Creating Shoppable Moments for Consumers This Holiday Season

August 2018 | Sarah Martinez | Oath VP and Industry Lead, Retail & QSR


As summer ends and the kids head back-to-school, marketers are turning their attention to the all-important holiday shopping season. The opportunity for retailers this year is massive; the NRF recently adjusted its 2018 retail sales outlook with spending predicted to climb at least 4.5%, rather than the original forecast of 3.8% – 4.4%. This is great news for retailers, and marketers are smart to begin building their holiday strategies now. But the retail space is also going through a lot of disruption, and the landscape is changing to reflect big shifts in consumer behavior.

Last week at The Boston Ad Club’s The New Retail Reality event, I spoke with Macy’s Karthik Vish, VP of Search Marketing, about this exact topic. Among the topics discussed, mobile, innovative ad formats, and smart data emerged as three core themes for marketers to focus on this holiday season.

‘Tis the Season to be Mobile
Consumers are on their smartphones more than ever before. A recent Oath study found 69% of people spend at least one hour on their phones every day, and 40% spend at least two hours every day; this amount climbs among younger audiences, with many consumers spending over five hours a day on their phones. So it’s natural that the way people shop is evolving, too. Forty percent of retail ecommerce sales will be transacted on mobile devices this year, presenting a big opportunity for marketers to lead shoppers seamlessly through the purchase funnel.

We recently partnered with Macy’s on a mobile campaign focused on making shopping easier by allowing customers to store a coupon in their mobile phone, and receive time and location-based reminders on their device’s home screen. We also worked with Macy’s to pilot Mobile Moments, which allows users to interact with a full-screen creative format, without interrupting the user experience. These innovations brought what was traditionally a direct mail and paper-based coupon into a digital sphere, improving customer engagement and relevance, and driving more people into a nearby store.

3D Holidays
New advertising tools like AR, 3D and programmatic VR are helping brands deliver the best possible experience for consumers across devices. They provide an enhanced experience that deepens the brand connection, and provides a level of utility that mobile users have come to expect. And, nearly 75% of consumers already expect retailers to offer a mobile AR experience. How can brands take advantage of these new tools?

We’ve been testing these ad formats with some of the world’s leading brands, including The Home Depot and Pottery Barn, and are seeing incredible traction and positive performance. Last holiday season, The Home Depot was looking to get customers excited about its selection of holiday decor and drive shoppers to the website. Through AR ad units within the Yahoo Mail mobile app, consumers could view what a Christmas tree with its decorations from Home Depot would look like in their own home. The experience was a huge win: recipients spent an average of over two minutes interacting with the AR ad, and the campaign saw a 12.5% CTR from the ad to the landing page.

We also partnered with Pottery Barn to test an AR ad within Yahoo Mail that allowed people to virtually place different pieces of furniture throughout the room of their choice. Shoppers could see how a Pottery Barn lamp would appear in their living room, before even making their purchase. These innovative advertising tools provide an engaging and personalized experience, and give mobile shoppers the utility they’ve come to expect.

Don’t Discount Data
It’s key for marketers to invest in data to power these creative experiences, and ensure an impactful moment with the right audience. After all, personalization matters more than ever: 64% of consumers say they expect relevant advertising on mobile, so good creative will only get you so far. Rich data signals can help retailers understand shopper patterns and behaviors, analyze that information across channels and ultimately personalize the shopper’s experience. This level of personalization will help get marketers to the finish line and lead to meaningful brand interactions and purchase consideration. According to Deloitte, 44% of consumers say that they will likely become repeat buyers after a personalized shopping experience with a particular company.

The 2017 holiday shopping season was a monumental win, with sales showing the strongest gain since 2011. All eyes will be on 2018 and where consumer spending will net out. Immersive and innovative digital ad experiences across mobile, leveraging new technologies and data, should be a key part of retail marketers’ campaigns to win the shoppable moment.