Now that we’re in the thick of holiday season planning, there’s still time to take your holiday advertising campaigns to the next level.
In fact, holiday e-Commerce sales are expected to increase by 16% in 2022, so it’s crucial that brands pull out all the stops to make sure their messaging cuts through the noise and drives conversions.
Ahead of the 2022 holidays, we analyzed over 2,000 ads from the last four years of seasonal campaigns — spanning across countries and verticals.
This initiative was led by the Taboola Creative Shop, a global team of strategists, data experts, designers, editors, and copywriters who provide actionable strategic creative recommendations to top advertising partners.
Holiday Creative Strategies for Each Stage of the Funnel
First, let’s unpack which types of campaigns you should launch leading up to and during the holiday season — so you can reach customers throughout the buyer journey.
Based on top-performing campaigns, here’s our holiday timeline of creative strategies.
Discovery: October 1st to 31st
Over 40% of last year’s consumers started their holiday shopping in October, according to Statista. Walmart even released its top holiday toy list at the end of August in 2021. That means — short of launching Christmas campaigns after Valentine’s Day — it’s almost never too early to begin holiday advertising.
Still, your October strategy shouldn’t look like your December strategy. Instead, you can use this time to reach consumers at the beginning of the funnel, in the consideration stage. This means educating shoppers who are starting to research holiday purchases, and finding ways to spread the word about what your brand has to offer.
Specifically, use these creative strategies to guide your October holiday marketing:
- Leverage customer testimonials. Build positive feedback into blog and landing pages with headlines like, “I Tried This Product And Love It (Here’s Why)” or “Why Customers Rate This Product 5 Stars.”
- Repurpose media reviews. Similarly, use press and media coverage to create content like “What Editors Are Saying About This Product,” or “X Publisher Calls This Product The Best Gift.”
- Tap influencers to spread the word. Partner up with noteworthy celebrities or online personalities who can advocate for your products. You can then build your own content around their posts with titles like, “Celebrity Expert Call This The Must-Have Product of 2022″ or “What’s On This Celebrity’s Holiday Gift List?”
- Invite customers to learn more. In the discovery stage, use CTAs like “Learn More,” “Read More,” and “Sign Up” to keep shoppers informed and moving along the funnel.
Consideration: November 1 – 25
Once Halloween is over the skeletons are back in the closet, get in front of new and loyal customers with relevant gift ideas. And deploy these creative strategies up until Thanksgiving:
- Highlight family and community. Communicate how your brand and products support families and togetherness with titles like “Family-Favorite Products That Bring Us Together.”
- Create personalized gift guides of your products. Now’s the time for content like “Top 10 Gifts For Mom” or “The Best Gifts For People Who Have Everything.”
- Mix up your CTA buttons. In the consideration stage, you can still invite customers to “Learn More,” but also start incorporating more promotional asks like “Get Offer” and “Shop Now.”
Purchase: Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday
Here’s where the shopping really starts to ramp up. Once Thanksgiving hits, consumers flock to e-Commerce sites and retail stores for deals. This period of Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday is also known as the “Cyber Five,” and it accounts for almost one-fifth of total seasonal sales.
According to the National Retail Federation, 180 million shoppers made purchases during this time in 2021, spending an average $301 per person.
So, how can you reach Cyber Five buyers in 2022? Let’s take a look:
- Scale up on discounts and promos. Amplify discounts in advance with titles like, “Product Deals To Watch Out For (Join The List),” and in the moment with messaging like, “Cyber Monday Product Sale Is On (20% Off!)”
- Create product-first visuals. Don’t be shy. Put those products front-and-center, and pair them with holiday graphics and visuals for the season.
- Make shoppers’ lives easier. Cut through the noise and alleviate the stress of holiday shopping with straightforward campaign copy. Also, use clear and direct CTAs like “Buy Now” or “Book Now.”
Urgent Purchase: December 1st to 25th
Now it’s crunch time! Those last-minute shoppers are looking to finalize their gift purchases, finish planning their parties, and cross everything off their lists. As Statista reported, 12% of holiday shoppers don’t even start their buying process until December.
You can help them find exactly what they’re looking for with these strategies:
- Make a last-minute sales push. For shoppers who are in a rush or taking time to compare options, remind them why your product is unique with titles like “This 5 Star-Rated Product Gives Back” or “Innovative Product Technology That’s First To Market.”
- Highlight convenience options. Address supply chain and shipping concerns head-on with messaging like, “Still In Stock: Best Gift For Dad (Pick Up Available),” or “Last Minute Gifts That’ll Arrive In Time (Pay Later).”
- Create images that highlight product benefits. Don’t just wait for customers to read your copy. Call out key features and benefits in images, and show your product in action.
Refresh: December 26th to January 15th
The season isn’t over once Christmas comes to an end. Even after the big holiday rush, advertisers have an opportunity to push clearance promos and retarget customers with more product recommendations.
In fact, we refer to this period from Christmas to early January as “Q5,” since it’s lumped together with the end of the holiday season and not quite part of the new year’s strategy yet.
So, before you dive into Q1, here are a few creative strategies for making the most of Q5:
- Recap your best-selling products. Some customers might’ve missed out on the hot-ticket items of the holidays. If you still any in stock, let shoppers know they can grab some for themselves.
