6 Holiday Marketing Ideas for 2024

Illustrative graphic showing holiday marketing ideas like gift-giving

Holiday marketing campaign planning typically begins in the summer. Getting an early start means you’ll have time to craft holiday marketing ideas that take into account current trends, emerging digital channels, and consumers’ expectations going into the holiday season. 

Ready to spruce up your holiday marketing strategy? Read on to learn everything you should know to plan the best holiday marketing campaign in 2024.

Looking at historical data and trends is beneficial when planning programmatic campaigns, especially for seasonal campaigns targeting holiday shoppers

For example, if you’re a video game retailer, and you know that big-name franchises sold better over Cyber Monday than independent titles with less brand affinity, that’s valuable information when planning your holiday marketing ideas.

Similarly, knowing that US holiday retail sales grew 4.1% following the 2016 US presidential election may encourage you to start your holiday advertising in early November instead of waiting until after Thanksgiving.

Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the past year and the 2023 holiday shopping season. 

Retail Sales Continued to Grow

Despite inflation and high interest rates, the National Retail Federation (NRF) says retail sales grew 3.8% year-over-year during the 2023 holiday season, reaching a record $964.4 billion USD. Annual retail sales also saw steady growth compared to 2022. Sales grew by 3.6%, with annual retail sales reaching $5.1 trillion USD. Although brick and mortar locations accounted for 70% of retail sales in 2023, online shopping is expected to grow between 7% to 9% year-over-year in 2024.   

Electronics Retailers Lead Retail Growth

According to NRF, November-December holiday sales saw exponential growth in all but two of nine retail categories. Electronics and personal care retailers both saw a 9% or more increase in their sales. Online sales increased 8.2%. The other three categories that saw a jump were clothing (3%), general merchandise (2%), and grocery stores (1.1%).  

Meanwhile, after experiencing a boom during the COVID-19 pandemic, building materials and garden supply store sales, and furniture and home furnishings store sales decreased 3.9% and 6.2%, respectively.

Cyber Week 2023 Set Records

Cyber Week, the five-day shopping period that stretches from Thanksgiving through Black Friday and Cyber Monday, is generally considered the start of the busy holiday shopping season, especially for parents.

In 2023, a record-breaking 200.4 million customers shopped either in-person or online from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday. US retail consumers spent a record $9.8 billion USD online on Black Friday in 2023, an increase of 7.5% year-over-year, according to Adobe Analytics. NRF reported that online shoppers during Cyber Week totalled 134.2 million, up from 130.2 million in 2022. 

The top-selling toys (sold online) during Cyber Monday 2023 included Hot Wheels, LEGOs, plush toys, and play sets. Top electronics included Bluetooth headphones, kitchen appliances, televisions, and smartwatches. Additionally, gaming consoles, such as the PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch, and newer games, like Super Mario Bros. Wonder and Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, were hot sellers. 

What to Expect for the 2024 Holiday Retail Season

Now that we’ve unwrapped the 2023 holiday shopping season, let’s look ahead. Use these predictions about the 2024 holiday shopping season to prepare a campaign strategy that aligns with consumer behaviour. 

Annual and Holiday Retail Sales Will Continue to Increase

In its 2024 forecast, the National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts good things for both online and brick and mortar sales throughout the year, with retail sales expected to grow 2.5% to 3.5% in 2024, reaching up to $5.28 trillion USD. 

Although annual growth may be slightly lower than in 2023, the forecast is still close to the pre-pandemic average annual retail sales growth rate, which was 3.6% per year. The forecast for e-commerce is even better. E-commerce and online sales are projected to rise 7% to 9%, increasing to $1.47 trillion or $1.5 trillion USD in 2024.

US Retail Sales Growth Predictions in 2024

According to the National Retail Federation, US retail sales are expected to grow 2.5% to 3.5% in 2024.

    Source: NRF

    Coming into the holiday season, it’s expected that 2024 will follow a similar pattern to 2023. E-commerce is expected to break records, with sales reaching $271.58 billion USD, a growth of 9.5% over 2023. Meanwhile, in-store sales are projected to increase 3.7%, reaching $1.1 trillion USD. 

