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Preparing for a Very Different Holiday Season

With the holiday season and the New Year fast approaching, it’s time to look at how brands are spending their December marketing budgets. December is always a digital advertising bonanza, but last year was even more excessive than usual. Holiday gatherings and family assemblies were strictly limited by COVID-necessitated public health guidelines across much of Canada, meaning many consumers spent the usually busy holiday period in the same manner that they had spent the previous 10 months: at home and on their devices.

Holiday season 2021 is shaping up to be a much different experience. Public health restrictions have been drastically loosened thanks to Canada’s largely successful vaccine rollout, which means less time scrolling through Facebook and more time in real-life malls, public transit, movie theatres, and gyms. That alone may be reason enough for some brands to scale back their digital advertising budget. Another reason could be the lingering supply chain issues that have made companies wary of over-promoting scarce products. Recent-ish privacy enhancements in Apple’s latest rounds of iOS updates have also made it easier for users to restrict apps’ access to their data, which means less information to help platforms like Facebook and Instagram target audiences with personalized ads. And digital advertising in general has become more competitive over recent months with companies in every field vying for the dollars consumers saved during the pandemic.

In other words, digital marketing is facing significant headwinds entering the holiday season for the first time in many years. That doesn’t mean, though, that it’s time to start buying up billboard space. Instead, consider focusing your budget on the high-value customers that you know deliver return on investment; prioritize SEO, which, though also competitive, isn’t reliant on seasonal budget increases; and leverage your – or your agency’s – creative powers to generate standout visuals and copy that can’t be missed.


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