How to create effective festive marketing material, as determined by AI

A Christmas to-do list for campaign marketers. The latest AI data reveals the top tips to create the ultimate cracker of a campaign.

Rion Swartz, VP Brand Marketing at Shutterstock, looks at how to drive effectiveness this festive season using AI. 

Every year during the holiday season, marketers are tasked with the need to create an impactful, on-trend, festive marketing campaign that engages and inspires consumers. Given the heightened expectations for extravagant campaigns, marketers are left in high-pressure positions. With the majority of the public excited to celebrate Christmas and spread some cheer, consumer spending this season is up from last year; in fact, spending is higher than before the pandemic. Barclaycard found that last month (November 2021) consumer spending in the UK was up 16 percent compared to the same time in 2019.

With that said, this year is an opportunity for brands to show their festive side, be timely and relevant, and importantly stand out from their competitors. How can brands make the best of this demand and ensure campaign metrics are being met? What seasonal materials actually resonate most with consumers?

Using Shutterstock.AI, we analysed eleven years’ worth of historic creative marketing data to understand what trends make Christmas brand campaigns shiny, sparkly and bright. Silver versus gold, Christmas tree emojis and the most clickable gifts – we’ve used artificial intelligence to reveal the top tips to help marketers include the most clickable content within festive campaigns. Marketers, your campaign content is now one less thing on the Christmas to-do list! 

1. All that glitters might not be gold

Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh may have been holy gifts, but if you want to boost the click-through rate (CTR) of your ads, silver is the winner. It had a considerably higher CTR than gold over the last three festive seasons. In fact, over the last three months of 2021, silver has achieved a 252 percent higher CTR than gold, indicating that there’s no sign of the silver trend waning during this festive season.

2. We’re dreaming of a red Christmas

It may have all started from Rudolph’s nose, but did you know various shades of red are consistently ranked among the top-performing colours over the past three months? And, year over year, this frequency has increased. During the 2020 Christmas season, 35 percent of the top-performing colours were shades of red.

3. Forget five gold rings, we recommend five faces

Over the last three months, the engagement rates of ads containing no faces remained high, and this continues to rise with each passing month. However, let’s face it, sometimes your ads need to include a cast of people. Even though AI says that content with zero faces will have the highest clickability, it has offered an alternative: include five people if you must include any at all. Ads with five faces will have the second-highest click-through rate this year. 

4. Ensure your emojis are looking pine

The Christmas tree emoji has the highest CTR of all holiday-themed emojis. Over the last three festive seasons, ads containing Christmas-themed creative have a 39 percent higher CTR average than ads that don’t. More specifically, ads containing Christmas trees see a 41 percent higher CTR on average than ads without them. Clearly consumers really will be rockin’ around the Christmas tree.

5. Keep gifting those Christmas socks

Did you know socks are highly engaging as gifts? Perhaps it’s because some people are back in the gym routine or more of us are exploring the great outdoors – whatever the case, gym shoes and socks are the most clickable presents according to our data. Trainers saw a CTR increase of 22 percent since the 2019 festive season. Additionally, socks in imagery and videos saw a CTR boost of 35 percent over the last three holiday seasons.

6. Plug the video games

Games have made their way on to present lists, into living rooms and onto phones, and they’ve become popular pastimes for people of all ages. While video games have the highest CTR of any gift in the toy category, other content that compliments gaming is on-trend too. For example, images and videos containing TVs saw a 37 percent CTR boost since last December. The second most clickable toys are dolls, but video games still win.

7. Not-so silent night

Speakers are the most widely-adopted smart device for homes. This popularity carries through to ad engagement as well. AI tells us that speakers have the highest CTR of all items measured for clickability in the home goods category. Not only that, speakers are consistently strong performers and have held their top spot over the last three years. 

8. Get the turkey out the oven and into your campaigns

Photos and videos showing families at dinner are driving home those clicks for Christmas. Despite the decrease in travel over the past year, consumers are showing us that they’re wanting to get back together around the dinner table, at least through their clicks.

Creating a Christmas campaign with data driven insights at the heart can be a gift for your customers and marketing targets. If you stay on brand and make data informed creative decisions, you’ll have a joy-filled, cracker of a campaign.

By Rion Swartz

VP Brand Marketing