    Holiday Shoppers Will Continue To Look for Good Deals

    In Accenture’s 2023 Holiday Shopping Survey, over half of consumers expected inflation to impact their spending during the 2023 holiday season, with fewer than 1 in 5 (17%) consumers saying they felt optimistic about their financial situation. Consumers planned to spend an average of $591 USD during the 2023 holiday season, an average of 5% less than the previous year. To save money, two-thirds of shoppers said they’d buy holiday items on sale, and half expected to buy fewer items overall.

    Although consumers cut back in 2023, 65% of holiday shoppers are still planning to spend around the same amount in 2024. Salsify’s Holiday Research Report discovered that less than 40% of consumers were willing to change their holiday budget in 2024.

    2024 Will See a Rise in M-Commerce

    As smartphone use increases, so do m-commerce sales. In 2024, US retail m-commerce sales will reach $558.29 billion USD, and account for 7.4% of total retail sales, according to EMARKETER. The increased use of mobile devices by shoppers underscores how important it is for retailers and online marketplaces to create well-designed, easy-to-use experiences for both their mobile websites and apps, especially during the holiday shopping season. 

    Holiday Marketing Ideas to Leverage in 2024

    If you’re done spending weekends diving into a lake, then it’s the perfect time to dive into your holiday campaign planning.

    Here are 6 essential holiday marketing ideas to get you started. 

    1. Consider a Multi-Channel Strategy 

    A multi-channel strategy enables you to reach users across different platforms and channels. This is an essential strategy in today’s digital landscape because it enables you to achieve greater reach by capturing users wherever they are online. 

    The key to a successful multi-channel campaign is to create a cohesive message across all of your available channels. With the right mix, you’ll reach prospects wherever they are, and increase your brand’s visibility and consumer engagement. 

    The best part? Targeting multiple advertising channels is proven to lift the performance of campaigns when compared to those that run on only one channel. 

    For example, if a campaign is running video ads only, its potential reach will be limited to users on that channel. But if another channel (like native, for example) is added, potential campaign reach will grow because more users will be exposed to the ad. 

    2. Personalize Your Digital Holiday Campaigns

    According to McKinsey, companies that excel at personalization generate faster rates of revenue growth. This is because users today are looking for, and expect, a personalized experience online. 

    You can personalize your digital strategy by tailoring your messaging to an individual or a specific audience. 

    Start by defining your audience. Data plays an important role in this because it provides insights that give you an accurate picture of your customers. Demographic, behavioural, website, and transactional data can all be leveraged to help you personalize your digital marketing strategy. 

    From there, create customer profiles to help you identify what digital ads will perform best in reaching those profiles, and develop creative assets for your campaigns that speak directly toward those profiles. 

    3. Leverage New or Emerging Channels for Your Holiday Ads

    Ahead of a busy retail season, review the channels you typically leverage for your holiday campaigns, and see if there are opportunities to introduce new ones into the mix. Emerging channels that will help set your holiday campaigns apart include connected TV (CTV), audio, in-game, and digital out-of-home (DOOH) ads. 

    Connected TV 

    CTV is a valuable channel because it allows you to reach your audience in moments when they are highly engaged. When watching streamed content on a CTV device, a viewer has made the active choice to watch the programming, and in most cases, they don’t have the option to fast-forward or skip the ads. 

    CTV is a great addition to your holiday campaign strategy because it provides access to the open internet, enhanced targeting, and inventory selection. With CTV, you can cherry-pick and deliver ads to specific audiences beyond linear TV—even ones that are generally hard to reach, like Gen Z and cord-cutters. 

    Programmatic Audio 

    Digital audio commands a listener’s full attention. Listeners feel intimately connected to the content they are hearing, which allows for a better connection between a listener and a brand. When a programmatic audio ad comes on, listeners are more receptive, which creates the opportunity to drive engagement. Because of programmatic audio’s engaging nature, it’s the perfect channel for discovery. 

