Episode 4

How to Plan Your Holiday Marketing Campaigns

Illustration of Jessica Uttley, Director of Creative Services at StackAdapt

About This Episode

We discuss how consumers’ shopping habits have changed and offer strategies for holiday shopping campaigns as we head into the year’s busiest retail season.

Sam Jensen | Account Manager, Team Lead, StackAdapt

Jessica Uttley | Director of Creative Services, StackAdapt

Aanchal Bajaj | Manager, Solutions Consulting, StackAdapt



Episode Introduction (00:00:00)

We also need to think about combining a story across audio, video, native, display. When we combine all of these different touchpoints. It really allows the user to get to know the brand and the product. And again, it’s these multiple touch points that are ultimately going to converge into that conversion that we’re looking for, especially in the e-commerce space.

How Agencies Thrive Introduction (00:00:26)

Curious to know what industry-leading marketers are looking to achieve and the ever-evolving digital landscape that how agencies Thrive podcast by StackAdapt is dedicated to helping the new breed of forward-thinking savvy, lean and mean marketers win in the rapidly evolving digital landscape. Time to thrive.

Matt (00:00:54)

Last year’s holiday season was defined by uncertainty and limited in-store shopping options, and online shopping taken the spotlight. In this extra special episode, we’re joined by three leaders from StackAdapt to help you gain a holistic view on campaign planning, creative execution, building a winning audience strategy and attributing success in the upcoming retail season. Let’s face it, e-commerce is here to stay. And as the 2021 Holidays are rapidly approaching, retailers alike have had to re-envision how they approach not only their marketing, but how they can create immersive experiences online and offline, all without missing a beat. Not only under perspectives in this episode incredibly unique, but you’ll find that there are many strategic takeaways that will help you take your campaigns to new heights in the near future. As always, thank you for tuning in and enjoy this episode of The How Agencies Thrive podcast. Hey, everyone, welcome to today’s episode. My name is Matt Evered. I’m the host of the How Agencies Thrive podcast. And I’m also the Education and Development Manager at StackAdapt. This episode is all about winning strategies for the upcoming 2021 holiday season. And it’s a very special roundtable discussion because I’m joined by three other stack adapters to share their insights. In this episode, we have Sam Jensen, an account manager and an expert in B2C campaigns. Jess Uttley is the director of creative services and an expert in building winning ad units. And last but not least, we have Aanchal Bajaj, a senior analyst on our solutions team and an expert in all things audience identity and attribution. Overall, I’m very excited for this episode. And before we get started, I’d love to pass it over to our guests to hear a little bit about their backgrounds. So starting with you, Sam, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your experience in the programmatic space? How long have you been in the industry, and what do you consider to be your strongest area of expertise?

Sam (00:02:48)

Well, Matt, thanks for that awesome intro. By the way, this is Sam. And yes, you are correct that a lot of my background is in B2B but also have dabbled in some B2C. So prior to StackAdapt. I was actually working at ABM-focused DSP. So a lot of my strategy there, I was leading a lot of strategy across National Book. And I did that for about four years. So I kind of worked my way up starting in Ops, and built my way to strategic advising for a lot of these B2B brands. But that said, Matt, I do have some B2C knowledge. And that’s kind of the focus of this podcast. So I’ll be sure to to shift the focus for this.

Matt (00:03:38)

Thanks, Sam. We’re happy to have you on the episode. Jessica, I’ll pass it over to you next. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Jess (00:03:44)

Thanks, Matt. I’m Jess, as you mentioned, leading up our creative studio team here at StackAdapt. My background is heavily rooted in design and marketing, which I’ve been doing for over 10 years now. And been in the programmatic space for just over two and a half years where I’ve been able to shift the focus from design to more of the strategy, hence creative strategy. And that’s really where our team here at StackAdapt thrives is being able to blend technology design data in order to create these these winning ad units. So I’m really excited to talk about how we can bring that into the holiday season.

Matt (00:04:24)

Awesome, Jess, thanks so much. And last but not least Aanchal could tell us a little bit about yourself and your work on your team.

