Holiday Advertising Kicks into High Gear

John Krautzel
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Advertising techniques of the past were so much simpler than they are today. Every time the holiday season rolled around in the 1950s, for example, it was largely a matter of sending out the dancing cigarettes to raise customers' awareness of Chesterfields. Today's advertising techniques have grown immeasurably more subtle. Targeted advertising has moved to supplement—and possibly replace—old-fashioned product exposition. The holiday season is now the best time to witness current high-intensity advertising techniques and to perhaps glean some idea of future trends.

None of this is to say that the traditional forms of advertising are extinct—far from it. Print, radio, and television are still the hat trick of a successful advertising offensive, and the old ways still work very well. You only have to see the crowd eagerly crowding around the TV during the commercial breaks on Super Bowl Sunday to know that television advertising techniques are far from exhausted.

Commercial TV and radio ads pick up just before the holiday season, competing in even-numbered years with the political ads clamoring for the same airtime. What's changed over the years, however, is the intensity with which these spots are pushed. While it has become commonplace that the holiday season starts earlier every year, in 2013 stores actually did open their Black Friday sales events on Thanksgiving morning, and the ads reflected that desperate lunge for market position in their frequency and their intensity, to say nothing of the rates marketing firms were willing to pay for a 30-second spot.

While the old ways endure, new advertising techniques have risen to supplement them. Native advertising is one such, with major brands such as Apple and Coca-Cola becoming publishers in their own right. The surge in native advertising techniques during 2013 was so great that by the end of the year fully three-quarters of brand marketers reported that they had used some kind of sponsored image in their targeted advertising campaigns.

Of these sponsored campaigns, some of the most popular went out over Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms. This is where the real growth of native advertising is taking place, and this is—not coincidentally—also the arena that's most responsive to advertisers' big pushes for the holiday season. It's also probably not a coincidence that social media giant Twitter opted to make its initial public offering in September, immediately prior to the holiday advertising push that would make full use of sponsored tweets to drive sales to a respectable margin despite the sluggish economy.

While traditional methods of advertising have endured and even greatly expanded, native advertising and social media have crowded together with the older forms to create an advertisement-saturated landscape. This pressure is felt more keenly during the lead into each year's holiday season, as advertisers pull out all the stops to get the attention of a fickle public. The pace quickens year by year, with 2013 seeing some of the most intense marketing to date. The picture that 2013's advertising techniques paint for the future is that of an ever more crowded market for ad space, in which it simply isn't possible to be confined to a single medium, especially not during the holidays.

 

 

(Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net)

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