Karan Singh, Senior Commercial Director at Xandr, considers how you can stand out in a very crowded marketplace…
Last year, Black Friday was driven more by online sales than ever before, with many nations still observing pandemic-related restrictions. In the UK, online spending reached record levels on Black Friday, despite an overall fall in spending, as a result of the restrictions.
In fact, knowing that there would be an increase in online purchasing, digital advertisers spent between two and three times more than they normally would on e-commerce channels, paid search, and social advertising in the lead-up to the long weekend of sales.
While this may sound like a good approach for brands to use, ultimately spending money on more advertising is unlikely to make a difference if the ads are unable to capture the attention of consumers. So here are the key things you’ll need to do to come out on top:
Get creative and be selective
Around Black Friday, there tends to be a lack of creativity and a real dearth of relevance. Too often, brands are focused on the discount they’re offering, rather than showing different sale products to different consumers, depending on what those consumers would be interested in seeing.
To cut through the noise, brands should be as dynamic as they can be by serving different creatives to different groups or different parts of the country. For instance, a brand’s target audience in Birmingham may be different to the one in London, so having different, tailored creative in each region will lead to better engagement and will more likely resonate with the consumers in each area.
Stand out from the crowd
Tied closely to creativity is the need for brands to differentiate themselves from competitors. If a brand is focused on a price message, with similar products, in the same media outlets, using the same data sources; it understandably becomes challenging to gain share of voice.
Companies should therefore be selective with the media they are using by focusing on media outlets that are the best fit for the brand long-term. Simultaneously, it’s important to use datasets that work for the business, and then try to find innovative ways to use that data. For example, spending money behind walled gardens, where competitors are also spending their money on the same datasets, means they will appear in the exact same places.
One way to rectify this would be to build relationships with publishers through curated marketplaces, which is particularly important as we approach a world without third-party cookies. These marketplaces enable buyers essentially to curate all publisher deals into a single deal ID that can be pushed into a DSP for trading. They offer full control over supply decisioning, and reduce costs by streamlining their supply sources, workflows, and operations. And, importantly, this enables brands to reach audiences using data they have already consented to being used on the publications they trust.
Curation and context
Brands can also benefit from using curated marketplaces to execute their diversified media plans, which are hugely important even outside of Black Friday. These marketplaces enable advertisers not only to group multiple niche media properties into one deal ID, but also to apply rules around both hard and societal metrics to reach the diverse audiences they desire.
On the other hand, brands should also be looking to work with contextual providers to explore a different type of engagement with the consumer. Contextual enables brands to reach engaged consumers in relevant environments or at relevant times without the need to worry about consent or GDPR. During Black Friday this could prove to be a powerful way of reaching consumers when they are reading through articles about products that are of interest to them.
Think long term, not just in the moment
Moving forward, savvy brands will be viewing Black Friday in the same way as the rest of their advertising activity. Just because it’s Black Friday, it doesn’t mean you move away from what you’ve been doing previously.
For instance, if you’re testing different tactics, campaigns and media partners, working with trusted data partners is key. As we move into the cookie-less world, brands should be looking to implement robust long-term strategies with new approaches, such as strong contextual solutions, and high-impact value formats.
Black Friday happens every year, so brands should be using each event to learn for the next one. Identify what this day means for your brand, what works and what doesn’t.
Finally, don’t feel like you have to follow the path most-taken on this – or any – Black Friday. It’s time to take ownership of your strategy, and benefit from the rewards long after Black Friday is over.
Senior Commercial Director