When Valentine’s Day rolls around, advertisers don’t have to hope Cupid hits their customers with his arrow. They can use data to launch personalized campaigns that tug at their audience’s heartstrings.
They just need the right data to guide them.
That’s why we pulled insights from Taboola’s advertiser and publisher networks and purchase trends from Skimlinks this past Valentine’s Day to see which types of ads and stories resonated most with customers — especially those in the lifestyle, home, fashion, and beauty verticals.
With these findings and best practices, you can build more engaging content for your next Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, or Father’s Day campaigns.
Here’s what we found.
When to Run Campaigns
To start, we pulled readership data from our US publisher network on February 28. And we saw that traffic for the term “valentine” picked up on February 7 — about one week before Valentine’s Day. Interestingly, traffic didn’t start to teeter off until February 23, indicating that people were consuming valentine-related content almost two weeks after the holiday.
Traffic for the term “Valentine’s Day,” on the other hand, started to pick up steam as soon as January 22. And the variation “Valentine Day” had similar results, driving almost 10 million pageviews over 90 days.
Top Stories + Readership Trends
Then, we pinpointed some of the top stories from the Skimlinks network based on clicks from February 7-21.
In no particular order, we broke these popular terms down into URL snippets, including:
Among the top Valentine’s Day articles, we saw these themes and products take the spotlight:
- Delivery. Publishers wanted readers to know that they could get gifts delivered right to their homes. That’s why Taste of Home shared “25 Valentine’s Day Gifts You Can Have Delivered.”
- Thoughtfulness. Publishers like Glamour put the spotlight on the most thoughtful gifts with articles like “65 Best Valentine’s Gifts for Her That Are Genuinely Thoughtful.”
- Gendered recommendations. As noted below, most top publishers split their Valentine’s Day guides into gifts for him or her, making it easy for readers to find the right products for their loved ones.
- Kids. Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate anyone and everyone you love, including your kiddos. That’s why we saw articles like this one from Good Housekeeping: 30 Valentine’s Day Movies for Kids Who Deserve to Feel All the Love.”
- Extra-long listicles. The more gift ideas, the better! The top articles included lists of 40-75 gifts for the big day.
Aside from the usual flowers and chocolates, Skimlinks also found that top Valentine’s Day gifts included bags and purses, sheet sets, and fun food items like cake and hot sauce.
Articles highlighting gifts for her drove a lot of clicks at the start of the season — around February 7 — and those clicks steadily decreased as Valentine’s Day approached. Looks like shoppers got gifts for the ladies in their lives ahead of time!
We also saw these themes emerge among the top articles in this category:
- Convenience. Everyone knows the pain of ordering a great gift that comes too late. To help, Men’s Health shared “39 Sexy Gifts for Her That Will Arrive by Valentine’s Day.”
- Friendship. Love can be platonic, too! That’s why Parade published this piece: “Celebrate Another Year with Your Best Friend with These 25 Best Anniversary Gifts for Her.”
- Sleepwear. This year’s gift guides were full of comfy sleepwear and loungewear like silk pajamas, cozy robes, slippers, eye masks, and even pillows.
- Reactions. It’s all about that moment when she actually opens the gift and sees what you got. To that end, publishers used phrases like “make her smile” and “wow her.”
Articles about gifts for him, on the other hand, saw fluctuating traffic throughout the Valentine’s Day season. Meaning, there wasn’t a clear point in time when people were searching for these gifts in particular.
Still, we did see these trends pop up among the top “gifts for him” articles:
- Food and drinks. They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, right? These publishers certainly think so since their gift guides include everything from olive oil collections and wine flights to hot sauce kits and waffle makers.
- Tech gadgets. Even if the man in your life already has the essentials like a smartphone and computer, these publishers think there’s always room to gift him fun gadgets like a portable waterproof Bluetooth speaker, automated wine opener, or WiFi-powered smart lamp.
- …not Valentine’s Day. Across the top 10 “gifts for him” posts from this time period, only one was specifically about Valentine’s Day. The others were older lists for Christmas, graduation, anniversary, and birthday gifts.
Creative Best Practices
Now, honing in on ad content specifically, we unearthed creative best practices from the week of February 12 for U.S. fashion and home retailers.
Here’s what got customers’ heart rates up this past Valentine’s Day season.
Best practices for fashion advertisers
Ad images with colors, food, animals, and close-up photos drove more clicks than those without these elements. In fact, just using color instead of black-and-white visuals helped increase CTR by a whopping 577%.
To pair their images with the right copy, brands can also use the Taboola TitleAnalyzer, which tests headlines for the highest predicted CTR. For example, here’s how these fashion-related Valentine’s Day titles fre against each other:
Putting all these best practices together, a Valentine’s Day campaign with native fashion ads might look like this:
Best practices for home advertisers
Meanwhile, home advertisers that used ad images with women, text, outdoor scenes, and illustrations were treated to increased engagement this past Valentine’s Day.
And over in the Title Analyzer, we can see that home-related headlines with numbers and words like “cozy” and “romantic” can help drive a high CTR:
With these insights in mind, here’s a look at how home advertisers might put together a native campaign for Valentine’s Day:
Targeting Best Practices
Once you’ve created clickworthy content, you can use these targeting tactics to reach the right audiences and optimize performance:
- Increase conversions with Smart Bid. Powered by AI, Taboola’s SmartBid automatically optimizes your spend to reach the right users at the right time. Whether you want to drive conversions or hit a target CPA, SmartBid can help.
- Drive awareness with High Impact placements. Your customers are already active across premium publisher sites on the open web. And you can get in front of them with High Impact placements. Taboola uses data from 1 trillion recommendations and 22 billion monthly pageviews to find the perfect placements for your ads, so you can drive awareness at scale.
- Generate higher CVRs and lower CPAs with Motion Ads. Looking for that sweet spot between static images and video ads? That’s where Motion Ads come in. Motion Ads are short, eye-catching videos or GIFs that are proven to raise clicks and conversions while lowering CPAs. Even if you don’t have GIFs to work with yet, you can use Taboola’s Motion Ads Studio to easily create moving content from your static images.
Build Crush-worthy Campaigns Your Customers Will Love
Whether you’re preparing for next year’s Valentine’s Day campaign or this year’s summer holidays, you can use these insights to win over your customers one ad at a time.
The “gifts for her” and “gifts for him” best practices can provide guidelines for your Mother’s Day and Father’s Day campaigns, for example. And, as always, you can visit Taboola Trends to access real-time data about which content drives the most clicks.
So, next Valentine’s Day, you can give Cupid a break. Because you’ll have everything you need to share messaging your customers will actually love.