Aanchal (00:04:32)

Yeah, for sure. Thanks, Matt. So my background is more, so you know, from the marketing side, working with brands I worked closely with before StackAdapt. I work closely with healthcare brands in the marketing teams. But ever since you know, I have shifted towards the programmatic space at StackAdapt. I’ve been working really closely with a lot of retail and CPG brands as well as some you know B2B brands as well but to really hone in on custom targeting so lotions, you know, measurement solutions across different industries and verticals. So really happy to talk a little bit more today about some audience targeting options and measurement in the retail space for holiday.

Matt (00:05:13)

Absolutely. Thanks so much. And as mentioned, in this episode, we’re talking about the 2021 holiday season. And the area we’re going to focus on is what we learned during the unprecedented retail season of 2020. How consumer habits have changed and how the shift to building an immersive online shopping experience for consumers over the last 18 months will impact 2020 One’s biggest shopping season. Really, I’m interested to hear the unique perspective that each of our guests brings from a campaign perspective to an audience’s perspective keeping the creatives perspective, to start things off. I’m interested to hear from from each of you. If we think back to 2020. You know, almost two years ago, the majority of businesses had to change their efforts to support online shopping, especially for the past holiday season. How well do each of you think the industry adjusted?

Sam (00:06:07)

You know, I think it definitely varies, Matt, because if you remember when the pandemic started, there was that initial shock wave and scaleback of budgets, and I saw that across a lot of teams. But over time, obviously, whoa, as we adjusted, you started to see bigger retailers succeed. I think Mom and Pop retailers did pretty well, kind of adjusting to the increasing supply of like, you know, social advertising opportunities, but big retailers succeeded you look at the Nikes and Under Armour as the targets and Home Depot’s this whole pandemic kind of thrust them into a digital strategy that they were already planning. And now it’s kind of made them a little bit rest, less reliant on things like wholesalers. They’re a lot leaner with a direct-to-consumer strategy. So I think there were some definite winners, smaller businesses, it was kind of in between. But overall, I think, you know, everybody eventually was able to pivot their messaging and become more efficient. In terms of their operations.

Jess (00:07:16)

I actually just wanted to jump in because you mentioned messaging. And I think that’s where there was a big adjustment, especially on the creative side. And I think we’re you saw people want when was where the advertisers took their messaging from such a sales heavy pushing sales focus, to a focus on positivity connection, how can we help. And I think that’s one way that advertisers did a really great job last year. And I think that’s something we’ll continue to see into 2021 as well.

Aanchal (00:07:46)

Yeah. And just to add on, and echo a lot of what Sam was saying, I think in general, compared to other industries, retail is definitely one of the industries that’s a lot faster at adapting to change, especially in this last year, as you know, shoppers were switching to e-commerce platforms, retailers, and brands, were also quick to adopt a lot of new solutions. So obviously, you know, the giants like Amazon and Walmart, that were already on digital channels, those did continue to do great, but a lot of retailers that adopted, you know, innovative solutions, like click and collect or curbside pickup, you know, offering better payment solutions, like buy now pay later was huge in 2020. So, you know, any brands that were able to kind of keep up with these digital solutions kind of fared really well and are going to continue to do so this year and beyond as well.

Matt (00:08:32)

Absolutely. And I have sort of a secondary question for everybody. And it has to do with this notion of how uncertain things were in D think that this notion of uncertainty impacted campaign strategies. And, you know, if we think back to it, especially in Canada, balls were intermittently open, most stores were doing curbside pickup, and a lot of consumers had to start their shopping early to actually accommodate increased shipping time. So with, you know, how uncertain things were, do you think advertisers had to inform a campaign strategy that could sort of just to both scenarios, if things were going to be open, or things were going to remain closed?

Sam (00:09:17)

Yeah, definitely. I think you started to see teams planning a lot sooner. To your point, Matt, obviously, with increased delivery times means that kind of pushes your your campaign timelines forward or back, however you look at it just earlier in, in the cycle. So yeah, I think that was that was one of the big things you highlighted there.

