Media buyers looking for last-minute holiday audiences need to look beyond traditional TV spots
Holiday shopping season is underway. And this year, marketers and media buyers are finding last-minute shopping (for video inventory) is more complicated than ever. Premium inventory is in short supply, and brands are puzzling over how to get in front of consumers’ eyeballs while it really counts.
Access to premium video is becoming more challenging — there are only so many channels that produce it regularly, and scouring the landscape for premium, brand-safe video beyond those channels is as arduous as panning for gold. But 2021 has been exceptional. CTV upfronts blew up this year, with spend increasing 49.5% from 2020. This is due to declining linear GRPs, which complicates the matter. It’s increasingly difficult to aggregate an audience with viewers seeking their favorite content across so many platforms.
“In-content ads at key emotional moments have been shown to increase brand recall and affinity. What’s more, holiday content is primed for this kind of alignment.”
EVP, Sales and Brand Partnerships
With consumer holiday spending bouncing back this year — it’s projected to be up 9% from 2020 — brands need to get their products in front of consumers when they watch premium holiday programming from channels such as Hallmark, Lifetime, GAC or UP Entertainment. And quality programs like this matter: because marketers can’t take chances with how their brands appear in content. It’s too risky to take a chance on highly engaging, yet clearly off-message videos — poor content/ad creative alignment increases brand recall but decreases brand affinity and purchase intent. The negative effects have been described as “a triple whammy:” damaging to the brand, memorable to the audience, at a time when the audience is most engaged.
But brands aren’t squeezed out of the holiday ad market just yet. In-content advertising, powered by AI and Hollywood-grade special effects, open up opportunities for brands to get in front of holiday shoppers not in the ad spots, but in the shows and movies themselves, where they’re most engaged.
It’s the same premise as product placement, but supercharged. Tech partners at the vanguard of in-content can ply massive troves of video from trusted premium channels, identify contexts that suit the brand in question, and place the brand or product within the scene. The scene could even depict a poster, billboard or TV screen with ad creative from an existing campaign — eliminating the need to develop new creative assets for this channel. With strong contextual targeting, the placement appears not only seamless, but relevant and sensible to the viewer.
One simple reason why holiday programming resonates with audiences is that it addresses deep emotions — like joy, nostalgia, and anticipation. And one clear benefit of in-content is that it uses contextual data to target sentiment. In-content ads at key emotional moments have been shown to increase brand recall and affinity. What’s more, holiday content is primed for this kind of alignment. From shopping, payment and gifting moments to cooking and mealtime celebrations, brands have myriad opportunities to shine within pivotal movie moments.
And in-content campaigns can be deployed quickly, within days or weeks, across multiple programs on the same network. The use cases are endless, across countless verticals, for placing a brand in the right emotional moment. For example, a financial services brand can show its credit card used in “purchase” scenes in several holiday movies. A food and beverage brand can be placed in a scene depicting a holiday meal, and a retail brand can be placed in a gift giving moment. With a clear understanding of the target audience and campaign objectives, brand marketers are limited only by their imaginations.
The quick execution of an in-content video placement can jump the holiday RFP queue and bring a brand and its messages to the audience during peak engagement. And strong contextual targeting technology pinpoints moments of not just emotional high points, but the right emotional high points to align with the brand and campaign. There’s no need to wait until 2022, you can supercharge your 2021 holiday campaign now.