The end of the summer in the advertising industry generally means two things: The final round of vacations before the second half push and agencies are putting the finishing touches on 2022’s Q4 media plans to submit to their brand counterparts. And football, both American and European.
Okay, three things.
Q4 is also shorthand for the end of the year holiday shopping season when retail brands and marketers want to make sure they put their best foot forward to reap the benefit of heightened consumer purchase intent. This is why marketers often plan many more months ahead than other quarters. Given the headwinds for retail and commerce across the middle of the year, brands will be counting on a big Q4 to define if 2022 was a success or failure.
Retail media continues to ascend as a marketing channel, and so it will undoubtedly play a bigger role in Q4 media plans than ever before. Spending on retail media increased by 23% in Q4 2021 over 2020, and the continued addition of new retail media networks means we could very well see bigger growth when we review the results of the quarter in January.
Those additional options are just one more variable media planners are dealing with right now to figure out exactly how much to invest in retail media next quarter. Ad prices are another variable to consider, as retail media CPCs were up 13% year-over-year in 2021.
– Chris “Coz” Costello (Senior Director of Marketing Research @ Skai)
Do you have any burning questions you’d like to ask our expert panel? Would you like to contribute to this series? If so, please reach out to our content director, Josh Dreller, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
August 2022’s Retail Media Roundtable question
The end of the year holiday season is hands-down the most important retail time of the year. Right now, brands and agencies are in Q4 planning mode.
Question: What are some of the extra details retail media marketers need to consider when planning ahead for Q4 versus the rest of the year?
Danielle Benson (Performance Marketing Manager, Retail @ Harry’s)
Planning ahead for Q4 vs the rest of the year is quite different because you’re spending most of your efforts on holidays. Retail marketing will play a huge role in ensuring products perform well online. The three areas to focus on are launching on time, figuring out how the products look online, and planning ahead of the digital marketing efforts.
Launching products on time is essential and partnering with distribution and logistic teams makes meeting deadlines for delivery possible at the beginning of the holiday season. Every retailer’s holiday shopping starts at different times, some will start in early November while others closer to Thanksgiving. Regardless, you’ll want to leave plenty of lead time to ensure the launch is set up and ready to go to hit the shopper demands.
Next, focusing on the PDP strategy is figuring out how the products show up online. A great starting point is understanding each retailer’s specific website requirements. In this case, you’ll want the PDPs to spotlight all things holiday. Even if you only have evergreen products during this time, you’ll still want to emphasize holidays using relevant keywords and updating assets that fit the theme.
Last, is the marketing strategy. Work back from the last ship date for the products as that’ll determine the flight time for your campaigns. Start with where the customers will be looking for the products in each phase of the marketing funnel. Determine what keywords and categories shoppers will be going after to help build your campaigns around them. Don’t fix what’s not broken, especially if you’re crunching on time. Automatic campaigns may be your friend and can repeat success.
Miguel Reyes (Sr Advertising Manager @ media.monks)
With Q4 being highly competitive for marketing and advertising, navigating through the quarter can surface many challenges with high search volumes, increased cost to win, and competitive pricing. To best prepare, ensure that you have clear goals in mind that you can use to back into a strategy that will help you achieve your target. Consider testing new ideas, mixing tactics, and formulating a strategy based on past performance.
Map out your strategy to help better facilitate the idea. Ensure all teams are on the same page and establish goals to set expectations. Understand your budget needs and move forward with the content and tactics that work best. Plan ahead of the quarter and tap into historical performance to identify what’s worked and what hasn’t, and allow the business to improve YoY results.
Think about how your product can apply to the various events during Q4 (e.g. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and New Year’s Eve). Focus on the most important events for your business and develop a strategy to effectively engage with the shopper and close the sale.
Identify additional mediums to create demand and to help better connect with your customers. Leverage off-site media and synchronize your approach with on-site strategies, to amplify awareness and brand messaging. (e.g. “social media”, “Amazon Post”, “DSP”).
Q4 is a period with the potential to capture the largest volume of sales, while customers also search for the best-valued deals. Ensure that not only your media efforts align, but also your promotional planning. Additionally, with automation tools from Skai, you have the ability to set guardrails to drive efficient results. This gives advertisers more capacity to focus on higher-level marketing strategies, with room to fine-tune and reiterate the approach.
Matt Strietelmeier (Director, Marketplace Advertising @ Stella Rising)
For many advertisers, Q4 can make or break their entire year, which is why it’s critical to start planning early. My approach to Q4 planning can be broken down into 4 parts; Historic Performance Analysis, Strategy Development, Creative Updates, and Strategy Execution.
Analyze last year’s performance to identify what worked well and what didn’t work so great. Answer the following questions and use your analysis to inform this year’s Q4 strategy.
- What promos did you run? What was the response?
- Which products were top sellers?
- What strategies were in place last year?
- What was last year’s budget, was it enough?