Matt (00:09:38)

So moving on here, I’m interested to know, you know, still staying in the frame of mind of the 2020 holiday season. What surprised everybody the most about this season? And more to that what were some campaigns that either you worked on firsthand, or you observed from afar that you know risk drove a lot of impact and wondering this uncertain time.

Sam (00:10:03)

A few things that surprised me. Not so much the evolution of messaging but how certain companies adapted, and one of the more interesting campaigns I can remember from the 2020 season was that Miller Lite campaign about the no more awkward holiday work parties. I don’t know if any of you recall that campaign. But it was, you know, you saw you started to see a lot of creative messaging, pivot towards togetherness and valuing your family. But with everybody doing that messaging, how do you stand out so Miller Light actually took like, a more humorous tone to the whole thing, and a lighter tone. So it was surprising to see the ways different advertisers, were conveying that same message of you know, we’re all in this together. We’re all going to get through this type of thing. It didn’t always have to be this super dramatic Coca-Cola commercial, you know.

Jess (00:11:01)

Yeah, say, I totally agree with you there. And yeah, we definitely saw some creative executions from a lot of different advertisers. And part of that is part of what surprised me was just the creativity and the willingness to adapt. And on that same token, I was actually surprised by the amount of advertisers who are willing to try different channels like CTV, for example, we definitely saw a huge uptick in CTV creatives and CTV campaigns, when we’re trying to create that emotional connection, as opposed to creating a sale, you know, from pushing promotions and that sort of thing. So, you know, that ad from Miller Lite, that you mentioned, Sam, that was a video campaign, and those were the types of things that people were interested in consuming for entertainment, to escape from their current situation, to dream about what the future could be when things, you know, change for the better, hopefully. And I think that’s, that’s what really surprised me, it’s just the way that people were able to adapt so quickly, and they were willing to do so. And I think that also speaks to how so many advertisers were able to continue to be successful. I think it’s the ones who were able to, to make those quick changes. That saw a lot of success.

Sam (00:12:15)

Yeah, Jessie, I want to build off that really quick. And it kind of goes back to Matt’s point about uncertainty. There was a lot of uncertainty around TV during that time. I think that as a channel was probably the most Question one, because you think about it. q4 is the highest, you know that that’s the time of year for linear TV. So with no sports, nothing being scheduled programming was just not stacked. You saw a lot of digital channels start to surface. And now this year, I think we’re going to have TV, this could be a very deciding moment for linear TV. But you’re starting to see publishers hedge their bets by doing these blended type of deals where they’re not just selling linear TV, but also, you know, CTV, any type of OTT option. So I’m glad you brought that up. Because I think Q4, it’ll be really interesting to see what’s going to happen to TV and what the future will hold for it.

Aanchal (00:13:17)

Yeah, for sure. You know, it was there’s a lot of like, change that happened last year. But I think what was to me, anyways, kind of a surprise was actually how well the holiday season did in general, like from a high level industry perspective. You know, despite what a lot people might think, holiday sales actually shot up about seven to 10% in 2029, in 2020, a lot of which was obviously driven by e-commerce. But the thing that was a little bit unique about last year is how long, the holiday season kind of dragged out. So you know, usually, when you think of holiday shopping, it’s really centered around, you know, it starts around that cyber week, time and drags into late November, December. But last year, what really changed the game was kind of how Amazon Prime Day got moved to October. And so what that really did is, again, kind of echoing what Simon just were saying, the whole industry adapted really quickly. And you know, sales started dragging on started much earlier discounts were starting much earlier and kind of carrying on with that trend of early shopping. So I think that’s going to persist this year as well, to be honest, because a lot of customers kind of realize that, you know, shipping delays are still continuing to happen and things like that. So starting to shop for their holiday presents. And you know, holiday shopping earlier on in the year is definitely a change that we saw last year that I think will continue this year as well.

Matt (00:14:33)

That’s actually a perfect transition into the next question that I had sort of talking about this role that in-store shopping is going to play as well as online shopping. And leading up to the episode, there is a document that StackAdapt has called evolving beyond the crisis for CPG marketers, and there was an interesting notion in there from Adweek that says that the roles of have stores and digital are actually reversing, meaning that digital advertising is becoming increasingly immersive these online shopping experiences are becoming a lot more intuitive than they used to be. And delivering that customer experience is almost happening more at home now than it is in store. So without in mind, I’m interested to know, do any of you agree with this disagree with this? Or do you think that in-store shopping, despite everything still holds this really important place for the retail experience?

