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How to ensure ad effectiveness and cost efficiency for Black Friday 2022 | #HolidayMonth

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Last year, consumers spent $8.9billion over the Black Friday weekend while brands advertising budgets surged 168% compared to the rest of November. As consumers and brands gear towards celebrating Black Friday, lesser advertising and product discount budgets due to the increased cost of living threaten to dampen the event. 

How can brands ensure a successful Black Friday in a turbulent economic climate? James Milne, MD of Northern Europe at leading recommendation platform Outbrain, shares his thoughts on how brands' ad budgets can go further for less this Black Friday.

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The pandemic rapidly accelerated e-commerce growth and use, with a digital ad spend alone increasing 12.2% in 2020. However, as we emerge from this period, the cost of living crisis affects consumers worldwide, spelling uncertainty for Black Friday 2022. In light of tighter budgets, brands must carefully deliberate how to implement digital advertising strategies that help them stand out above the growing crowd of competitors.

Our research suggests 83.6% of global consumers have experienced an increase in their cost of living. Due to this, brands will recognise that maintaining year-on-year Black Friday sales growth in 2022, in terms of volume and value, will prove an uphill struggle if they cannot help consumers make informed purchasing decisions.

Complete and thorough due diligence in terms of stock levels, management resources, and marketing activities must be more effective than ever before. Within this, brands will need to produce a cost-effective marketing strategy that garners the best Return On Ad Spend (ROAS) possible.

Contextual advertising key to CTR, engagement and purchase intent

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Click-Through-Rate (CTR) will be a key metric for Black Friday. CTRs form one of the most common metrics in digital advertising because measuring the proportion of viewers who click on an ad is fundamental to deciphering ad effectiveness, resonance with target audiences, and whether it is driving traffic to the given website. A healthy CTR is anywhere between 0.10% and 0.25% and can be boosted by ensuring adverts are contextually placed.

Matching the habitat of users' real-time web exploration; contextual advertisements work by providing additional, relevant content to existing website navigation. Instead of detracting from the web experience, contextual advertisements enrich the user experience - if the relative advert reaches the correct audience.

Contextual advertising is not just contextual in terms of visual matching. Leveraging sophisticated technology, contextual adverts can reach specific groups of pre-interested consumers. If done correctly, contextual advertising increases CTR rates when compared to display advertising and increases purchase intent and brand favorability by 14% and 5% respectively.

Much like the modern application of cookies, but without intrusive third-party tracked data, contextual advertising uses persona-based algorithms to reach interested and relevant web users. Ultimately, reaching audiences this way  increases autonomous interest, engagement and subsequent CTR. Ultimately, this positively impacts purchase intent, therefore, increasing CTR will prove a key weapon for the advertiser's arsenal this Black Friday.

Diversification for maximum reach and engagement

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Despite using contextual advertisements and accurate persona-based algorithms, not all relevant audiences and demographics will exist on one platform alone. Considering this dynamic, and Outbrain’s research that reveals consumers find new products almost equally across the open web and social channels, brands need to diversify their advertising mix.

For brands aiming to do so manually, designing, implementing and monitoring separate advert campaigns across various, differently formatted channels is a significant drain on resources - particularly around busy Black Friday periods. Those that understand the benefits of diversifying their advertising mix will seek a platform that allows for quick, easy and effective multi-channel advertising.

Relying on automated technology and AI, advertising platforms can now take one advert and instantly alter its formatting and interactivity for use on other channels. Time is in short supply over busy shopping periods, so brands must ensure that automation does the heavy lifting.

The benefits of a multi-channel approach also mean that different consumers can engage with adverts in different ways. The importance of advert interactivity is often overlooked as interactivity options are a powerful way of providing web-users choice in how they engage with advertisements.

Providing as many options as possible in the way users can interact with adverts improves perceived ad-relevance and decreases the annoyance or attentional blindness associated with banner or display ads, encouraging engagement in turn.

If brands can reach the largest relevant audience possible, and encourage engagement through varying interactivity, their adverts will have a higher impact and effectiveness this Black Friday.

Information-packed adverts key for frugal shoppers

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Frugality among shoppers has increased in light of the cost-of-living crisis. Research from Attest demonstrates that even high-income consumers have changed their shopping habits, with 43% saying they have been searching for more discounts and deals since May 2022. When understanding how to target the rising numbers of frugal shoppers, Outbrain research suggests that information-based adverts may prove key to purchasing intent.

Outbrain’s research also reveals that 65.6% of shoppers categorised as ‘frugal’ are now researching products before they buy them, regardless of 50.36% being loyal to specific brands. To encourage engagement from spend-wary consumers, brands need to provide easily digestible information as quickly as possible in the user journey.

Naturally, adverts exist primarily at the top of funnel discovery, so must inform consumer queries as comprehensively as possible - leading to higher engagement and, eventually, a higher chance of conversions.

Comprehensive marketing and psychology research has been conducted on the link between information in advertising and purchasing intent, indicating that easily digestible yet comprehensive information has a positive effect on purchase likelihood, because consumers feel more connected to the given product or service.

Implementing information-based adverts must be done without losing the aesthetics and positive user experience that promote attention and engagement in the first place. Different channels allow for varying volumes of advert imagery and information.

Therefore, adhering to a platform-based multi-channel approach means brands can take advantage of automatic creation and implementation, saving resources and creating impactful and contextual advertisements across the mix.

Brands looking for a successful Black Friday will have to understand the importance of informational adverts. They must acknowledge that these adverts must be created and implemented as efficiently as possible, to save resources and increase effectiveness.

Best practice equals best performance

Black Friday this year will be a tale of ups and downs, successes and losses. However, companies can put their best foot forward by ensuring their advertisements are primed for user discovery and engagement across their relevant channels. Following the steps above, brands can inform consumer choices, creating a valuable Black Friday sales period for both brands and consumers.

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