- On what dates did you begin to see traffic increase, peak, and decline?
Craft a strategy that will take advantage of the increased traffic and purchase intent throughout Q4. Include upper-funnel tactics that build brand awareness and help to drive new-to-brand traffic, as well as lower-funnel & remarketing tactics that move that traffic down the path to conversion.
Offer competitive promotions that will maximize your conversion rate and drive sales. Finally, fund your campaigns with sufficient budget that accounts for the spike in demand and more competitive CPCs.
Regarding creative assets for Amazon Sponsored Brand, DSP, or other display tactics, update creative with festive images and videos that speak to the season. Ensure that ad text calls out your promotion where possible, but be cognizant of ad text guidelines that could get your ad disapproved.
Upload any new creatives and campaigns at least 2 weeks (or earlier if possible) before significant promotional dates to account for any disapprovals that may occur. This will give you time to adjust your assets if needed, to get them approved and ready to go.
Finally, have a strategy execution plan in place before Q4 begins. Boost your bids in the lead-up to Turkey 5 and monitor throughout, while being ready to adjust as needed. Pace your daily spending to align with the increased demand around Turkey 5 and other significant dates.
Have a plan in place for how the campaign manager should handle higher-than-expected demand. For example, if campaigns have reached their daily budget at 11 AM on Black Friday, but performance is awesome, can budget be pulled from upcoming months to support the demand, or are you ok with going dark?
Max Schneider (Vice President of Advertising @ beBOLD Digital)
Remember finals week in college? There was always that kid that went around asking everyone if they were ready for finals. There were two responses to that question. Some people, still scrambling through their books, would respond that they were getting there. Others, walking confident between classes, would respond, “Yeah, I’m ready. That’s what the whole semester has been for.”
What do we need to be successful during peak periods like Prime Day, Cyber Monday, and general Q4 shopping? We want to have well-optimized ads. This means that we want our ads to be stable and have historical relevance. We don’t want to launch a bunch of new ads during peak seasons because they will be crushed by competitors that are prepared. We want to have high organic rankings already. You aren’t going to build a brand overnight and certainly aren’t doing it during the busiest time of the year. This means you should already have content updated, have your ads supporting ranking strategies, doing everything you can do to push yourself higher on page one.
What do we do differently for peak seasons? We budget higher ad spend. We make sure there is extra inventory. We may plan some couponing. Otherwise, everything we do ALL YEAR should work toward a strategy supporting Q4 or other peak search volume periods.
Be the brand that’s getting ready for finals all year.
Jillian Cleland (Client Success Director, Commerce @ Skai)
There are a few factors to consider when going into Q4 planning, and having these nailed down can hopefully provide some peace of mind once the holiday season is in full swing. I’d break this down into forecasting and predicting prior to the holidays, being able to quickly pivot during, and feeling confident in reporting after the holidays.
From a platform perspective, Skai can help you achieve each of these things but having these 3 phases planned for will hold steady across any channel or brand you are prepping in the retail space.
When we talk about pre-holiday planning, understanding each brand’s seasonality and comparing prior year’s holiday sales is a great place to start. Being able to use past performance to inform and strategize your practices during the holidays is crucial. However, as many brands begin to diversify their shelf space, you may not have the opportunity to utilize past holiday performance. In this case, it is particularly important to be closely leaned in with your retailer partners by attending holiday webinars, reaching out to specific retail reps, and connecting with your Skai CS team.
Diving into Skai specifically, I’d recommend having a few things in order prior to the holiday, namely: 1) creating saved views or favorites to quickly navigate to during the holiday season, 2) utilizing dimensions and categories to identify products and campaigns of priority 3) explore Skai’s Forecasting tool that can be utilized to make predictions cross retailers 4) setting up automated actions or ad bid scheduling ahead of the holiday season.
As we dive into the holidays, being comfortable with all of the above best practices and having a relationship with your retailer reps will shape your comfort and confidence. If you do for any reason and need to act quickly, having the comfort and support team will enable your strategy.
Overall, taking into account these planning phases, adopting a proactive mindset, and developing strong partnerships with your retail team will help you achieve success during the holiday season.
If you really want to make the most of this year’s Q4, put your new retail media tech foundation in now
As part of Skai’s intelligent marketing platform, our Retail Media solution empowers brands to plan, execute, and measure digital campaigns that meet consumers when and where they shop. Built with best-in-class automation and optimization capabilities, our unified platform allows you to manage campaigns on 30+ retailers including Amazon, Walmart, Target, and Instacart all in one place.
Client results include:
- 461% increase in Amazon Ads ROAS and 57% increase in page traffic for Bondi Sands
- 92% increase in share of voice on Amazon for a Fortune 500 CPG brand
- 72% increase in revenue for VTech
- 1,390% year-over-year sales growth for Kamado Joe
To learn more about how Skai surfaces Amazon Marketing Cloud insights—or to see our full Retail Media solution in action—please schedule a quick demo today!