Aanchal (00:15:33)

I think I definitely do agree with as to you know, to a certain extent, a lot of retailers have realized that, you know, this digital trend is here to stay. And it is kind of the new normal going forward. And while in person shopping still does provide that unique experience. Many shoppers even post-pandemic are going to continue to you know, prefer online just because it’s more convenient and provides a wider range of options. So it’s important, now more than ever, for retail brands to kind of start adopting more omni-channel solutions, to try to provide that seamless shopping experience even online. So, for example, a lot of brands have adopted, you know, things like augmented reality for virtual triathlons, or social media has become a big kind of central theme here, you know, live streaming and shoppable content, or shoppable, creatives start to become a lot bigger. And so from a targeting perspective, it’s really important for marketers to kind of start adopting these more cross channel strategies so that you’re reaching your shoppers where they’re spending most of their time. So, you know, for example, the drastic change towards digital channels, you know, incorporating things like inventory, like mobile, CTV, digital, audio, and even things like in-game are, you know, really creative ways to kind of start effectively, you know, having these upper-funnel awareness and prospecting strategies. So yeah, I think in-store has its place, but this e-commerce shift is definitely, you know, going to be huge going forward.

Jess (00:16:56)

I think, to your point, Omni channel is the key word here, where we make the mistake is when we’re talking about digital and in-store as two separate pieces, where I think the way that we need to shift our thinking is that they are one whole experience for the customer. In that, you know, thinking about buying online and pick up in-store, I don’t think that’s going to be going away anytime soon. If anything, it’s just increasing the convenience for the consumer. And that’s ultimately the name of the game. Now its convenience, its speed, its reliability. But where the change is shifting, as Matt, you mentioned in your question, is that the roles of each are shifting a little bit where in the past discovery of products and brands used to happen in-store more and more of that is happening online, I think there will always be people who prefer to shop in a physical space. But I think that a lot more of that product and brand discovery is happening online. And we’ve seen that a lot with the creatives that are being developed even over on the StackAdapt platform. We’re seeing things like interactive display ads that allow users to explore products in detail, immersive video and audio that provide guidance and how to use we’re seeing CTV ads that you can actually engage with instead of just view passively. So I think that’s where the shift is really happening is in that discovery and research phase where that’s happening digitally. And then, you know, the sales or the actual purchase itself, the transactional part of the journey is happening more so either digitally or physically, it just depends on what the user is looking for.

Sam (00:18:30)

Yeah, there’s, there’s so much to unpack with it. Because yes, I agree with that challenge, yes, that this experience is going to be one experience, you have to view the customer journey as a bunch of touch points, and you have to connect those touch points. So the in-store experience might just be kind of like viewing a billboard, there is something special to holding a product and interacting with the product. So maybe, I think you’re starting to see a lot of like DTC brands have stores that are inventory lists out front, but you can interact with the products, and it’s a continuation of that digital discovery experience. And, Jess, you know, on a, to your point creatively, I think we’re going to see, you know, a lot more of our recommendation-type creatives as well. Maybe suggesting, like dynamic retargeting campaigns that suggest combinations of gifts that people often buy that they wouldn’t even expect. We wouldn’t even expect them to be like combinations of products that people would buy. So things like that are going to be important as well. But I just want to say that the in store experience, I don’t think it’s going away. I think it’ll just be almost like advertising for the actual like, digital store where people do all the research.

Matt (00:19:56)

It’s a really good point, Sam because one store that I can think of that as you, as you called it, inventory lists in, in Canada, we have struct tube and you go in there and you can check out different pieces of furniture. But you know, at the end of the day, you have to place that order and get it either shipped to the store or have it shipped to your house. So I agree that, you know, for consumers, it’s very important to go in and actually have some hands-on time with the product. But it’s almost this hybrid situation now where you can give customers those experiences, but you can also, you know, really focus on the e-commerce strategy and drive sales that way. I guess on that note, I think we should take a quick break. And then when we come back, we can talk a little bit more about what the 2021 season is going to look like and some strategies that each of you have for marketers to use to win.

