Why do Paid Social advertisers stop for Christmas? With users having more downtime to spend online, there's never a better time to capture their attention. Amy Cox clues us in on Q5.
What is "Q5"? Why brands should still be advertising over Christmas
Historically, retailers switch off advertising just before Christmas – especially on the likes of Paid Social – however this is something that should be reconsidered by brands. The time between Christmas and going into the New Year is now known as “Q5”, and it’s a time that brands should be capitalising on.
Why should brands be capitalising on Q5?
Due to a lot of retailers switching off, this is actually a really cheap time of year where there’re cheaper costs and less competition. Brands have this preconception that users don’t go on their socials throughout this period however, it’s quite the opposite. People will still be on social media – and it may even heighten in this period due to many people having some well-deserved time off to do some guilt-free scrolling! They may take the opportunity to share more of their lives during this busy and exciting time – Christmas with their families & friends, socialising, celebrating the New Year, etc.
All this adds up to users spending more time on social media to share their own Christmas events, as well as take a peek into everyone else's! So, how should brands set themselves up to advertise over Christmas?
What should brands focus on in Q5?
It’s a great period for all phases of the funnel – from utilising the cheaper CPMs to grow awareness of your brand, to showcasing certain products that may be in the Boxing Day sales to push conversions. It may even be starting that New Year message – what’s going to be different about next year, what can a consumer change within their life (with your help!)?
When looking at driving awareness, you can utilise all social media platforms with the right ad formats. For Facebook and Instagram, it’s recommended to create video content for sound off but excite with sound on – maybe including subtitles if needed. Have a clear message and keep the content to no more than 15 seconds. Branding is to be included within the first 3 seconds and it’s key to include asset customisation per placement to give a user the best immersive creative experience. For Twitter, it’s about being a part of the conversation so it’s important to remember the importance and relevancy of hashtags here.
TikTok, however, is one of the current fastest growing social platforms. Where this platform was predominantly being utilised for awareness driving activity, this is slowly becoming a place for brands to push those lower conversions through the use of user-generated content (UGC). This type of content can then be repurposed on the likes of IG Stories and Reels – so it’s a good way to get some testing in place. Twitter can also be a good way to drive users to your site and get people engaging with your brand through their conversational ad formats.
When looking at the lower funnel phases, Facebook and Instagram are great platforms to leverage by focussing on statics to drive users to your site within their Consideration stage, and finally tapping into retargeting ad formats to drive the conversions over the line.
It’s also a key time for brands to be putting themselves in front of a consumer for planning stages – in particular with Pinterest. Pinterest is such a great place to plan, as the whole platform is based on visually appealing to users, who start using the platform to plan for Christmas as early as April! If pushing your New Year message is your goal for Q5, Pinterest is a great place to be to capture users looking for inspiration.
As a minimum, for any platform, it’s recommended to have an always-on dynamic campaign so that a user is being shown products relevant to them, however, it’s best practice to include other content with different KPIs so that a brand is being considered at every stage of a consumer journey. You may want to focus on building brand awareness with reach-based KPIs but adding in targets around conversions will bring in visibility and learnings for the rest of the year ahead.
Include videos to raise brand awareness and highlight any offers and new launches – even if these things are upcoming rather than currently live. Promote carousels to showcase multiple images of products in one ad format and push users to your site within a consideration stage. Finally, be present for retargeting purposes – capture users who need that little push to make a purchase. It’s also a great time to reward loyal customers by utilising email lists and giving users a special offer to get the edge over other brands offering discounts and boxing day sale prices.
It’s also important to take into consideration what’s happening in the world at the present time. The pandemic has really altered consumer behaviour, so it’s important for advertisers to keep up to date with what’s going on. Will people be more inclined to stay at home? Should brands therefore be capitalising on digital marketing and advertising in order to showcase their products? Do we know what the next year is going to hold? In reality, we simply don't know! However, we can plan as best we can and ensure that a brand is present for a user regardless of what happens.
As we enter the Christmas period under a great deal of uncertainty, with rumours of firebreak lockdowns and many of us choosing to voluntarily isolate in the run-up to the big day, it’s best to be prepared with alternative messaging you can switch out as and when is needed. Prepare different versions of your ads that are sensitive and relevant to possible scenarios.
For example, are you a clothing brand with a collection of party outfits, ready to promote for New Year's Eve celebrations? If your messaging is focussed on "going out", consider changing to accommodate those who are staying in too, and be prepared to switch to messaging that fits with any last-minute restrictions that are put in place! You may only need to use one, but it saves having to rush through alternatives at the final moment (when I’m sure you and your team would prefer to be enjoying your own time off)!
So, why aren’t retailers live at this time of year?
Not running ads around Christmas is the easy option, simply due to the limitation of having people out of office during the Christmas period, and brands worrying about something going wrong. However, if you have your campaigns set up correctly then this isn’t likely to happen. Most advertisers don’t look at their activity over weekends or bank holidays, therefore why do people get more concerned over this period? At ClickThrough, we have skeleton cover over the period after Christmas so that campaigns are being checked and we can keep an eye on performance for our clients. This is enough to ensure a pair of eyes is always on each of our clients' campaigns over the festive period, who can call in for backup if any major changes are needed.
The main thing would be to highlight that it’s key to be organised, linking back to my points in my “Why you should start your Black Friday planning now” blog. As long as everything is ready and ads are all scheduled ahead of the holiday time off, then the platforms can do their thing! One of the main drawbacks we see as specialists is that some advertisers just don’t fully trust the platforms, however, the platform algorithms are so sophisticated now that we are able to trust them – and it’s what we should be doing!
A lot of advertisers plan so much for Christmas that they forget consumers will always be thinking about the next thing. It’s not the best practice to have so much planning for Black Friday and Christmas to then not be on the ball when it comes to Q5 and moving into the new year! It’s also not recommended to come back in the New Year and rush to set a campaign live without proper planning. Those retailers that would have planned their Q5 approach will be winning with the competition as they have been present throughout with a solid strategy.
How can a brand be live in this period?
As previously mentioned, it’s all about being prepared and having everything signed off and scheduled ahead of any time off for the advertisers. An emergency contact should be available for the days that aren’t bank holidays – just in case – who can check on campaigns just to make sure there aren’t any issues.
With less than one week to go till the big day, it may be too late for some retailers to get a plan in place now, however, this is something that to include in next year’s planning for brands. Be there, be present and be relevant to users – whatever the platform!
Want to talk to our Paid Social experts about how to manage busy, peak advertising times? Get in touch!