- Promote clearance sales. Looking to clean out inventory for the new year? Drive those last-minute purchases with ads that include clear visuals of available products.
- Showcase what’s new. Promote your best products of the year, or what’s new for customers looking to refresh for the new year. More on this in a future blog post!
Holiday Creative Strategies for Top Verticals
We also saw creative trends emerge across key holiday shopping verticals like beauty, health & fitness, and technology & electronics. With these category-specific tips, you can help improve campaign performance and create more eye-catching ads.
Instead of just showing people driving, use visuals of cars being delivered, parked, and gifted. Also, consider including detail shots of the car’s key features. When it comes to crafting ad titles, highlight low pricing deals and best-of lists for seasonal car purchases.
Feature images of smiling people applying the product to the targeted area. Also, use titles that call out the audience directly and feature expert opinions.
Use close-ups of food and beverage products either being prepared or served. Meanwhile, titles can include recipes, health and nutrition facts, reviews, discounts, and delivery offers.
Business & finance
Showcase images of leadership figures, professionals, and financial products. Top headlines also included quotes, studies, rewards or bonuses, audience callouts by location, and guides for success.
Health & fitness
Use visuals that feature health and wellness solutions, people working out, and celebrity endorsements. Support them with headlines that call out audiences, reference current events, and communicate how your products can improve people’s lives.
Technology & electronics
Feature images of the product itself, or of consumers using it, in relevant settings (ex: home offices, gyms, recording studios). Top-performing titles also included device callouts and references to gifting.
Fashion & apparel
Create images of the people and products in context it’s used within, such as someone wearing a raincoat during a storm. Also, consider using visuals of a product held in someone’s hands. Pair these images with fashion ad copy that references designers, descriptive benefits, or seasonal promotions.
Home & lifestyle
In your images, feature people making repairs, projects that are a work-in-progress, and eye-catching settings. Also, use headlines that refer to specific rooms in the house, average costs, ways to save, and what’s new in home design.
The most engaging visuals in travel ads highlighted happy people experiencing culture, unique locales, and holiday decor. Meanwhile the best-performing titles referred to experiences, discovery, and traveling or gifting for the holidays.
Your How-To Guide to Holiday Creative
Here, we’ll dive into some more high-level, expert-led creative recommendations to help you easily outline your 2022 holiday creative strategy.
Repurpose content for engaging landing pages
When it comes to creating holiday messaging and landing pages, you don’t have to start from scratch. Use these tips to make the most of your resources:
- Adapt evergreen content. Take your top-performing content and make slight changes to repurpose them for the holiday season.
- Tell your own holiday story. Consider telling the story of a brand ambassador or mascot, or even retelling a holiday classic in relation to your brand’s product or service.
- Put together a quick listicle. Bite-sized content lists are holiday gift guide winners, especially when you list out all of your best products.
Use ad formats that drive conversions
Even if you’re already launching social and search campaigns, Taboola’s content recommendations can help you increase scale on the open web. As the largest content discovery platform, Taboola distributes ads across our network of premium publisher properties. And, as the IAB found, 84% of consumers say seeing ads within new sources increases or maintains brand trust.
In fact, Taboola’s range of ad products and formats are proven to uplift performance advertising. According to data from 2020-2022, over half of advertisers saw an 84% increase in conversion rates on average by launching campaigns on the Taboola network.
- Motion ads, which move for up to 15 seconds, can increase purchases by 20% and decrease CPA by 15%.
- Ad descriptions, which can be added onto image and video ads, can increase purchases by 10% and decrease CPA by 10%.
- CTA buttons can increase purchases by 14% and decrease CPAs by 14%.
Implement best practices for titles and visuals
Taboola also recommends using these creative best practices for better-performing images and copy:
Titles and descriptions
- Create a sense of urgency
- Tap into FOMO (fear of missing out)
- Call out prices and affordability
- Be bold with terms that action, authority, and trust
- Use Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) to automatically adapt titles to each user experience (ex: based on location, day of the week, or device)
- Crop visuals with a medium zoom
- Incorporate bright and bold colors
- Keep backgrounds neutral
- Use slow-paced, subtle movements
- Edit multiple images into a moving carousel
- Zoom in or pan on your best static images
A 6-Step Holiday Creative Checklist
You thought we were done? Not just yet!
Now that we’ve outlined the top creative strategies, themes, tools, and best practices for your holiday campaigns, we’ll leave you with a simple checklist to help you start implementing these tips:
- Look at past market insights. Did they align with your own previous holiday performance insights?
- Consider Taboola’s trends & learnings. How do these annual and monthly creative trends impact your creative planning?
- Plan predictions & disruptors. Follow Taboola’s tips for success to combat potential disruptions and plan for the future.
- Avoid predictable messaging. Take your ads to the next level to meet the needs of today’s consumers.
- Use Taboola’s recommended Creative Strategy themes. Create campaign assets based on recommended themes, rooted in insights & trends.
- Follow Taboola’s holiday creative timelines. Evolve your holiday creative accordingly based on the full-funnel timeline.
From here, we wish you a very merry and happy holiday season, filled with all the leads, purchases, and lower funnel conversions your infrastructure can handle. Not to mention countless happy customers, 5-star reviews, and success stories. With that, you’ll have a ton of data and insights from this holiday season to begin writing your playbook for the next one, where you can repeat, ideate, create, and elevate all over again.