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Unwrapping Holiday TV Ad Tips


The holiday season comes with a considerable amount of advertising noise. But for years, brands have cut through the clutter and effectively reached target consumers with the right creative and media strategies in place. 

So, what are those time-tested best practices? By examining how brands approached the Thanksgiving holiday this year, key tips and takeaways for maximizing the impact of holiday shopping TV advertising emerged.

Tip #1: Identify Optimal Programs to Maximize Reach

Thanksgiving is one of the biggest TV viewing days of the year. That makes reach simpler, in some respects. But costs can add up if brands only opt for the obvious programs – NFL games, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, National Dog Show, college football – with the largest ad impressions footprint.

Real-time TV ad measurement leading up to and during the holidays gives advertisers a leg up in finding optimal reach opportunities within ad budgets. For instance, Friends was the No. 5 program for holiday-related household TV ad impressions from Nov. 23-27 this year, while Yellowstone was No. 6, House Hunters was No. 7 and Law & Order: SVU was No. 8. These shows may not scream “holidays,” yet audiences tuned in for extended stretches of time and advertisers found potential shoppers for a much lower price than the premium holiday events. 

Obviously brands can – and should – still buy ad impressions during big events, but the key to success is finding the right mix of premium and standard reach drivers. With that, brands also find sizable audiences during holiday-specific programming that doesn’t carry the price point of football games. For instance, Hallmark and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries delivered more than 8% of holiday-related ad impressions from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, focused entirely on holiday programming.

Tip #2: Keep Tabs on the Competition

Share of voice is important all year round, but for many advertisers, there’s even more weight attached to the holiday shopping season. As shoppers make their lists and check them twice, being top-of-mind is key to converting those needed December sales. 

If Apparel Brand A decides to slow-play the start of the holidays, it cedes mindshare to Apparel Brand B by the end of Cyber Monday, and there goes the season. Advertisers can’t afford to lose share of voice, or lose sight of where competition is advertising.

From Nov. 23-27 this year, brands like Home Depot, Lowe’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods saw significant growth in share of holiday TV ad impressions. Without a comprehensive measurement solution that captures the entire TV ad landscape, advertisers are left in the dark when it comes to understanding how their ad presence stacks up against the competition. Armed with competitive insights, brands can make the appropriate tweaks to ad placements and messaging to ensure holiday ad success.

That leads to the final tip…

Tip #3: Ensure Ad Relevance

Why fly blind on whether creative is effective and relevant when brands can test and benchmark holiday ads to make sure the intended message breaks through with consumers? 

iSpot Creative Assessment empowers brands with insight into what stands out in a given ad, the resulting emotions, purchase intent, brand recognition and more. For advertisers targeting a specific audience, responses can be narrowed there as well, so there’s no question those dollars are being put toward messaging that correlates directly with what those consumers are looking for.

Take some of the top holiday-themed ads that aired during Thanksgiving week. Macy’s drove Likeability success with “A Gift for Santa” by sparking nostalgic sentiment. iSpot Creative Assessment data reveals the spot outperformed 90-day retail TV ad norms across persuasion components, but most notably on Likeability (21% above norm) and Attention (+16%) – which combined indicate strong breakthrough capability. The message and storyline connected with audiences, but did not take away from Brand Recognition as 74% of viewers accurately identified “Macy’s” as the advertiser (in line with industry norms). 

Meanwhile, Reese’s “O Reese’s Trees” nabbed attention (12% higher than the candy & snack norm in the last 90 days), while eliciting a strong “love it” reaction from survey respondents. Even better, the product itself was overwhelmingly seen as the Single Best Thing about the ad, while it received a Brand Recognition score of 88% – far outpacing the industry norm of 61%.

Put a bow on TV advertising during the holidays and beyond. Reach out about a demo today to learn more about real-time, comprehensive TV ad measurement and creative assessment from iSpot.