

* Source: Phoenix Brand Effect

It takes time for advertising to wear-in and for consumers to build a clear association in their minds between an advertising campaign and the associated brand.

Typically we see the most successful advertisers during holiday seasons build on the continuity of earlier campaign themes. This is often the route to sustained Brand Linkage, even during the crowded holiday advertising season.

Many holiday ads feature the same common storylines: Santa Claus, children opening gifts, husbands shopping in crowded stores or presents with big red bows. So with all of these seemingly interchangeable ads, how can we expect viewers to easily attribute each to the advertised brand?

Tying It All Together – Why Ad and Brand Memorability Matter

Ultimately advertisers are trying to drive shoppers to show an interest in their stores or websites and hopefully make a purchase. During the holidays, consumers are quite keyed into this, as many are likely watching TV to discover great gift ideas and planning their shopping excursions or online buying strategies. To take advantage of this special viewing landscape, it is critical that advertisers get it right to prevent “empty” exposures.

Securing strong Ad Memorability and Brand Linkage are key measures of whether advertisers are capturing consumers’ attention and getting credit for it; we know that doing so is correlated with business outcomes. Neglecting upper-funnel measurement is ill-advised, though surprisingly common.

So the question is, what will make YOUR ad actually break through in the real-world? And how do media weight, flighting, and wear-in factor into ad performance?

Phoenix Brand Effect is a best-in-class solution for optimizing in flighting advertising performance to deliver campaign success.

Contact us for more information

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