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Matt (00:21:30)

Welcome back, everybody. As mentioned at the beginning of the episode, we’re joined by Sam Jensen, Jess Utley, and Aanchal Bajaj. For this half of the half of the episode, I really want to shine a light on some of the biggest trends we’ve seen in the last year. And that’s e-commerce. And we talked a little bit about this before the break. But because the retail environment has become this hybrid of in-store and online shopping, do each of you think that e-commerce will still dominate this year? Yeah, 100%.

Sam (00:22:03)

I don’t think it’s going anywhere, I think the pandemic just accelerated a trend that was already on its way. So you’re gonna see, even small businesses start to go towards e-commerce, you’re gonna see more verticals, becoming shoppable. Online, you’re gonna see like, you know, common sense would say, if you’re going to buy an expensive product, like a car, you’re not going to do that online. But nowadays, it’s entirely possible to do that, because of just how much information is available. And on top of it, it’s just way too cost-effective for companies to not prioritize e-commerce. Like I said, Nike and Under Armour shut down a bunch of like these, or they closed the doors on a bunch of their wholesalers to kind of lean on a direct-to-consumer strategy. So it’s much leaner for companies in terms of operating costs. And, again, it closes the loop because that’s where all the traffic is, in 2020. It was a record number of app downloads, people are spending their time on mobile devices, people are spending their time browsing. So you can’t ignore that. And I’m sure Jessie and I tell my echo that. But yeah, curious to see everyone’s thoughts.

Aanchal (00:23:23)

Know, for sure. E-commerce is not going anywhere, it’s definitely just going to continue to grow. And it is, you know, kind of the future of retail for sure. But kind of just echoing what we were talking about earlier to similarly, like in-store shopping is also not going anywhere, anytime soon. I think the piece that is super important that was mentioned earlier, too, is kind of trying to optimize that online to offline, holistic customer experience. And with this, like boom, in e-commerce, the thing that’s becoming really important is for marketers to adapt more, you know, like online targeting and marketing strategies. The one unique thing that you know, a lot of marketers are struggling to adapt with right now specifically is kind of this change in the privacy landscape. So you know, with cookies potentially going away in the future changes to in-app targeting, and all of these different things, to kind of keep up with that personalization piece. With this e-commerce boom, a lot of marketers are, you know, putting a lot more effort in gathering their 1st-party data, you know, doing more personalized targeting strategies that are able to continue that effect that efficacy that e-commerce targeting was bringing last year into this like future of you know, privacy, like no cookies. So I think like, with e-commerce continuing to grow, marketers need to continue to be adaptive with these new strategies and stuff as well.

Jess (00:24:39)

And just to echo my colleagues couldn’t agree more. Of course, e-commerce is here to stay. I think to Sam’s point, the pandemic really just accelerated what was already coming. But I think what’s interesting about it is, I don’t want to say people were forced, but people tried things that they may not have otherwise tried, you know, speaking anecdotally My own parents and grandparents were never really interested in shopping online. And now that they have, and they see how easy and convenient it is, it’s something that they’re going to continue to do regardless of whether they can shop in-store or not. And I think that’s the case for a lot of people when it comes to 2021. Now, I think where the challenges lie is that last year, we were talking about what surprised us. And you know how so many advertisers have more, so the bigger advertisers or bigger brands were able to shift and adapt, I think this year, more of the smaller and mid-tier, companies were able to now also adapt. So it means the market is very crowded for e-commerce and retail in general has always been fairly crowded. But I think the challenge this year is going to be twofold is going to be standing out, you know, making sure your offer is known people know they can go to you and get those convenient things that they’re looking for. Whether that be money-back guarantee, free shipping, buy online, pick up in-store, that’s going to be key, and making sure people know that you have those things available. But I think also the other trick is going to be the supply chain issues that we’ve been seeing. So making sure that your consumers know that you have stock available or maybe even driving urgency to shop early. I think those are where we’re going to see opportunities this year. And yeah, definitely, I think standing out, of course, I think creatives are the way to do that. But I will be interested to see what advertisers are coming up with this year and how we can help them. But already we’ve seen holiday campaigns ramping up.

