If there’s one thing families know how to do over the holiday season, it’s share really wonderful meals together. For food marketers, it’s a huge opportunity to reach a wide audience looking to delight  loved ones.

Whether you’re marketing food, recipe books, a restaurant or kitchen products, the entire industry will be uniting around foodies from Thanksgiving to Christmas. If you’re going to stand out amongst the holiday buzz, you’ll need to meet those foodies online.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), over half of respondents, 55%, plan to do their holiday shopping at least partially online—but it’s an extremely competitive game this time of year.

If your brand is going to stand out, you’re going to need data-driven insights when it comes to targeting and budgets. Most importantly, you’re going to need knockout creatives to entice consumers to click.

This holiday season, we’ve taken a deep dive into the planning and executing on digital marketing campaigns for the food industry.

The Ultimate Holiday Marketing Playbook (Broken Down by 11 Industries)

Building the best food ads is a matter of movement and color.

From video ads to sponsored content, we see colorful images and videos of people performing best no matter the category.

For video campaigns, focus on specific actions, whereas for sponsored content and social media ads, colors and the lack of photo props are what’s important for performance.

Video campaigns: keep your subjects moving.

Physical activity drives the best performance from video branding campaigns. For food marketers, keep your subjects in your videos cooking for the most engagement.

We analyzed the top 2,000 video campaigns on the open web based on two key metrics—viewability and completion rate. We mapped actions in three categories to see where the highest opportunity for finance marketers is this holiday season: physical activity, vocal activity and general activity.

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Going beyond the creative, here’s how food video performance can scale:

  • Keep your videos between 15 seconds and 1 minute long
  • Include your logo on-screen for better brand recall
  • Include subtitles if needed to optimize for sound-off
  • Include and overlay for better CTR
  • …Or an end card to drive traffic from people who have finished your video
  • Finally, Test three video creatives for the best optimization

Sponsored content: colorful images without animals are top performers for the food industry.

The images that drive the highest click-through-rate (CTR) for food brands this holiday season are colorful and don’t include animals. Keep the images at a bit of distance to maximize CTR.

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We also analyzed the top keywords to use in your sponsored content headlines and creatives. Keywords like, “pasta,” “chicken,” and “easy” can increase CTR by up to 184%.

Download the Ultimate Holiday Marketing Playbook

Targeting: consumers want food content on Thursdays, and other holiday marketing tactics.

After you’ve built the most enticing creative possible, you’ll need to focus on meeting consumers at the best time while they’re shopping online.

We took a look at several targeting parameters to pinpoint exactly when and where food marketers can find their consumers and audience this holiday season.

Opportunity is defined at the intersection of supply and demand. We define supply as the amount marketers are spending to promote content and products, and demand as the CTR on that content.

Here’s what we found:

You’re most likely to reach food consumers on Thursdays.

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Thanksgiving to the New Year is the time of year with the most opportunity.

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Some final tips—try testing campaigns specifically for mobile devices, as well as promoting landing pages that host photo galleries. We see high opportunity for these device and landing page types.

Finally, we’ll leave you with a little inspiration.

These brands have found success with their creative advertising campaigns on the open web—check out how Plated and The Food Network have seen recent success.


This popular food subscription service increased signups by 12% with sponsored content campaigns.

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The Food Network

The popular food content network increased video views by 160% with native.

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As you test out different targeting and creative tactics for the holidays, keep creative fatigue and A/B testing in mind. Refresh creatives often for the best experience.

The holiday season is a time for sharing, giving, and fun, which is exactly what you should be aiming for with your holiday campaigns—give customers and fans the chance to be a part of the action.

Download the Ultimate Holiday Marketing Playbook

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