Love is in the air.
Usually, consumers are getting ready to cozy up with their loved ones on romantic dates and weekend getaways at this time of the year. But, like last year, the coronavirus is also in the air.
So, how should you go about planning your Valentine’s Day marketing campaigns? As long as Cupid is alive and kicking (and he is!), consumers will be snapping up traditional gifts and ones that are in-line with pandemic behaviors.
In this post, we unwrap all the lovey-dovey holiday trends from Taboola and Skimlinks you need to know so you can create marketing strategies that induce heart eyes with consumers while generating more revenue and hitting your targets with more accuracy than Cupid.
Last Year’s Trends: A Semi-sweet 2021
Love was crushed a little bit last year, with consumer spending dropping from 2020’s record of $27.4 billion to $21.8 billion. On the bright side, that’s still up from years past. As we head into a second pandemic Valentine’s Day, we can assume that 2022 will look pretty similar to 2021.
Let’s start out reviewing last year’s trends by diving into the content and products that won the holiday.
Top-Performing Content Types
As is usual with holidays, gift guides earned the most attention. Alongside all the sugary sweet and innocent gift guides for her and him, there was also some spice — sex toy gift guides also performed exceptionally well.
Etsy and Uncommon Goods, both of which sell mostly small brand, hand-crafted and customizable gifts, got lots of love from consumers. Harry & David (food-oriented gifts), Huckberry (lifestyle and clothing for men), and Nordstrom (luxury products) earned their place as just a few of Skimlinks’ top performing merchants.
In line with the top merchants, the products that set hearts aflutter included personalized gifts, edible treats like boxes of chocolates, and traditional date night items like flowers.
Top-Performing Taboola Blog Posts
When we analyzed the top news stories from Taboola publishers, several holiday-themed keywords and trends emerged as we got closer to Valentine’s Day.
In the arts and entertainment vertical, articles with “love” earned over 15 million page views. “Chocolate” made a strong showing in the food and drink vertical with 4 million page views, and page views for content with “valentine” skyrocketed by 218%.
What Will Capture Hearts This Year
The pandemic has changed consumer behavior, and since it began in 2019, e-Commerce has seen unprecedented growth, a trend that is poised to stick with us for the long term. Additionally, economic concerns seem to have eased as we learn to live with the pandemic, as demonstrated by 2021’s Christmas season.
The findings from Mastercard’s SendingPulse showed that e-Commerce sales in 2021 rose 11% from 2020 and a whopping 61.4% compared to 2019.
Spending also increased as consumers gained more confidence in the economy and felt it was more important than ever to shop for gifts.
Compared to last year, consumers spent more on apparel (+47.3%), at department stores (+21.2%), and on jewelry (+32%), all trends we expect to carry over to Valentine’s Day.
At Taboola, we’ve identified some notable shifts in consumer shopping habits. If you take advantage of these insights, you can increase sales exponentially by promoting brands and products that align with consumers’ current values.
Ethical and Sustainable Brands: Consumers Use Buying Power for Good
Searches about the environmental impact of online shopping rose 2250% from 2019 to 2020. Sixty-five percent of consumers now say they want to buy from purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, and 56% won’t buy from brands they see as unethical.
Put it into practice: Create articles that feature sustainable brands and retailers with fair trade practices. These kinds of brands routinely generate greater order values with customers.
Although shoes aren’t a typical Valentine’s Day gift, Allbirds still taps into the holiday with a themed marketing message.
Retailers with Fast Delivery: Consumers Want It Now
The pandemic disrupted much of life, and in recent months, that has amounted to supply chain issues and longer shipping times as delivery companies became inundated with packages. Frustrated by delayed deliveries, 30% of online consumers now prefer to shop with retailers that offer BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store) options. Retailers have responded, and many top brands provide that option, with some even offering same-day delivery.
Put it into practice: Score a serious revenue bump by promoting brands that meet these needs, offer high base commissions, and have items perfect for Valentine’s Day gift guides. Look to Anthropologie (15%), Bloomingdales (10%), Athleta (5%), PetSmart (6%) and Sephora (5%).
Anthropologies Valentine’s Day Shop includes fashion, home, lifestyle and beauty products.
Retailers Offering Personalized Services: Understand What Individuals Want
Although we’ve seen a dramatic shift in how protective people have become over their personal information, 70% of consumers will shop exclusively with brands that personally understand them. Skimlinks found that personalized content and promotions generate a 20% uplift in conversions.
Put it into practice: Make sure you include merchants that offer bespoke, personalized services and great commissions, including Care/of (23%), Function of Beauty (15%), Prose (20%) and Stitch Fix (10%).
News Trends: Click Worthy Keywords for Valentine’s Day 2022
Knowing what readers are searching for and building content and ad campaigns around those topics will help you attract and engage consumers.
As of December 20, 2021, the data from our US publisher network shows readers are interested in the following trends.
Valentine: 784,900 page views in the last 90 days
Love: 29,965,880 page views in the last 90 days
Gift Guide: 62,620 page views in the last 90 days
Diamond: 6,872,050 page views in the last 90 days
Flower: 815,120 page views in the last 90 days
Chocolate: 5,215,720 page views in the last 90 days
Inspiration from Publishers Already Pushing Out Valentine’s Day Content
Sometimes the best way to learn is by emulating those who excel. Here are a few examples from publishers using keyword trends to create powerful, revenue-generating articles.
POPSUGAR knows that gift guides for women will always be popular with consumers who need ideas.
