Re-trafficking Creatives: Avoid The Nightmare Before the Holidays
By Austin Freeman
Black Friday, named because it is the beginning of the period when retailers are no longer operating at a financial loss or “in the red,” is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year. The period between Black Friday and Christmas, accounts for at least 20% of retailers’ full-year sales, making it an essential month for maintaining a profitable business. Cyber Monday, has quickly established itself as the second busiest shopping day of the year. Over $2 billion in online shopping alone occurs on the day, and recent sales show a steady increase of 14% to 17% in year-over-year sales growth.
However, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are not the only time-sensitive holidays that are important for retailers. Darren Waddell, RevJet’s EVP Sales & Marketing, says “Most retailers are tirelessly focused on executing calendar-based campaigns. Truly innovative retailers have two parallel tracks of advertising: evergreen and calendar-based.” Evergreen campaign creatives are not seasonal or holiday specific and could be relevant all year. Meanwhile, episodic or temporal creatives focus on a specific holiday or promotion and run for just a limited time.
Episodic campaigns cause trafficking nightmares for large advertisers and publishers. Traditionally someone has to manually turn on creatives at the right time and then turn them off when the promotion is over. Imagine being the person who has to miss their family’s Thanksgiving dinner because ad tags weren’t accepted by a publisher hours before Black Friday sales start.
However a foolproof method exists to ensure that these problems never happen. With a smart marketing creative platform, digital marketers can quickly and easily schedule campaigns running throughout the entire year. Once the creatives are built and approved, the system can automatically traffic those episodic creatives. Everything can be scheduled to go live at the precise moment required, without any further manual manipulation necessary.
“Smart marketers plan their campaign calendar for the whole year to ensure campaigns don’t fall through the cracks. Then when Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day hits, everything is locked and loaded, ready to switch on or off depending on the length of the campaign.” says Chief Product Officer, Craig Zeldin.
Marketers looking to continually increase their performance turn to creative optimization to determine which ad creatives are most impactful. And why not? Even within the limited time period of an episodic campaign, retailers can glean incredible insights into performance that can be used to inform the next campaign or the following year’s ads for the same holiday.
At a moment’s notice hundreds, or even thousands, of ad creatives adjust their impressions automatically, based on inventory and shopper trends. When a product sells out, automatically pause ads for that SKU. When shoppers show they are interested in a particular item, boost its performance so you sell more of your popular items.
“Creative scheduling happens without updating tags or working with publishers. Everything can be automated so there are no re-trafficking issues, no broken tags, no three-week wait times for publishers to switch to new content. Everything should happen in a single moment.” says Zeldin.
Let’s take the late summer’s Back to School campaign. Retailers will naturally want to drive traffic to many types of products. But why not autonomously adjust its weighting of specific creatives in real time according to gross margin. If backpacks offer a 20% margin and new shoes only drive a 5% gross margin, retailers should optimize their Back to School campaigns to drive more sales at a higher margin.
For example, if an item is close to being out of stock, creatives for it will be served less frequently. Alternatively, if a problem in the supply-chain creates an overstock problem, ads for that item will be shown more frequently. This is all done automatically once the retailer’s inventory feed has been integrated.
To save their sanity, forward thinking retailers are reevaluating their approach to marketing campaigns. The need to promote seasonal and holiday-specific creatives for Black Friday, Back to School, and many other holidays will never end. However this needs to be done in an organized and pre-scheduled way with ads automatically self-optimizing during these essential times of year. Similarly it is also essential to continuously optimize evergreen creatives to target niche audiences. The challenge retailers are overcoming is serving creatives along both of these tracks, holiday-specific and evergreen, simultaneously and efficiently.