How to Get More Bang for Your Media Buck This Holiday Season

We’re still seeing the impact from the pandemic in the retail sector – less trafficked stores, mall transformations, innovative shopping experiences, and big box stores continuing to dedicate a large portion of resources to store pick-up. 

Now that consumers are more conditioned than ever to shop around online – the competition is fierce. According to a recent McKinsey study, 75% of US consumers have changed their shopping behavior during the pandemic, with 40% percent saying they have changed brands. They found that the level of brand switching doubled in 2020 compared to 2019.  In response, ad spend increased by almost 15% YOY in 2020 despite pandemic fears. In 2021, they projected a 25.5% increase, which is the fastest growth rate since 2018.

What does this mean for marketers & advertisers? 

We have to rethink how we leverage our digital ads.They can and should do more than just spread awareness or drive site traffic. They can be a powerful insight tool as well.  By layering on interactive elements to your ads that capture real-time customer sentiment & preferences, retailers and brands can get so much more value out of their media investments.  

Here are a few strategies we’ve seen succeed. 

1. Find & Influence New Customers

Many retailers choose to use their limited budget and resources on finding and winning new customers during the holidays. A national discount store sought to do just that and used ViralGains’ Multiple Choice Survey in their video ads to drive incremental sales at their stores during the 2020 holiday season. They created lookalike audiences of the “No” survey responders, and sequentially messaged them with social media ads featuring different products and promotions. These ads drove an $8 Million increase in same store sales among new customers. 

Here’s an example of what that looked like in action:

2. Optimize Creative based on Voice of Customer 

Retailers and brands often make the most of their media investment by teaming up for co-op campaigns. Video ads are a compelling way for retailers to curate and showcase many participating brands. A luxury retailer partnered with us to create shoppable video ads featuring over thirty of their apparel brand partners. These highly engaging interactive videos provided insight on which brands customers were interested in. Furthermore, the retailer used a ViralGains’ Likert survey at the end of the video to gauge purchase consideration in real-time. 

When the pandemic hit, the video creative featuring “at home” brands began to outperform the others showing consumers’ increasing demand for comfortable, yet stylish loungewear. ViralGains optimized toward this creative, which ultimately drove an 8.3% lift in consideration, the highest of all creatives.

3. Make it Easy to Shop In the Moment

People are used to getting what they want when they want it. Especially when it comes to shopping (thanks Amazon!). And if you’re selling something – getting the shopper what they want as fast as possible is key! A good user experience helps build brand loyalty afterall. 

One global retailer wanted to make it easy for holiday shoppers, in the U.S. and Canada, to find the perfect gift for their loved ones. They used a ViralGains Image Survey – customized so it was beautifully integrated within their video creative – to ask viewers who they were shopping for – partner, kids, friend. They redirected people who clicked on each answer option to a different landing page with gift ideas for each type of receiptint – ultimately driving 24K viewers to shop in December. 

As a bonus – they learned that holiday shoppers were more likely to shop their store for kids and friend gifts than partner gifts. Lastly, the survey automatically created ViralGains 1st party audiences that they could sequentially message with relevant display ads.

4. Create Your Own Sales Event

Beat the holiday rush and create your own online sales event. One of our customers – a global technology company – did just that before the holiday rush this year. They created a branded online sales event specifically for gamers with the goal of driving brand preference and incremental sales for the manufacturers that use their technology. This event drove a 12% lift in purchase intent and over 15K visits to their sales event site in just 10 days! For even more detail around the strategy, check out the case study here. 

If you (virtually) walk away with one thing after reading this blog, it’s this: Rethinking your holiday ads to incorporate the voice of your customer can lead to greater campaign success, and arm you with valuable insight to inform wider business strategies. 

Interested in having one of our Brand Strategists put together some ideas for you? Reach out to us at to get started!

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