With people planning to celebrate at home, making a special meal together is a great activity. This article from Tasty features dishes people can whip up for a home dining experience.
Rather than just producing one gift guide, Shape breaks them down to speak to different audiences. These examples cover gifts for her, him, and those that are single.
Targeting Best Practices: Optimized Strategies for Finding Consumer Love
Now that you know how to take advantage of news trends ,let’s look at some targeting strategies that can make or break your campaigns.
Automate with SmartBid: Taboola’s SmartBid is a campaign bidding strategy that uses historical data and deep learning to automatically adjust bids, prioritizing for higher conversion rates.
High Impact Placements: High Impact Placements ensure your ads are shown on premium sites, surrounded by brand-safe content and in the highest value areas, including homepages, section fronts, mid-article and Taboola Feed.
Motion Ads: Because Motion Ads use short looped videos or gifs, they attract more attention, generating higher conversion rates and lower CPAs. The ad format is ideal for consideration and conversion goals. Like with all campaigns, A/B test videos and gifs to identify which perform best.
Based on our US data from December 12, 2021, we’ve broken down the content types, platforms, and days of the week that will generate higher CTRs and lower spends for the four verticals that will be popular this Valentine’s Day: dating, fashion, lifestyle and food.
Content Type: Choose Photos over Video and Text.
Platform for Leads: Opt for Mobile over Tablet and Desktop.
Platform for Purchases: Target Mobile over Desktop and Desktop.
Content Type: Launch Video campaigns over Photos and Text.
Platform for Brand Awareness: Pick Mobile and Tablet and Desktop.
Platform for Purchases: Launch Mobile and Tablet campaigns over Desktop.
Content Type: Select Video ads over Photos and Text.
Platform for Brand Awareness: Focus on Tablet over Mobile and Desktop.
Platform for Purchases: Go for Mobile and Tablet over Desktop.
Content Type: Use Video and Photo campaigns over Text.
Platform for Brand Awareness: Choose Mobile over Tablet and Desktop.
Platform for Purchases: Concentrate on Mobile and Tablet over Desktop.
Valentine’s Day Creative Best Practices
Taboola Trends is a valuable tool that you can use to optimize your campaign elements. It analyzes data from billions of impressions and campaigns to provide recommendations that will help you increase your CTR.
Here’s a look at the creative trends we see in the US for the Dating, Fashion, Lifestyle, and Food verticals as of January 1, 2022.
Creative Trends for Dating
Images (further filtered for mobile campaigns): Outdoor images can increase CTRs by 80%, while ones taken from a distance or featuring a woman boost CTRs by 58% and 57%, respectively.
Headlines: “Gift Ideas for Every Relationship Status” will generate a higher CTR compared to “14 Last-Minute Valentine’s Day Gifts for New Loves” and “Make All Your Valentines Feel the Love with These Gifts.”
Creative Trends for Fashion
Images (further filtered for mobile campaigns): Pictures with food will increase CTRs by 81%. Women in the image can boost CTRs by 56% and photos by 35%.
Headlines: Between three titles, “Valentine’s Day Fashion: Gifts She’ll Flip For” will outperform “Gifts Fashion-Forward Men Will Love” and “37 Valentine’s Day Gifts for Fashionistas.”
Creative Trends for Lifestyle
Images: Increase CTRs by using images without text (+59%), with food (+34%) and in color (+33%).
Headlines: See a higher CTR with the title “45 Last-minute But Thoughtful Gifts for Her” compared to “20 Gifts Ideas for Every Budget” or “Show Them Some Love with These Valentine’s Day Gifts.”
Creative Trends for Food
Images (further filtered for mobile campaigns): Indoor photos will increase CTRs by 87%, including men offers a 43% CTR boost and close-ups images by 40%.
Headlines: “15 Deliciously Decadent Food and Drink Gifts” will perform better than “75 Valentine’s Day Gift Guide for Food Lovers” or “Valentine’s Day Gifts for the Foodie in Your Life.”
Video trends in the US show that you can increase video completion rates by showing people eating (+112%), doing water sports (+100%) and singing (+10%).
Other aspects that boost completion rates include videos with winter scenes (+100%), in color (+17%), without text (+12%), and without a person (+9%).
Creating Campaigns That Perform
Here are a few example campaigns that follow these creative best practices.
Case Studies: Brands That Customers Love
Thousands of brands have met and surpassed their marketing goals by using Taboola. Here are two examples from the dating and fashion verticals to give you an idea of what you could achieve.
When Parship, one of Europe’s biggest online dating services, was looking to grow its user base, it partnered with Taboola to access the premium publisher network and high-quality audiences. Parship’s campaigns, which sent users to informative landing pages, attracted thousands of new users, increasing its conversion rate by 113% and CTR by 80%.
The Line, an online boutique, relied primarily on word-of-mouth and email marketing campaigns but was ready to reach new audiences and boost awareness. The fashion brand used Taboola’s content discovery platform to share its unique content, earning over 72 million impressions. The brand saw an almost 100% increase in traffic and a 12% spike in email subscriptions.
Let Love Win Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day may be for lovers (or friends, family, and four-legged furballs), but it can also start a lovefest between consumers and advertisers or publishers.
Follow all the tips and strategies we’ve covered to create and execute your Valentine’s Day marketing content and campaigns. Doing that will help you turn first-date relationships with consumers into long-lasting ones, generating revenue for Valentine’s Day and well beyond.