Chris Lehman: 2019 Retail and Holiday Shopping Season Outlook

Mayla Wang
November 26, 2019

Chris, 68% of shoppers say the compressed season will change the way they shop this year (eMarketer). What steps are your retail clients taking to change the way they advertise during this shortened shopping window?

Chris: There’s no question that the shorter shopping season between Thanksgiving and Christmas 2019 will challenge marketers who are not prepared.

With less time for research and purchase consideration, consumer investment will gravitate towards ecommerce sites that offer variety and convenience. For retailers, this means less organic traffic to their brand sites, tighter margins, and more competition.

Major retailers are responding by promoting Black Friday deals beginning in mid-November. They are offering deeper discounts earlier than they did in 2018, and are switching to ad copy that calls out these promotions. It’s working, as we are seeing consumers respond with high CTRs and CVRs.

Brands who act fast and decisively are seeing a lift in not only holiday gift buying, but also discretionary purchases which typically decline during a shortened holiday season.

Q: Last Holiday Season, search outside Google and Bing saw a 24% YOY growth in comparison to 2% for Google and 10% for Bing (eMarketer). What value do retailers see in search outside Google and Bing, and why now?

Chris: And yet Google’s revenue increases by 20% – outpacing volume by 10x! This is why retailers are focused on incremental lift in sales and want to better understand the various consumer paths to purchase. It’s all about being present in front of the consumer in as many instances as possible during the Holiday season to try and win the purchase.

Consumer search outside of the search engine giants is an important market, and savvy retailers are seeing opportunities to capitalize on this channel of intent, where valuable searches are happening daily. Retailers want to tap into this intent to defend their brand and bring consumers directly to their webpage, as opposed to losing them to an eCommerce engine. This allows brands to have more control over the consumers Path to Conversion and shorten the length of their consumers buying journey.

With our Conducive product we’re able to remove friction for consumers shopping online by helping them navigate directly to the brand’s website. This experience directly shapes where they make the purchase by providing them a trusted brand at the point of the search. A more seamless experience means a happy customer, and a happy customer is more likely to make a purchase.

Q: Consumer shopping behavior is changing. How has advertising evolved to fit the market?

Chris: Over the years, we’ve seen peak holiday shopping shift from Black Friday to Cyber Monday, and this year we are seeing shopping throughout the entire “Cyber Week.” I remember waiting in a long store line in the freezing cold for hours when the Xbox 360 was first released around Thanksgiving in 2005. Today we have “Couch Shopping,” where people can eat Thanksgiving dinner with their family and then purchase what they want directly from the comfort of their own home. Just last year, I sat across from my cousin at Thanksgiving dinner, and we discussed a newly-released video game. When dinner was over he pulled out his cell phone, opened an app, and bought the game. If you compare that to 2005, where I had to spend hours lining up in the middle of the night to buy the Xbox, it’s a stark contrast.

Just like my cousin who is skipping driving to the store, consumers would also rather skip a SERP results page. Shoppers just want to get what they want as fast as they can. This drives home the importance of being present in all channels where consumers search.

Q: What new search advertising tactics are you seeing from the retail category?

Chris: We recently introduced new media formats that drives brand awareness and shape consumer intent. We have also begun offering an exclusive media opportunity that offers brands 100% share-of-voice during peak promotional periods. These unique roadblock placements for a specified length of time, for example, Black Friday through Cyber Monday, offer our client unparalleled access to reach their consumers.

We are also learning that if a consumer has a negative experience, they will go out of their way to influence others not to shop at a particular retailer. They want to find their item of interest as soon as possible, and they don’t want a difficult-to-use, unappealing interface when they browse. adMarketplace provides unique reach and helps our retail clients by delivering happy consumers who have had a smooth and quick experience from the moment they opened their browser, meaning they’re more likely to convert.

Look, eMarketer forecasts the first ever $1 trillion holiday shopping season in 2019. Online sales are poised to grow in the range of 14% to 18% compared with 2018, according to Deloitte. Now more than ever, it’s imperative to be visible to the consumer online through search.

Click here to get in touch and start driving sales with adMarketplace’s Conducive product, that connects consumers to relevant brands at the moment of intent, skipping the pain of the search results page.

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