    During the holiday season, listeners are receptive to hearing about products or services that they haven’t encountered or purchased before. The personal nature of audio also results in ads having a lasting and memorable effect, with Nielsen Media Lab reporting that programmatic audio has a 24% higher recall rate than traditional display ads. Read our guide to programmatic audio advertising to learn more.

    In-Game Advertising

    The number of video game players worldwide is expected to surpass 3 billion in 2029, representing over a third of the world’s total population. In-game advertising enables ads to appear on digital objects like billboards and jerseys in mobile, computer, and video games. With in-game advertising, marketers have an opportunity to tap into this expansive and growing audience. Because in-game is an emerging programmatic channel, advertisers have the unique opportunity to experiment with new strategies to reach engaged audiences. 

    Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH)

    DOOH ads are any digital ads that are found outside the home and in a public environment. The classic example of a DOOH ad is an ad run on a billboard in Times Square. But the reality is, you can run DOOH campaigns on a variety of ad formats and sizes, from bus shelters to end caps in busy supermarkets. 

    During the holiday season, consumers are actively looking to purchase gifts. Place ads in areas with high foot traffic to build awareness over the holiday shopping season, like Mobsta did for Michael Kors

    4. Capture Attention With Interactive Ad Formats

    Creative and interactive ad formats—like rich media ads that encourage users to touch, swipe, drag, or play games—can help you capture the attention of your target audience and build awareness for your brand during the holiday season. 

    Some examples include: 

    • Discovery ads, which pose a question to the user based on a topic you’ve chosen. Their answers can help determine their interest or opinions, and clicks can be tracked to create retargeting pools.
    • Shoppable video ads, which showcase products while allowing a user to browse right in the banner. This ad format reduces the steps a user has to take between awareness and conversion. 
    • Dynamic countdown ads, which can be leveraged to inform or remind users about upcoming or current holiday sales. Adding a dynamic countdown can also help create a sense of urgency. 

    5. Tap Into the Power of Cookieless Targeting

    Santa might not like it when there are no cookies around, but that’s not necessarily the case for digital marketers. By adding contextual tactics to your holiday marketing mix, you can elevate your campaign results.

    Cookieless advertising targets ads based on the environment in which an ad appears. It uses machine learning and AI to target ad placements based on keywords, website content, and other metadata. This way, ads are shown to users based on the content they are consuming at that precise moment in time. 

    The best part? Cookieless targeting comes with many unique benefits. It helps you reach users in the right frame of mind, target niche audiences, access real-time metrics, and help build brand affinity. 

    6. Re-Engage Holiday Shoppers With Dynamic Retargeting

    With dynamic retargeting you can serve ads that feature the most recent product page that a user has visited. They’ll see a creative containing the exact item they viewed, reminding them of the product they showed interest in at some point in their online shopping journey. 

    This strategy differs from standard retargeting where generic ads are served to users who have visited your site. Standard retargeting ads remind the user of your brand message, while a dynamic retargeting ad reminds the user of the exact item they were looking at.

    Dynamic retargeting is a great mid- to lower-funnel tactic. Since the user has visited your site and viewed a specific item, you know that they are aware of your brand and have moved from the top to the middle of the funnel. During the holidays, when your ultimate goal is conversion, this tactic will help drive results. 

    Tis’ The Season for Holiday Marketing Tips

    We hope you find these holiday marketing ideas helpful. Use them to optimize or improve your previously successful holiday campaigns, or use them as a source of inspiration to try something new with programmatic advertising.

    Want to run exceptional holiday campaigns? Request a demo to learn more about StackAdapt.

    Ellie Denk
    Ellie Denk

    Content Marketing Intern

    StackAdapt

    Ellie Denk is a student at Marquette University pursuing a degree in English and Corporate Communications. She is the former Multimodal Editor of the Marquette Literary Review and is currently interning at StackAdapt to increase her understanding of the adtech industry.