You can tell it’s the winter holiday season by the lights on your neighbor’s house, the aisles of sparkly stuff in every store, and the holiday commercials. With holiday sales estimated at $6.588 billion for 2016, according to the National Retail Foundation, brands are doubling down on television holiday ads.
Target increased its holiday broadcast spending by 21 percent this year, noted the Star Tribune, with a multispot campaign featuring John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, and the year’s hottest toys. Overall, the holiday ads budget for television is up 13.7 percent over last year, as reported by Adweek. As of Thanksgiving, the top four spenders on TV holiday ads were:
- Walmart ($66.4 million)
- Target ($49.7 million)
- Verizon ($25.3 million)
- JCPenney ($24.8 million)
This year also saw eBay return to television with a series of holiday ads highlighting unique gifts. “TV allows you to tell eBay’s story in a way that connects emotionally for people considering [the brand] as a destination for gifts,” eBay CMO Suzy Deering told AdAge.
Even over-the-top (OTT) content providers are using broadcast advertising to promote their shows, according to MediaPost. They reported that Sony PlayStation Vue spent $32.8 million on national TV from September 20th through November 29th, followed by Hulu, which spent $26.4 million; Amazon Prime Instant Video, which shelled out $15.5 million; and Netflix, which pumped $5.8 million into TV ads. Xfinity, purveyor of digital media, took to television for its “Hooking Up Grandma’s House” commercial, which celebrates the joys of Wi-Fi.
Continuing Mass Appeal
As Deering’s comment illustrates, television, with its wide screen and lush colors, is a well-suited medium for the highly emotional storytelling commercials characteristic of the holiday season. Those feel-good holiday ads can also have a halo effect on the brand that lasts up to three years, according to an ABC study shared by Adweek.
The study found that linear TV, along with related platforms, increases return on investment (ROI) on digital ads within the same campaign, including search, display, and short-form video. Viewers seem to internalize the positive emotions evoked by television ads and apply them to later ads on other channels.
While television viewing in general is fragmented, the holiday season is full of programming that encourages the whole family to gather around the digital hearth: It all starts with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which this year drew more than 50 million viewers. This phenomenon means a one-show stop for advertisers who want to reach entire families and multiple generations, from toddlers to seniors. The parade is then followed by a full schedule of must-see TV holiday specials (listed by Entertainment Weekly), from the three-part Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration to the Doctor Who Christmas Special.
Still Driving Sales
Moreover, the holiday season is all about shopping—and television advertising is best at driving sales and new accounts. That was the finding of a study by MarketShare on behalf of Turner Broadcasting and Horizon media last year. Adweek reported that when comparing the performance of television and digital at similar spending levels, TV averaged four times the sales lift. TV also was the only medium to maintain its effectiveness in an advertising study conducted by a luxury automaker. That study found that television advertisers could optimize their campaigns by using data from other sources, such as website visits and inbound calls.
With the rise of programmatic platforms for buying television ads, marketers will be able to take the use of data even further. Advertisers eager to get in on the holiday spirit will continue to rely on television.