Sam (00:26:38)

Yeah, that convenience factor, I think is going to be huge. Even in the in-store sense. Like we talked about how stores will evolve, I think it’s going to be centred all around that convenience aspect. And until hinted at that with like a lot of their automated, you know, checkout processes or, you know, they have like automated kiosks that basically know who you are, and they can suggest products. And Jess, I think with creatives this year, you’re going to see a lot more of decision-making being done for people, recommendations, again, of combinations of products, or gift guides or things like that, that really inform and kind of push us towards a decision because I think Indecision is one of the biggest plagues of the holiday season. I never know what to get my parents, for example. And the other point you brought up that I wanted to talk about quick was don’t sleep on the older crowd. They do, actually, they have become a little bit more tech-savvy during this pandemic, so like you mentioned, even my parents, they’re there, they fall in the retirees crowd. But they’re doing a lot of their shopping online now too. So don’t miss out on those age demographics when you’re running a campaign because they’re online, too.

Matt (00:27:58)

Now, before we got to the break, everybody touched a little bit on strategy. And in this half of the episode, I’m interested to know that, from each perspective, what advice would you offer brands looking to focus their efforts online this year? So I’m all I’m interested to know is your thoughts on the solutions perspective, just from the creative perspective. And finally, Sam, looking at things from a holistic campaign perspective.

Jess (00:28:22)

Sure, I can kick it off. So from a creative perspective, I mean, there are so many different routes to take. So it really can be brand-specific. But to get on more of a generalized level, I would say, be creative and stand out, we there are so many different ways to be interactive and engaging with your advertising, especially in programmatic. So I would say look for those opportunities to go outside of the box a little bit. And definitely thinking about not just pushing sales. But as we as we’ve talked about that discovery phase is really becoming a digital piece now. So I think it’s important to think about how people are discovering your brand, and then your products. So taking them through all the way from beginning to end telling that story. I also think it’s important to note that it’s more than just product features that people are interested in, especially now. What about your social impact your environmental impact, so thinking about what makes your brand stand out? I know it’s kind of marketing 101. But I think this holiday season with so many products in the digital space in front of consumers, those are going to be the things that make a difference. But even on top of that, I think they’re you know, as Sam said, though, that personalization, those recommendations, those are going to be key as well. Being able to help guide shoppers a little bit again in this very crowded space. If you’re able to take a little bit of that decision fatigue away whether it be through dynamic retargeting through gift guides, I think that will be super beneficial. But ultimately, it’s just don’t sleep on your advertising saying that it’s the brands who are out there that are going to be noticed.

Aanchal (00:30:02)

Yeah, and I think just segueing off of that measurement and attribution are going to be really huge. And, you know, I think it’s important, especially as we continue to kind of navigate this hybrid landscape of both e-commerce and in-store, measuring the impact of your campaigns, in both places, is going to be super important. So you know, from e-commerce, for example, like pixeling, your checkout pages, or you know, your pay now buttons to kind of really determine the impact your campaigns are having on things like requests, but also for offline sales. People are going back into stores and malls and things like that, measuring foot traffic and measuring in store visitation. obv is a really great way to understand kind of, you know, your customers behaviours, and then adapt your campaign strategies accordingly. And another thing that really was impacted throughout this last year with e-commerce is the fact that because now, it’s a lot easier for people to explore different products and brands, things like brand loyalty have been dwindling a little bit. So as you know, marketers are putting a lot of effort into these, like awareness and, you know, branding campaigns, measuring brand, lift and brand perception are also is also a really great way to kind of go beyond that generic, like impression and clicked level KPIs, but also measuring your brand success through perception. So yeah, measurement and attribution are definitely like huge pieces that I think it’s important for marketers to incorporate into their strategy.

