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Christmas in July: Plan Now for Better Holiday Ads

Bridget Johnston July 5, 2018

Retailers, you have about five months until the rest of the world starts thinking about Christmas, but you need to get started now.

Summer is the time to begin creating awareness campaigns to get potential customers interested in your products or services for future holiday purchases, but you also need to be thinking of how to engage with them when the holiday season is closer. In a world where paid social advertising is getting more and more competitive, marketers need their ads’ creative elements to really connect with consumers.

We decided to dig into data from our co-op to analyze what people are most interested in during the holiday season, and the results were surprising. Holiday-specific imagery, focusing on Santa, trees, or presents, isn’t what people are clicking on in November and December. Our data co-op shows that people most engaged with social ads that feature food and alcohol.

Image Tags Prove People are Hungry and Thirsty

Part of the data we analyze focuses on image content in social ads. We use AI to auto-tag every image attribute in a paid social ad, so we can see which images are providing the most success. Of course, we were very interested in seeing what imagery connects with people during the holiday season, so we researched these image tags for the last six weeks of each year for 2015-2017.

When looking through image tags specifically, we saw some commonalities in affective creative. In terms of what has the best return on ad spend (ROAS), food and drink focused images are king.

The image tags “red wine,” “mint,” “mojito,” “lemonade” and “rice” rank among the tags with the highest ROAS, which ranges between 102:1 and 212:1.

“Platter,” “buffet” and “cafeteria” fall closely behind the previously-mentioned food and drink tags in terms of ROAS as well, ranging between 64:1 and 69:1.

So Where’s Santa?

When going through the data of most effective image tags, “Santa Claus” was nowhere to be found. Interestingly, holiday-themed imagery didn’t rank very highly, or even at all.

The holiday-themed image tag with the highest ROAS of 50:1 is “ornament.” Far behind that is “tree” with a ROAS of 33:1.

Looking further down the list of the top few hundred image tags, nothing else holiday-themed even ranks within our list.

This data shows that consumer interests can be pretty unexpected. The best way to find a unique edge in your holiday campaigns is to study hard data and use its insights in ways that might surprise you. Updating your ads’ images to include a photo of mulled wine or cookies could ultimately get your prospects to click.

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