How brands should tailor their marketing approach this Christmas

To truly engage consumers, it doesn't just come down to price points - it's vital that each individual consumer is served the ad iteration that will be the most relevant and meaningful to them, especially in the current climate.

Mateusz Jędrocha, Head of Upper Funnel Solutions at RTB House, looks at at why it's imperative that brands tailor their marketing approach this golden quarter.

We’ve reached that time of year again. The run up to Christmas is the most important period for the retail industry, with Black Friday normally marking the first signs of how the season will look for advertisers. 

Indeed, Black Friday 2021 saw a record performance, with sales up around 20% on 2020. While that may have been driven in a large part by a post-lockdown euphoria, this year’s festive spirit is likely to be dampened by the cost-of-living crisis, with many UK households having less disposable income than previous years.

Looking to Christmas 

Despite the squeeze, early research indicates that 65% of consumers are expecting to spend the same or more than they did in 2021, and 32% are planning to start their Christmas shopping earlier this year. 

So, while the fourth quarter of the year is a huge opportunity for brands given the current cost of living crisis, it’s more important than ever that brands really connect and resonate with their customers. On one level, this means they need to ensure that messaging is tailored to support  consumers in the current climate in order to evoke positive responses to campaigns. However, it is also vital that brands capture consumer attention early and then ensure they remain top of mind by sharing relevant, engaging creative in the right places at the right times.

The challenge is that today’s consumers are inundated with advertising messages both, online and offline. And with the use of ad-blocking now more prevalent than ever, it’s clear that consumers are looking for ways to fend off some of this messaging – much of which is not relevant to them. 

Embracing technology 

With the digital advertising industry in a state of flux as we move away from cookies, we face the very real risk of making what is already imprecise targeting even worse. To prevent this, marketers need to be turning their attention to AI and machine learning.  

The latest iteration of which is Deep Learning, which  uses advanced AI algorithms to help advertisers optimise their campaigns and make the most out of every single ad impression. Without getting too technical, Deep Learning uses neural networks to mimic the human brain, so that it can learn and evolve strategies for itself based on the continuous flow of new information.

What this means for marketers in practice is that Deep Learning can enable them to process huge volumes of consumer behaviour and campaign data, and provide high-level insights that were previously unachievable. Broadly speaking, this allows brands to make much more targeted decisions around ad placement, and frees marketers up to focus on things like creative.

The benefits 

More directly, Deep Learning provides three core benefits: improved personalisation and efficiency, exposure of hidden insights, and custom optimisation. 

A constant challenge for digital marketers is adapting advertising messages so that they feel personal and attractive to the individual customer. Because Deep Learning learns from experience, you can identify potential purchases more quickly and more accurately. This can also enable you to continuously rebuild consumer behaviour profiles and adjust what is presented on a banner every time an ad is displayed. Using Deep Learning in this way can help ensure campaigns are more efficient than ever. This is crucial nowadays, as marketers’ budgets are strained, while the call for measurable business benefits is becoming louder all the time.

Beyond that, the level of AI technology used in Deep Learning allows marketers to uncover previously ‘hidden’ consumer data. This means that brands can do things like analyse the visit time on products and the sequence of visited subpages in an online store, and as a result start to predict a consumer’s actual purchase intentions. 

This same level of insights also makes it possible to determine which products users are most interested in, then send them customised offers relevant to their current needs. This provides marketers with the ability to see patterns in groups of users where they were previously unavailable.  

This Christmas, with the right approach and the right tech, brands can reach relevant audiences and maximise on the lucrative fourth quarter. 

By Mateusz Jędrocha

Head of Upper Funnel Solutions

RTB House