Sam (00:31:29)

Yeah, and I think you both just kind of rolled up what I was gonna say, from a high level is, you know, closing the loop creatively with a story, you have a TV ad continue that, you know, digitally, things like that, you know, in terms of optimizations you would make from a campaigns perspective or setups? I’d say the same rules still apply. And the big difference, again, is what channels can you leverage to stand out? How can you be convenient for the client, and your timing is important, and how you’re pivoting the messaging, again, because it’s going to be all about standing out, people are going to be spending a lot of time on mobile devices. Maybe you look into things like rewarded video or some other type of high-impact media that’s friendly with phones, maybe you look into targeting owners of certain apps to determine behaviour, because of the increase in mobile traffic, and app downloads and things like that, that’s really expanded the ability to like, deliver across segments that are related to mobile, and then you can kind of capture that interest that way. So as Jess and Charles said, there’s really creative ways to kind of, to think outside the box a little bit.

Jess (00:32:46)

Sammy just touched on such an important point that I failed to mention. And that is, oftentimes, we’re thinking about you know, which channel is best? Is it CTV? Is it display? Is it native? And I think we forget that all of these channels should really be working together. You know, we’ve been talking about digital and physical spaces in terms of omni channels. But I think when it comes to programmatic strategy strategies, multi-channel is really where it’s at. Not everybody consumes digital content in the same way. So if you’re really trying to reach as many people as possible, and have as many people engage with your brand as possible, then you need to reach them in multiple ways, as Sam mentioned, whether that be mobile, or desktop, but beyond the devices, I think we also need to think about combining a story across audio, video, native display, when we combine all of these different touchpoints. It really allows the user to get to know the brand and the product. And again, it’s these multiple touch points that are ultimately going to converge into that conversion that we’re looking for, especially in the e-commerce space. And then of course, speaking to kind of programmatic opportunities here. We were talking a little bit about uncertainty earlier. And I think there’s something to be said that there still is some uncertainty this year. And I think where programmatic shines is the ability to quickly toggle ON, OFF, pause, change your creatives at the click of a button. And I think that smart advertisers this year will have multiple creative executions at their fingertips so that they can switch them out as needed, depending on where things end up.

Matt (00:34:29)

I do have another question for everybody. And we talked about a little bit earlier in the episode but this notion of empathy and building messaging around that. Do any of you think that even 18 months, almost two years later, it’s still for marketers really about showing that you understand the situation that everybody’s going through and not you as a brand are there for your consumers during the holiday season? Is that something that’s important now, or have we kind of moved away from that now that the world is starting to open up?

Jess (00:35:03)

I can speak to that a little bit on the on the creative side especially. So I will say it’s not exactly like it was in 2020. I don’t think we have to tip-toe quite so gently as we did last year. But I still think that there is room for empathetic messaging. And there are still people who are suffering and who have been through so much because of everything that’s been going on. So I think that there’s no harm and it’s the safer route to use that empathetic messaging. I think it still has a space today. But I will say I think there is some pandemic fatigue, where we’re just kind of tired of talking about it. And we do kind of want to go back to normal. So while I don’t think it is necessarily the best strategy to go back to the way that we were pre-pandemic, in terms of our messaging, I think it’s important to take a lighthearted tone. And to think about, you know, where people’s mindsets are now, I think we need to be sensitive. But we can push the envelope a little bit more this year, where we were kind of walking on eggshells last year, this year, I think there’s a lot more room for humour for things that aren’t pandemic related and can step outside of that box a little bit.

Sam (00:36:14)

Yeah, I want to build on this really a lot. I think, you know, that sensitive messaging, again, is definitely relevant, Jess, but it’s kind of like hanging out by the shark coterie boards at the at, you know, the corporate party like you’ll be safe there the whole time, and you’ll probably enjoy yourself. But there is fatigue to that you you definitely kind of want it. That’s the comfort zone. Right. So one thing that I think will evolve this year in the messaging is people will capitalize on emerging trends. I think a lot of people picked up new hobbies over the pandemic, there’s a whole lot more hikers and golfers out there, for example, those are just two examples. But I think you’re gonna see messaging kind of start to pivot towards those hobbies that we picked up even during this time, or, you know, lots of new homeowners, for example, maybe there’s room for a Home Depot to advertise, do it yourself projects and materials for that’s again, just examples. But that’s going to be, I think, the key in 2021.

