How to create an effective Halloween advert, as determined by AI

A little AI magic can determine what an effective Halloween ad campaign looks like.

Rion Swartz, VP Branding at Shutterstock, outlines how data driven insights are key to compliment reactive campaigns.

Are witches more popular than clowns? Do superheroes perform better than pirates? Every year for Halloween, marketers are faced with the challenge of creating an impactful, on-trend advertisement that resonates with their consumers. This holiday is an opportunity for brands to show their playful side, be timely and relevant, and stand out from the crowd. But should campaigns be sinister or sweet? Creepy or cute? Current events inspire costume trends, and these can rise as quickly as they can fall. Take the popularity of Squid Game for example – no doubt trick or treaters around the globe this weekend will be wearing the guard masks.

But how do you really know what is making your consumers tick? Data driven insights are key to compliment reactive campaigns and make them a success. Data is invaluable to marketers when making important content decisions for advertisement materials. This year, we have used artificial intelligence to analyse more than eleven years of digital marketing data to determine which costumes, accessories, and settings are the most engaging for audiences this spooky season, and how you can bring it to life in your holiday campaigns.

Classics Are Clickable

Trends come and go, but the classics are always in style. According to AI, tried-and-true costumes are trending up in clickability across the board. Specifically, imagery and videos of wolves have seen big boosts in engagement, with click-through rates (CTRs) up 235% over the past two years.

Witches are also on trend. Their clickability has increased 16% since autumn 2020. Although, interestingly enough,, the CTR of brooms dropped 97% within that same time. So, if you plan to include a witch in your Halloween campaigns, AI suggests adding in a cat instead. Cats are becoming more engaging with time, and their CTR has risen 37% since 2019.

Pirates have had a swashbuckling CTR surge in recent years, too, rising 29% since 2019. And, unfortunately, depending on who you ask, clowns are once again receiving a lot of attention, with a CTR up 171% over the last two years.

Don’t be afraid this Halloween to go back to a childhood classic when choosing your campaign character lead.

Opt for Athletics and Action-Packed Looks

This year, AI found that athletes are the most clickable costumes of all. This rise in popularity could be due to the excitement of the Tokyo Olympics. Whatever the cause may be, audiences can’t get enough.

Another type of action-oriented costume is that of the superhero. But, while the CTR of superhero imagery and videos increased dramatically from 2019 to 2020, AI has seen no change in engagement since.

Selecting these costumes for your ad is still a wise choice, as superheroes remain highly-clickable for all audiences. This is a great option for brands who are looking to avoid the ‘spook factor’ this holiday.

Outdoors Is Best

We know the costumes and the characters, but what setting should your models be in to boost CTR when creating your Halloween content?

In general, outdoor settings outperform indoor ones. In fact, videos that are set outdoors have a 15% higher CTR than ones set indoors. This means that your brand could embrace a variety of outdoor content—trick-or-treating, bonfires, etc.—and see engagement.

If you’re looking for settings that fit into the spooky season’s theme, here are some data-driven details to delight your audience.

Imagery and videos featuring fog saw their CTR increase 262% since 2019. And, content including the moon saw a 32% CTR boost since just last year.

Creating a Halloween campaign can be a real treat for your customers. If you stay on brand and make data informed creative decisions, you’ll find that the holiday has a lot more to give than sweet treats.  

By Rion Swartz

VP Branding Marketing