Aanchal (00:37:18)

Yeah, and I will just add on to that and say, you know, throughout the pandemic, there was a lot of, you know, people were going through a lot of like financial changes and like kind of turmoil. So there is like a notion of kind of revenge shopping right now, people are looking to kind of treat themselves and, you know, spend money that they have been saving up over the last year, either because, you know, they were being conscious about their spending, or just, you know, people weren’t really buying things because they had nowhere to go or nothing to do. So I think a lot of messaging around kind of spending on yourself. Splurging, treating yourself are a lot of narratives that we are seeing with a lot of retailers as well. So I think kind of shifting towards that, again, kind of, um, happier. Narrative is definitely going to be more important, I think.

Matt (00:38:03)

Absolutely. Well, thanks, everyone, for this, I think, a great way to end this episode, because we’ve you know, we’ve talked about the past, we talked about 2020, talked about the present 2021, the upcoming season. Now, I’m interested to know about the future. So if we think about, you know, the 2022 holiday shopping season, do you think that the impact of the last two years will be lasting? Or is it more of a footnote and things will just go back to the status quo once the world is fully opened up, fingers crossed? Or do we think that this is going to continue to impact the way we market during the holiday season?

Sam (00:38:45)

I think this strategy will definitely change, Matt, the retail strategy, obviously becoming more digital. And we’ve kind of harped on the messaging thing. But I think what’s really going to be interesting to see again, is how, like, those traditional channels kind of rebound. I’m, I’m going to be watching TV. And by that, I mean watching the state of TV and q4 Because that’s really going to determine where it’s going to go from there. And where advertisers are going to start taking their dollars. And I keep up with I’m a TV guy I came from, you know, I worked at NBC Sports for a while. And I know that on the big shows, they really negotiate high ad prices and to deliver well on these ad price increases, you’re starting to see major networks start to encompass the digital realm as well. So that’s kind of I’m excited to see the impact on like traditional channels like that and how that’s going to evolve as well as, you know, how stores might change too. And we talked about that as well.

Jess (00:39:50)

Yeah, I’d say there’s no going back now I definitely don’t think we’re going backwards at any point. Wait now that people have, again, we’ve talked about this a little bit. But now that people have realized that convenience and the options and the fact that consumers are seeing that brands will adapt, I think what we can expect for the future is very high consumer expectations, which will drive high innovation from brands. And I’m really excited to see what that looks like in 2022. I think the digital experiences, again, talking about brand and product discovery online is just going to continue to expand and become even more immersive and interactive. And yeah, I just think that, again, not going backwards, we’re only going forwards. And I think if there’s one thing we can take out of all of this stuff that we’ve been through is that there’s a huge drive in innovation, and that we will persevere through it all.

Aanchal (00:40:48)

Yeah, I mean, just to echo all of that, brands that are going to continue adapting are the ones that are going to thrive. So just kind of what we’ve seen last year, and this year, that that change towards digital is going to be the new normal. So for sure, not going backwards. Just more growth in e-commerce from now on, for sure.

Matt (00:41:07)

Well, you know what I think this puts us at time for our episode. So on behalf of myself and our listeners, I wanted to thank you three, again, for sharing your expertise. And I’m definitely excited to see what creative campaigns come out this holiday season. And for any marketers that are gearing up, we hope that you took away some valuable insights from either the campaign perspective, solutions perspective or even the creatives perspective. So until then, thanks, everyone for tuning in. And thanks to our guests for joining.

Episode Outro (00:41:43)

Thank you so much for tuning in. This has been the How Agencies Thrive podcast. If you liked what you heard, then there’s three things that you can do to support the show. Number one, subscribe. Number two, leave us a review. And number three, share our podcast on social media or with anyone who might find value in this content. If you have questions or feedback, we’d love to learn how agencies or brands work with StackAdapt, find us at www.stackadapt.com. Thanks for listening, and I’ll see you next time.

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